If a tree falls in the metaverse, and nobody is logged on, does it make a sound?
The upcoming Polygon exhibit, “Ghosts of the Machine,” looks at the line where our real selves end and our digital selves begin. A group collection curated by Elliot Ramsey, the show opens on June 3 and features international artists exploring the escapism that the digital world provides us.
The seven featured artists use immersive multimedia to present their thoughts via video, avatars, installation, or even a meticulously tended garden growing in the middle of the gallery. That piece is a newly commissioned work by T’uy’t’tanat Cease Wyss (Skwxwú7mesh), created for this show. Throughout the exhibit’s run, Wyss will be taking care of the garden, which will feature an augmented reality experience. It’s an admittedly stark contrast having the organic bathing in artificial light- showcasing the theme of duality of the real embedded in the simulated that runs throughout the show.
The title “Ghost of the Machine,” as Ramsey puts it, “..refers to the mind-body duality: the idea of the ‘mind’ as software inhabiting the ‘body’ as hardware.” As our minds become closer to being one with technology, there’s an eerie undercurrent to the show- that our bodies, as we know them, could one day be rendered obsolete. Within the explorations of each artist, there’s also an element of mystery of how our psyches will evolve in interpreting these dual lives.
“We can’t constrain reality into ‘real’ and ‘virtual;'” Ramsey says. “we end up sliding across these boundaries like ghosts through walls.”
If we are coming closer to a form of social purgatory where being both online and offline is to constantly yearn for the other, it’s hard to say that these advancements are more than just pushing things forward simply because we can.
But I’ll leave any further artistic speculation to the artists. Along with Wyss’s new work, the show also features pieces from Ho Tzu Nyen, Juliana Huxtable, Anne Duk Hee Jordan, Lu Yang, Skawennati, and Santiago Tamayo Soler. If you were fortunate enough to attend Interior Infinite at Polygon last summer, you’ll be acquainted with Ramsey’s gift for assembling eclectic voices into a cohesive vision. “Ghosts of the Machine” is shaping up to be a fantastic and challenging follow-up to that show. Be sure you visit in person, or at the very least, peruse the works on the site in whatever form your online persona takes.
Ghosts of the Machine runs from June 3 to August 14, 2022
*All photos courtesy of The Polygon
Take the Seabus to Lonsdale Quay, and the gallery is right on the water!