Speculative Cultures at Shelia Johnson Design Center | Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery
Speculative Cultures at Shelia Johnson Design Center | Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery
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“Neo Kingdom” Jamie Martinez and Erin Ko, Virtual Reality simulation, 1:56. 

The Neo Kingdom is an exploration of mortality through Virtual Reality. Inspired by the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Ko and Martinez train their audience to navigate the afterlife. In this simulation, the viewer travels through the dark underworld with the hieroglyphic spells given to Ani that lead to the God, Anubis. 

In Egyptian ancient times, only royalty received a codex which prepared them to navigate through the underworld leading to the afterlife. The codexes were personalized hieroglyphic spells written by the highest priests for the Pharaohs of Egypt. Now everyone can see and experience the journey through the underworld. 

Speculative Cultures at Shelia Johnson Design Center | Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery

Artists: Morehshin Allahyari (IRN/US), Scott Benesiinaabandan (CA), Matias Brunacci (ARG/DE), Yu Hong (CHN), Francois Knoetze (ZA), Erin Ko (US) and Jamie Martinez (COL/US)

Curators: Tina Sauerlaender (DE), Peggy Schoenegge (DE), and Erandy Vergara (MX/CA) At: Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, Parsons/The New School, New York Opening reception: Thursday, February 7, 6-8 pm Duration: February 7, 2019 until April 14, 2019

Cultures have never existed in a set state. They are all in constant flux brought about by social, economic, and technological developments. The global flow of people forges change, adaptation of norms and the creation of new forms for human societies, religions, rituals, or spoken languages. These processes of change lead to the adoption of new tools or practices and therefore can be considered as engine for progress, growth, and innovation. The new tools of the digital age offer new possibilities for cultures to exist, evolve, and consolidate. Virtual Reality allows artists to speculate about new manifestations of cultural expressions within the conditions of the digital realm. Independent of physical surroundings, new spaces spring into existence.

The artists in this exhibition engage with their personal experiences, memories, and cultural heritage in order to reflect on today’s social coexistence. Morehshin Allahyari reflects on post-colonialism by exploring meanings of myths of Middle-Eastern origin. Scott Benesiinaabandan (CA) creates a futuristic setting based on a story of the indigenous Anishinabe peoples. Matias Brunacci develops an interactive, technology-based shamanistic journey. Yu Hong refers back to Chinese history and her families’ life stories. Francois Knoetze combines present and future, as well as representations and fictional visions of South Africa. Erin Ko and Jamie Martinez create a journey to the afterlife inspired by the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

Through their works, the artists shape their hopes and desires into virtual environments representing imagined cultures. Their speculative virtual worlds create different perspectives on established narratives and traditions, as well as images and symbols. The artists’ projects thereby open possibilities for leaving accustomed views and familiar structures behind and exploring different notions of one’s own personal surroundings and conditions of human existence. This show is part of the exhibition series Critical Approaches in Virtual Reality Art, which was developed by Erandy Vergara and Tina Sauerlaender at the invitation of the Goethe-Institut and Studio XX in Montréal. This series brings together Erandy Vergara’s engagement with postcolonial and feminist perspectives on media art and theory and Tina Sauerlaender’s curatorial engagement with digital technologies and Virtual Reality. Presented in partnership with the Consulate General of Canada in New York. Technical expertise and support kindly provided by the XReality Center at The New School.s of human existence.

This show is part of the exhibition series Critical Approaches in Virtual Reality Art, which was developed by Erandy Vergara and Tina Sauerlaender at the invitation of the Goethe-Institut and Studio XX in Montréal. This series brings together Erandy Vergara’s engagement with postcolonial and feminist perspectives on media art and theory and Tina Sauerlaender’s curatorial engagement with digital technologies and Virtual Reality.

Presented in partnership with the Consulate General of Canada in New York.

Technical expertise and support kindly provided by the XReality Center at The New School.

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