Furtherfield presents DIGITAL ZOO: Life from the world wild web, a touring exhibition that invites audiences to explore and marvel at new patterns of human and digital behaviours in the network age.
Featuring Andy Deck, Mary Flanagan, Genetic Moo, Liz Sterry, Thomson & Craighead, Pete Gomes, and a new interactive mobile artwork commission by Transnational Temps.
DIGITAL ZOO features experimental software, interactive videos, installations, workshops, networked and mobile media created by internationally recognised artists inspired to explore the ways in which our lives are being shaped by digital technologies, and challenge the concept that digital art is only accessible in galleries or online.
Since 2008 artist group Genetic Moo have been developing a series of interactive video installations using choreographed video clips that respond in a variety of life-like ways to user motion and touch. With Animacules they take inspiration from the 19th century sea life illustrations of Ernst Haeckel and the work of the 17th century Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek to create a dark sea of wiggling, luminescent creatures that gorge on torch light.
Internationally renowned artist duo Thomson & Craighead create a new site-specific installation especially for the DIGITAL ZOO tour. A wall of propaganda style posters of the Tweets and other status updates drawn from people in the local area of the tour venues, offers a poetic snapshot of the invisible conversations taking place, “the idle mutterings of ourselves to ourselves as a form of concrete poetry.” The work is based on the artists’ London Wall series shown at the Museum of London (2010), Furtherfield Gallery (2012) and Carroll/Fletcher (2013).
Liz Sterry is an artist fascinated with the way people use the Internet to express themselves. In Kay’s Blog she presents an exact physical replica of a young woman’s bedroom, recreated through information, images and notes about her daily life that the real Kay posted on her public blog. With social media often used as a platform for self-expression and performance, the work questions how much of ourselves we share online with strangers without even realising it.
With his novel use of Twitter, US artist Andy Deck savours the wildness of everyday language with people around the world, inspired by the wealth of nature-related sayings passed down over centuries. He invites audiences to help him build a bestiary of animal idioms using social media and an interactive installation.
Experimental filmmaker Pete Gomes invited residents in Sunderland with no acting experience to participate in a 45 minute long acting session. Each participant was directed to perform on camera for a single five-minute take. Screened as a series, Cycle of Purposes questions reality and artifice by exploring how thoughts and feelings are acted, amplified, exaggerated and stylised every day in response to different people and places.
Mary Flanagan travels overland and undersea, in virtual worlds built and inhabited by other virtual beings. [borders] is a video documentation of her walks in beautiful and hypnotic landscapes that expose the boundaries of the virtual world by testing its edges. Her walks are inspired by Thoreau, the great American nature writer and walker, who, avoiding highways, chose instead to wander in order to understand the spiritual possibilities of the landscape.
Mall of the Wild by Transnational Temps is a new commission created especially for Digital Zoo. Players help the famous artist Magritte to find fake wildlife in the shopping centre. Equipped with a store map and a smart phone app, they have limited time to find a number of representations of wild animals visible in the products of the shopping centre. They map rare species and share their wildlife documentary photos in the online “Ceci n’est pas…” collection via social networks.
In creating DIGITAL ZOO, Furtherfield believe that digital networks and social media offer the potential for a more open relationship between artists and audiences, changing the life of an artwork in the world, and the ways in which people encounter it, and sometimes collaborate in its creation.
Personal information is exchanged with increasing frequency, and daily lives are becoming ever more public, as if in a public zoo. People are both animals and visitors; hunters, trackers, observers, naturalists and zookeepers; and educators and pundits. The longer-term social effects of this collective public performance are awaited…
The exhibition was accompanied by a series of creative workshops inspired by Crow_Sourcing for children aged 6-11 years old.
Digital Zoo is supported by Arts Council England through the Strategic Touring programme.
Crow_Sourcing by Andy Deck was made possible with funding from the Jerome Foundation, and was a 2012 Commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc. for its Turbulence website.