Insight: the power & politics of visual culture in the age of mass media, Emmanuel Van der Auwera at Edel Assanti, Meritxell Rosell, δημοσίευση στο CLOT Magazine [5/3/2023]Marilena Pateraki
One of the first impressions of experiencing Emmanuel Van der Auwera‘s installations is being in front of a mirage, but rather than a naturally occurring one, in this case, technology-induced. Van der Auwera’s works trick the viewers with a deconstruction of new media, aided by a smart, playful interplay between politics, agency and perception. During Frieze London 2022 in London, Van der Auwera presented Fire and Forget, a solo exhibition at Edel Assanti Gallery. The first time he showcased this selection of recent works together.
Fire and forget is a term commonly used in military jargon, referring to the act of firing a weapon with little concern for its aftermath. This phrase provided the title and guiding theme for the exhibition, which included light-responsive photographic plates, an immersive video installation and a film. The exhibition explored the dehumanisation of the human gaze and what it means to be an autonomous citizen in a digital era defined by internet conspiracy, surveillance technology and AI identity-altering algorithms
Van der Auwera’s recent works have been drawn to the US and its proliferation of conspiracy theories. His exploration delves into the complexities of a Debourdian society of the spectacle, where voyeuristic acts are prevalent and move from one target to the next at breakneck speed. In a world where we readily embrace new technologies without fully grasping their implications, “fire and forget” has become the norm. Through his art, the artist urges us to reflect on our position as spectators in this spectacle, and whether we are truly acknowledging our agency or just deceiving ourselves.
The centre of the exhibition is VideoSculpture XX (The World’s 6th Sense) (2019), an intriguing video installation that is composed of six wall-mounted LCD screens, each one treated to prise the screens apart from their polarising layers. Once removed, we read, the screens become imperceptible, and the naked eye only sees a bright white light. As if conjured by a tech high priest, the screen content is only revealed through the eight rectangular polarising filters, which are strategically distributed in the installation room on tripods. The effect is haunting and confusing, and the viewer’s sight takes a while to adapt to the trick.
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