Networked digital information technology is the dominant mode through which we experience the everyday. We depend upon the smartphone to navigate nearly every aspect of our existence. We are told that innovations— from augmented-reality and virtual assistants to delivery drones and self-driving cars— will make life easier, more convenient and more productive. Everywhere we turn, a startling new device promises to transfigure our lives.
Driven by the hyper-competitive economic interests of Silicon Valley, the networked objects, services and spaces that surround us have successfully colonized everyday life. Sophisticated algorithms embedded within nearly every new technology condition the range of choice and knowledge that is available to us. This production of knowledge and choice is deployed in a privatized corporate space, which is disconnected from the needs of society, and responds only to economic requirements of profit maximization.
Meanwhile, social behavior is trapped in inescapable patterns of interaction coded by techno-linguistic machines, screens of every size, sensory and emotional stimulation devices that submit our bodies to the stress of competition and acceleration. The exhibition of the ’self’ through the Internet results in a flattened image; identity is consolidated and curated though commercially owned platforms. Within the new dimension of networked production, the individual body is simultaneously exposed to a constant intensification of neural stimulation, and isolated from the physical presence of others. The over stimulated body is at once alone and hyper-connected: the more it is connected, the more it is alone.
In short, we live in an ever-thickening web of technologies whose workings are increasingly opaque to us. While we eagerly consume and adopt these new technologies, they are operating quietly in the background, provoking deep mutations in the psychosphere by reprogramming the fundamental terms of our existence, including our very bodies and what it means to be human.
So, what does it mean to be human in a world increasingly permeated by technology? This question is at the center of my artistic practice. My work explores themes of the real and virtual, the organic and artificial, moving from the world into the screen and back again. As screens rapidly become the primary places of social interaction and our encounters with new information, effectively blurring the boundary between three-dimensional space and the two-dimensional image, I examine the ways that photographic, televisual, and digital media (and the structures of power that operate them) change our perceptions of the human body and everyday life. Manifesting in paintings, installations, and performances I make work that dissects contemporary life and attempts to synthesize a host of cultural norms and anxieties in order to shine a light on how they affect relationships and human nature itself.
By engaging with this discourse we might better understand the scale and nature of these issues and the uncertain times we now confront —and hopefully offer new ways to reclaim our stake in the future. While the future of our screen populated lives often appears unsettling it also offers the potentiality of new forms of representation for marginalized peoples and ideas. It creates a space to rethink the representation of sociopolitical identities and to question the structures that govern our understanding of race, gender, and sexuality. Technology at its best offers an opportunity to consider the malleable, fragmented, and impossible body— it allows for the fluidity of ideas and information. So that we might live a better future, one that embodies the queer and humanist ideals afforded to us by the promises of our networked screens. It is important that we direct our attention towards the place of this technology in our lives. We must chart its embrace and manipulation across various phenomena, to examine how it has increasingly shifted the way we picture ourselves and understand our place in the world.