From early animistic to modern-day societies, mysticism and technology have been intimately interconnected, yet our ideas of the sacred have shifted alongside our tools. The Western sacred no longer lives in the rocks, trees, and rivers, but has moved to more amorphous terrains. Has the evacuation of these supernatural agencies from the natural world opened it up to technological exploitation and destruction? Or are we bearing witness to the rise of new forces, what sociologist Bronislaw Szerszynski calls techno-demons? As technology assumes an ever-increasing presence in our lives, how can we form new relationships with our digital kin?
This exhibition of recent video works by Nicolas Lapointe and Anna Eyler focuses on ideas of frontier and utopia in the digital age, examining the intimate relationship between idealism and technology. Certain works position the artificial within a continuum of natural processes. Reflecting on the immense ecological pressures of technology (and contemporary life), La Fable d’OxA 21965 (2019) conflates the technologies of past, present, and future, considering material culture within the context of geological (or deep) time. This video imagines digital future fossils and places them on equal footing with the architectural wonders of civilizations' past. Within the procedurally-generated environment of M.A.N.N. A (2020), power generators of the industrial age merge with the surrounding flora and fauna, hyperbolizing the unseen powers animating industrial life. Similarly, the digital video work PAN/PAN (2018) presents a series of biomorphic techno-relics within a digital landscape. At the same time, How to Explain Love to a Tape Measure (2016) confers agency to the landscape, questioning hierarchies of animate/inanimate. By conflating mechanical/virtual and natural bodies, each of these works emphasizes the animated nature of our technologies, asking us to consider the limits of empathy for non-human agents.
Shorter interludes peppered throughout the reel draw attention to technology’s inability to answer humanity’s most fundamental questions. Cité (2019) explores how technology functions as a mechanism to address our own mortality. Across three videos, a variety of 8-bit insects flock to saturated images of raw meat, functioning as a kind of digital memento mori. Meanwhile, the ominous prognostications of dottd.net/ (2020) playfully reflect on our technological future. In the non-space of Vanguard I (The Five-Body-Problem) (2019), a fleet of satellite-virus hybrids twitch and glitch across a virtual terrain, reflecting on the techno-utopianism of the 1950s as a way of examining our own contemporary relationship to technology. of the mountain and the ravine speaks to humanity’s enduring quest for a higher power, questioning the ways that technology has been---and continues to be---implicated in this pursuit.