Exhibitions ▸ 256.256.256.256
Artists: Harry Levene/Jon Pigrem
256.256.256.256. is an interactive multi-media installation which questions notions of location, physicality and the effects of technology on community. Modern technologies have altered our notions of location and navigation. We can navigate the world faster and easier than ever before and often without leaving our living rooms. Do we accept these advances in technology without questioning the changing nature of our relationships with and notion of space, place and location? How do they affect cultural evolution and social development? Do these technologies serve pluralistic multicultural societies or just lead to a homogenisation of global culture?
The audience is invited into an immersive audiovisual environment and is prompted to go on a journey. The journey takes place on a map of the city projected onto the gallery floor. Motion tracking software tracks the audience’s movement across the map and provides them with interactive feedback. Superimposed on the map is a pattern comprising of a schematic representation of the human body, originally laid out in salt, appearing eight times, radiating at 45 degree intervals from a central point. As the audience moves across the map the body is scattered and reformed in its footsteps, illustrating the transience of people as they cross the city and symbolising their dispersal and reconfiguration elsewhere as individuals or community. The spatialised 4-channel soundtrack features the sounds of various modes of transport, virtual or physical, old or new. The spatial distribution of the sound is related to the movements of the audience within the space. The sounds of transport are accompanied by those of scattering salt as the pattern on the floor is disturbed.
As the audience navigates the map they are asked questions (projected on to the floor in one or more languages) about their navigation. They are asked to question:
- Where are you?
- Where are you going?
- How are you getting there?
- Is your journey virtual or physical? Why? Has it always been?
- Do you inhabit a virtual city? How does this change your journey?
- Do you feel physically connected to your surroundings?
- Is location cultural, economic and political or just an IP address?
- Are you static in your transience or transient in your stasis?
The audience is engaged on four levels: instantly, by the audiovisual presentation; secondly, on a personal level as they explore their journey; thirdly, on a cognitive level as they realise their interaction with the installation; and finally, a contemplative level as they question their navigations.
The four stages of engagement with the work are encapsulated by the graphic representation of the human body, symbolising physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels (or bodies) within one, which at once locate us in and take us beyond the everyday. How does each body/level experience movement from place to place? Do they recognise the same transition? Are they similarly connected to one place or another and affected by the impact of new technologies? Can they act on each other to broaden our understanding of how to retain connections which might otherwise seem lost?
The spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical levels/bodies (depicted in the Sigil8) are alluded to in the title of the work 256.256.256.256., where each is a quarter of the whole, occurring in any order to hint at their interdependence. This twelve digit number is also intended to resemble an IP address.