Turn off all your lights and don’t check your phone. Make this video full screen and lean back a little in your chair.
Intriguing, huh? That was only a snippet of a 13-minute long installation by Artist Ed Atkins. Atkins uses suspended animation to create art, something I think is pretty amazing. I have found lately that I LOVE modern art. More than that I love art that challenges me and society. I love art that appeals to a sense more than just my sight. I love art that I have to decode, but it’s not just looking at a canvas and “decoding” a smile. I love art that combines politics and the world at hand and issues that we face.
I just love art that challenges me.
This is one of those pieces. Let me first tell you about my feelings with this one, though.
So at the museum it’s set up in there’s just a room with a bench and the screen that this is playing on. The room is so dark and the walls, floor and bench so dark, however, that the room basically disappears with the lights off. You’re watching this “film” in this weird feeling of suspension in the room that you’re in. The film is a little off-putting, too. It’s almost like some weird creepy horror movie that makes you just a little bit uncomfortable.
So being in this room that didn’t feel like a room it was like I was suspended in blank space, pretty unnerved at the feeling and the film but also this weird feeling of being completely safe. It was like, “Well, I know I haven’t been transported to some alternate reality so I’m safe just sitting here. Or am I?”
Read some expert opinions here.
So, this whole sense is supposed to be kind of like a suspended reality, underwater presence. (Think a wrinkle in time). It’s a dream-like sequence that I feel is akin to the way Alice feels in Alice in Wonderland.
“There are no warm mouths here, nor tactile surfaces. As the avatar raises his index finger towards us, he touches the screen from the inside— the digital divide itself—as if pressing a button on the interface, with a reassuring click and a simulated surface bubble. Only a tiny sliver of reality is needed from which to create all this. The creative possibilities seem inexhaustible, and the gulf between this heroic expansive horizon and the very real limits of our fragile bodies, condemned to mortality, and connected only by a keyboard, seems increasingly unbridgeable. But nevertheless, technology cannot make life.”
It makes you question your own humanity and existence. The theories that some philosophers have about us all being suspended in our own reality and everyone else being a simple projection seems plausible in this environment. It also inspired me to get out of the screen, to have real relationships and real people and soak up the time I have.
In short, this piece was amazing and will stick with me. If you’re ever in Washington, D.C. I suggest you stop by.