Beyond reality

Gijón exhibition reflects on the effect of technology on human relations

Hand-held, a 2012 work by David Rokeby.
Hand-held, a 2012 work by David Rokeby.

The notion of one, all-encompassing reality is long gone. Today realities can be virtual and socialist; parallel, fiscal and heightened. And there is even reality TV.

Together they might be described as an "elastic reality," a concept that Benjamin Weil, director of the LABoral art center in Gijón, has come up with for the title of a new exhibition that brings together 10 pieces by young artists exploring "new interfaces for contemporary art in Europe."

It's an idea that emerges from all the layers of experience, levels of interaction and flows of information that have made up our lives since the internet burst onto the scene. It is supported by the works Weil has chosen from 48 projects developed in 2012 by grant holders at France's prestigious Le Fresnoy Studio National del Arts Contemporains school.

"It was a different process from the one a curator usually carries out," he explains. "More than choosing work to back up a theory, I had to find a conceptual framework to encompass the existing pieces."

He is standing in front of the work that opens the show: a piece of black carpet. In the semi-darkness of the room, David Rokeby's installation looks like a square hole, a typical trompe l'oeil . But when you stand over it, you discover a trick: a projection of a sea of interlinked hands encourages you to reflect on your own skin, a metaphor that evokes the levels of bodily contact in the post-human era.

The same eye-opening play is found in other works. The piece by Pierre-Yves Boisramé features a model of a cable car that moves without leaving its place thanks to a cinema-style set. In Véronique Beland's work, the signals collected by an interstellar telescope in Onsala, Sweden, are translated into incoherent sentences that rattle out from an old printer, while Zahra Poonawala builds an orchestra from loudspeakers that reacts when you step near it.

It is a collection of works that would inspire many discussions, though few would be as effective as Weil's original idea that encompasses them.

Realidad elástica. Más allá de la exposición: nuevas interfaces para el arte contemporáneo en Europa . Until September 8 at LABoral Centro de Arte, Los Prados 121, Gijón, Asturias.

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS