Over the past few years “contact” has become a contradictory word. We are encouraged to avoid it in person while at the same time craving for it. We have the ability to reach out across oceans and yet we are more isolated and alienated than ever before. This contentious relationship with contact on the abstract level highlights how the need to touch, communicate and share is integral to the human experience.
In this exhibition you will find works that address contact in all its contradictions through three main themes: physical and social contact with each other, contact with and through the non-human world, and contact with and through technological systems that both amplify and constrain it. As you enter the exhibition, Pandemic statements, and our commission, In Silence turn the panopticon onto itself and convert it into a tool of contact and healing. During the pandemic, remote video and webcams, usually tools of the surveillance state brought us imperfectly closer to each other.
On the other hand, Would you like to hear how we met? It’s a funny story, invites you on a date with the police-state, pushing you into a space of discomfort and confusion. Other works address the curious ways AI interprets us and our needs: Estuas, also at the entrance, is an AI interpretation of our world and the life it contains as seen from satellites. In Dirtscraper, an artificial intelligence attempts to maintain an arcology, a self-sustaining and self-contained city within a building, working at all costs while independent agents within it attempt to survive within a system that is often at odds with their needs.
Outside the gallery space, you can venture to the woods to find spiritual and emotional release through mediated contact with fungi in Fungal Chapel . Inside, we find an interactive means of touching and experiencing an entire food system through Seed Cabinet , juxtaposed with the absurd yet very real application of technologies used in space exploration towards regenerating our own planet rather than abandoning it in Made Ground, providing us with a more hopeful outlook onto the false nature/technology dichotomy.
The last big thread you can find in this show is that of location, and our relationship to where we live. A Stream of Data Scrapes the Earth and Casts Me Through attempts to find emotional and physical connection through technology during isolation. Continuing this idea of isolation, Dwelling in the Enfolding presents us with simulated access to pristine, fantastic, yet real glacial spaces that escape our comprehension by their distance to us – yet are still affected by human caused climate change. The same landscape is also reflected upon in Water Stories, bringing together voices of people living in and adjacent to this very landscape. Community voices such as these appear in many other parts of this exhibition, bringing into contact people from as far afield as Alaska and as close to home as Connecticut College itself.
It is our hope this exhibition makes you consider how you connect to your environment, society and technologies and discover new ways to engage with the people and the world around you.