Virtual reality works by artists Eva Papamargariti, Sebastian Schmieg, and others come alive at REVERSE's ‘Uncanny’ exhibition, which opens September 12.
The world is full of binaries. The real and unreal. Presence and absence. Life and death. In REVERSE art gallery’s Uncanny, a new show curated by Helena Acosta, the binary of the real and virtual—the screen versus the screenless—is explored by artists Alfredo Salazar-Caro, Giselle Zatonyl, Leo Castañeda, Eva Papamargariti and Sebastian Schmieg.
Uncanny is also about highlighting work that builds “worlds of futuristic fiction” distinct from science and speculative fiction. Like Giselle Zatonyl’s offering, Alien Ship, which invites the viewer into a futuristic 3D fantasy, the show’s various virtual pieces explore the idea of futuristic fictional worlds is more about immersive and sense-stimulating world and space-building than concrete science fictional narratives.
Eva Papamargariti’s RandomAccessData is a tag cloud made up of data on “random thoughts about post-internet art, radical utopian groups of the ’60s, and today’s virtual reality tools." Visitors hear a narrator discourse on a variety of topics, from real and digital identities to the flow of data, reproduction and distribution of images, immersive experiences and the Internet.
Things get more humorous and psychedelic with Triptych AKA Miami Booty Bass Remixxx, a piece by Alfredo Salazar-Caro. The work finds the artist using 21st century digital tools—3D modeling software and motion capture—to give the Master of Frankfurt’s 1510–1520 masterpiece, Sagrada Familia con ángel músico, Santa Catalina de Alejandría, Santa Bárbara, a trippy virtual reality remix that explores iconography like churches and drones.
When visitors enter REVERSE, they’ll also encounter a large futuristic sculpture known as Item 93201. Created by Leo Castañeda, the installation functions as a sort of monolithic portal between the real and the virtual.
“Through a VR headset embedded in the sculpture the viewer can enter an augmented reality environment, a setting conflicted between luxury and oddity,” REVERSE explains. “As the viewer navigates this space he encounters elements of the physical in the virtual, objects like the sculpture itself and a painting that also hangs in the gallery. Now the virtual and the actual unfold in an intertwined dialogue, which space is actually mirroring the other?”
Uncanny is rounded out by new media art stalwart Sebastian Schmieg’s 81 Points of View (Autoplay). A “media-archaeological sculpture,” the piece features interplay between modern digital devices that allow for augmented reality and centuries old optical machines that create visual illusions.
“Where as [sic] media technology becomes smaller and eventually invisible, the piece turns that development up-side-down: due to its transparent setup, the sculpture‘s mode of operation turns out to be the actual subject matter,” REVERSE explains on its website. “Schmieg combined modern devices that create augmented realities with antiquated ones that create more basic optical illusions, drawing a line through centuries of experimentation with mediated reality.”
On Saturday, September 26th and Sunday September 27th, Alfredo Salazar-Caro will be teaching a workshop called Intro to VR and Video Games at REVERSE.