Written in 1931 by Aldous Huxley, Brave New World depicts a bleak future where technological advancements have had a negative impact on humanity. In 2017, many of the things Huxley once predicted have unwittingly become true. While inventions such as Soma and Feelies – designed to act as tools of social control – have not (yet) become a reality, emotional engineering does occur, but in a far more contagious and intimate sphere, in an age overloaded with information and sharing. Within the world of the “internet of things,” has the unprecedented volume of data, entertainment, news, goods and services helped shape a more intelligible and humane world?
While most of us are busy tweeting, gaming and snapping in a sea of social media, many artists are reflecting on our drastically shifting world, by drawing insights from the aesthetics, practices, and politics of technology. In its fourth year, Both Sides Now examines new models of making moving image influenced by internet and video game culture. Showing work made in the past four years, the programme explores new aesthetics, visual languages and digital forms that are native to the internet, and that comment upon local and global politics, society, globalisation and science.
This will include the fantastic worlds created via gaming and game engines used for design, appropriated to create speculative worlds, such as in Lawrence Lek and Joey Holder’s work, revealing ways in which the virtual affects our experiences of reality. In contrast, boredom research’s AfterGlow, draws on science fact to produce startling imagery, visualising infection density of a blood-borne malaria parasite in Malaysia. At a time when biology is increasingly fused with technology, Angela Su’s work explores the new realm of digital consciousness. Yiu Yuk Yiu’s Another Day Of Depression In Kowloon simulates Hong Kong’s cityscape in a video game world. Jeff Lee and Joseph Chen investigate how screen-based media has transformed our culture. Tactically responding to Hong Kong’s politics, Ming Wong’s Windows On The World creates a Chinese sci-fi that is eminently in between utopia and dystopia.
Increasingly our perceptions are shifted through exposure to virtual influences; artists are key to examining and creating work that explores this shift, and to the opportunities to engage critically and poetically with our changing world.