I FEEL WE THINK BAD – ED FORNIELES, MATT GOERZEN, HANNAH PERRY
Text by Dorothy Howard
Ed Fornieles, Matt Goerzen, and Hannah Perry’s haptic, multimedia installation environments in “i think we feel bad”, demonstrate the notion that art depicting networked life readily explores how representational art can be abstract, and how abstract art can be representational. Data is both representational–being a list of highly specific statements–and abstract in the sense that it is non-generalizing in its seriality. The process of interpreting data is a process of cartoonizing it in that it becomes more relatable on a human scale. We consolidate the complexity, and then add layers of anthropomorphized affects.
Artists are practitioners of speculative psychologies, cathartic therapies, and potentially involved in exorcisms of themselves and of their spectators and witnesses. These acts of worldmaking contain pedagogical impulses, even when it’s the ‘untapped potential’, or lack of political realism that the artist is gesturing towards. Sometimes this involves explorations of online persona–pointing towards a character lexicon of online romantic demons, stalkers, and sockpuppets, still while recognizing that the ‘troll’ is in the eye of the beholder. More generally these works explore how the creation of an extraterrestrial (personal or political) involves the creation of counterpublics based on highly specific types of discourse and media.
The installation at hand calls to mind the question of where to locate technologies among a string of inventions and cultural changes. Where ‘hard’ technologies attempt to fix ideas within a stable hardware like a Tamagotchi, the proliferating range of ‘soft’ technologies can manifest in different physical forms/ iterations, because the technology is derived from a logical, likely algorithmic system. Each artist in their own way toys with the idea of technological affects embodied in physical forms, whether its sockpuppeting, financial market data, or sensory overload. Such aspects of technology are so strong as to engulf other life systems they encounter–the scaffolding of an online comment for example can manifest in the physical wellbeing, as can a financial market report.
Immersive artworks like Perry’s gesture towards haptic and aural realities, sharing the discourse of syncopation, arpeggiation, reverent or irreverent approach to melody, and improvisational aesthetics that might be collided in the rave and reformed into subcultural political tenants. From the range of cinematic safe space, data sonification, and the phantom vibrations of cell phones in our pockets, manifest hypothetical architectures, emotional landscapes. Where screens are embedded in our palms, architecture has responded with kinesthetic, tactile electronic displays. These artworks postulate different historical, dialogical narrative relationships to time as it has been regulated by technology, through immersive installation environments, analog emulations, and puppetry, with layers of fragmentation, degradation, and sensitive sheeting. Fornieles, Goerzen, and Perry’s works find such themes, where artist’s online actions, manifested on Facebook, Instagram, and other community feeds preside along the physical works, infinitely referencing and influencing their own production and interpretation.