MNEMONIC CITY , INTERFACES at the Barbican Preview night: 21st of August from 6pm until closing time The Foyers
The opening of the show will unravel an unusual if not surprising collection of works for their incredibly disparate forms and origins. Indeed Fish Island Labs a creative High-Tec experiment based on data research, programming cutting edge apps, digital media and hologram environments, robotics 3d printing and statistics, virtual reality in all its intriguing guises revealing the tastiest cyborg devices emerging in the metropolis, has teamed up with the Magma Collective and Open Visor.
The Barbican is promoting this collaboration, inviting Magma, a group of dedicated mostly multi disciplinary artists, to invoke a new Mnemonic City, now into it’s fifth residency, out of the time machine.
A new Mnemonic event is finally here. It will galvanise the City of London with a march culminating in an exhibition and a series of performances. The artists are inviting everyone to partake in the three consecutive days of creative sensorial and philosophical festivities on the 22d and 23d of August 2015 with the opening night on the Friday 21st. Hackney Wick will be rolling into the square Mile with a cortege leading to the Barbican. But it is not the whole story as a famous writer put it. The opening of the show will unravel an unusual if not surprising collection of works for their incredibly disparate forms and origins. Indeed Fish Island Labs a creative High-Tec experiment based on data research, programming cutting edge apps, digital media and hologram environments, robotics 3d printing and statistics, virtual reality in all its intriguing guises revealing the tastiest cyborg devices emerging in the metropolis, has teamed up with the Magma Collective and Open Visor. The Barbican is promoting this collaboration, inviting Magma, a group of dedicated mostly multi disciplinary artists, to invoke a new Mnemonic City, now into it’s fifth residency, out of the time machine.
Mnemonic city has travelled from the idea of Plato’s cave, into the street market of Dalston, through Madrid to the outer edge of the city, the abandoned interscape of Edmonton into the cradle of a European symbol of ancient beauty, back to the heart of the global economy in the fortress of cultural entertainment, the Barbican before heading for the Atlantic shores, the magnificent Portuguese capital of Lisbon. After a year of deep core immersion into the layers of our old mega town, the inventions are ready to speak. What we find is a point of connection between ideas of past present and future, in the form of analogue and information technology, both indispensable to the modelling of a modern civilisation where theorists and practitioners alike begin to understand the crucial role of equilibrium between science and art and as importantly the cultivation of openness towards the inclusion of an audience in this process.
The Barbican hosting this meeting of polarities will open its doors to a ‘point of singularity’ that already proves to be an illuminating experience thanks to focus workshops and brain storming sessions. We hope to share this amazing improbability with as many people as this renowned Brutalist venue can contain.
Perhaps we can, through such an amicable meeting of antipodes, redress the balance and suggest there is no real conflict between computer nerds and oil paint geeks. We are bringing to attention the nature of technology and how it can, against all apparent odds, be put at the service of poetry since etymology sheds light on an undeniable affiliation. In short, Technē, the savvy way of doing it like it says on the tin, is a close cousin of Poiesis, the art of making, of transforming a basic form into a refined object. Both lead to the realisation of an idea. Now although the apparatus and the methodology have become an end in themselves, this will not deter the human will from searching for the missing link. On the side of analogue, those we call artists continue to dig content out of matter, and find meaning where others see empty space.
Interfaces, especially from the Mnemonic City perspective, is also demonstrating art has indeed played the part of a bridge moving with the times from civilisation to civilisation, enabling each human being to reconnect with their their deeper nature.
Processing reality through art and technology
21 – 23 August 2015
From interactive portraits to virtual reality technology, atmospheric realities to enlightening data visualisations – explore the world that emerges when art and technology collide.
Interfaces is the first annual showcase of art from Fish Island Labs, an incubator set up in collaboration with The Trampery to kickstart the careers of a new generation of emerging talent whose work spans technology and the arts.
Over the past 12 months, this community of 20 practitioners have developed cutting-edge new work, covering everything from sculpture, installations and physical performance to coding, film editing and digital art – and now they’re taking over the Barbican Foyers.
Together, these artists take a diverse approach to interrogating how human experience can be transformed by multi-media art practice.
Extinct Formations in Indistinct Environments
What is a face but a wall? It is said the eyes are the windows to the soul.
The façade echoes the face. They are both a surface reflecting or absorbing the context they inhabit, an ambiguous invitation to look in, to enter or to gaze, while we long, irremediably confronted to silence. Both expanses offer a field enouncing a territory and announcing a confrontation, yet presenting us with the secrecy of the persona absorbed in itself. The portrait eludes, as the façade to the stage; one curtain rises while the backdrop remains intact. Actors live on through the history of stones, their narrative entangled with the syntax of a monument.
These buildings are not yet open, windows have not been cut out of the concrete surface; they are not populated. They appear dead, yet in their infancy, dormant. In this too they reflect the art of portraiture, the object from which the viewer will retract a sense of presence, an imprint of a character, a memory yet to be, that cannot be inhabited, the eyes harboring no life in the biological sense. It is nevertheless a battleground where fiction and actuality cancel each other out.
Loeben, known as Isidorus once wrote: “to be blinded by enigma is thus to see”. Dante could have agreed, as he searched in vain for a lost Eurydice, beyond the city walls yet, inside the very fabric of a place he had once discovered through the gaze of an unobtainable treasure. We tread around the building that perhaps will open its gates although this may be only once, for it belies a reality we cannot comprehend, the labyrinth hidden in the shadow, what lies yet unknown behind the door. The structural formations humanity invented to separate itself from the possibility of premature death and certain pain is also our entombment. They appear like sacred sanctuaries, rising against gravity, to defy our fear of extinction. Yet, as we enter, we descend into sleep, it is no longer life we seek but virtual continuity.
Thus, we become extinct in the perpetual immobility of architectural forms as we relinquish our psyche to the impenetrable walls we erect to find shelter from emptiness, in itself another concept as formidable as the highest skyscrapers rising above our cities. In their face, effaced, we turn a feeling into a sensation, denying ourselves the plurality and the profundity of our soul. Those facades are like gigantic masks staring avidly at our vanishing trace. They cease as much as they seize the moment before us, embalming, like a photograph as Roland Barthes described it in Camera Lucida, the nostalgia for an existence that can only ever be almost in reach.
Copyright © Pascal Ancel Bartholdi 2014
Mnemonic City is exploring the idea of city as a receptacle, taking inspiration from Plato’s Myth of the Cave. The allegory explores the relation of humankind with their environment, questioning what is real and what appearance is. The theme explores notion of identity, fragmentation and the idea of shadow.
The nature of this series of performances is intricately linked to this conjunction of natures by which disparate physical and emotional organized elements construct an image, a common space which becomes an internal metropolis of sensations, a ‘Mnemopolis’, city of remembrance, where ‘anasubstantial’ interconnections take form and language turns back into a primordial sign. This points to the potential/virtual body of what Deleuze and Guattari call “Phase Space”, in this instance, the result of an organic communion of ideas and their ramified manifestations among the performers whose devices interact electrically and electronically during the show. From the concept of the city, Magma moves to the concept of the cave and in doing so triggers a descent into the cave of our latent mind.
The cave Magma explores opens to show the dark motions of the mind traversing territories of ancestral memory having embarked on the ghost ship of mythology. The character of the environment thus reflects the development of the rapport established between the phenomenological process taking place ‘on stage’ and the perceptual response of the members of the public ‘off-stage’ in which these very ‘on/off’ dividing rules become interchangeable and indistinguishable.
Magma’s own artistic evolution defies Plato’s argument, since the work at hand affords the audience a form of knowledge through sensation rather than through the exposition of form as an idea to be unraveled by the intellect. The electrified chamber the performers engineer shows us how the cave can transmute into a lake, the retina of an interior gaze remembering a history in the making.