This is an in-person event
The Nasher Sculpture Center presents its first exhibition of New Media art with Melanie Clemmons’s Likes Charge, Light Tear, a hybrid in-person/virtual installation for Nasher Public. Noting that “[we] routinely discover that our experiences with the internet and digitality mask horrifying structures that exploit and divide us” even as we increasingly rely on digital connections and online platforms in our daily lives, Clemmons seeks to use this very technology toward more positive and constructive ends by making it a conduit for healing and care.
Likes Charge, Light Tear comprises four works, each of which reimagines digital technology via metaphysical or spiritual concepts and imagery:
- In Magic Circle, four flatscreens on the gallery walls facing Flora Street present videos dedicated to the four cardinal elements—earth, air, fire, and water. Created in CSS, a common markup language used in creating webpages, these videos conjure the four elements as they appear in magical or spiritual traditions to focus energy. In a melding of esoteric tradition and current technology, game studies also make reference to the magic circle as a place where players enjoy protection or learn new skills. In Likes Charge, Light Tear, Magic Circle becomes a site for the potential amplification of spiritual healing.
- In the center of the gallery, Reflect presents an interactive video sculpture in the form of a reflection pool, offering a quiet space for thought and meditation. Glass bricks encircle the screens, creating an area that can be slowly circled and contemplated. The invitation to reflect affords a respite from the constant demands of the attention economy and surveillance capitalism, in which companies track us online in order to sell products related to our searches, the websites we visit, and comments we post. The deceleration encouraged by Reflect proposes a break from, and an alternative to, the pressures of conventional online existence.
- The Eye, near the entrance to the space, is modeled as an altar featuring a rotating computer and webcam that provides livestreaming 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This gives access to the exhibition space for virtual visitors, allowing those who cannot be physically present to experience the installation nonetheless. The live video feed can be accessed on the artist’s Twitch stream.
- At the end of the gallery near the Harwood Street windows, Recharge is a rotating disc populated with smart phones and 3D-printed healing crystals. The phones reference a phenomenon known as “click farms,” in which banks of phones are used illicitly to provide, at a price, false likes and followers for social media accounts and websites. Clemmons derails this practice: her phones instead display looping videos and metaphysically “charge” the crystals to promote the healing of digital ills, allowing visitors themselves to recharge and perhaps safeguard against the manipulations and stress of technology’s ever-present incursions into our lives.