2023, Sculptures: 3D Print, Raspberry Pi Video Looper, Cord, 25 x 25 x 3cm (each), Animation: 2 mins 19 secs, Animation: 1 min 28 secs
Commissioned by PETRAS as part of the CyFer project, these retro-futuristic-pseudo-spiritual video sculptures are inspired by anime, 90s electronics and optimistic futures. Designed to emulate jade and rose quartz the devices seek to become metaphysical talismans, which explore the tension between the easily eroded nature of scientifically defined trust and the conversely resolute nature of spiritual belief.
Responding to academic research into FemTech the works explore the extreme level of intimacy and trust that is required to impart personal and bodily information to a device. Considering how the user may have never shared this information with anyone before, rendering it an effective secret, told exclusively between user and device and their intimate, handheld scale intends fits the closeness of a whispered secret.
The works seek to evoke a more optimistic relationship with our devices, looking particularly at the cute, colourful, and fantastical devices of 90s anime such as the Pokedex or Digivice which served users without the fear and scepticism that we experience today. By outwardly embodying this sweet and playful quality they aim to counter the sleek and cold forms of our modern-day devices, inspiring more positive connections. They also take inspiration from 90s electronics, such as Tamagotchis and the brand Girl Tech, which focused heavily on ideas of secret keeping or care.
In addition to the themes of intimacy and privacy, the works delve into issues of trust, in particular drawing out its temporality and vulnerability. Reflecting on how in recent times we see potent states of distrust even when presented with evidence, existing simultaneously with unshakable spiritual beliefs. The work inverts these tensions to instead consider and harness the power of belief and seeks to try to reconcile these seemingly opposing states.
As such the works take inspiration from talismans, as physical embodiments of inherently spiritual beliefs. They are adorned with knots and charms, which at once reference both protective talismans and playful phone charms. The materials emulate Chinese jade and rose quartz, the former bestowing transparency as sign of quality, which in turn is a metaphor for a desire for transparency in technology and in data. The pieces combined form the yin yang shape, which represents larger states of tension and coexistence.
Overall, the works embody a form of technology that acts as a counter to our present opaque, ‘black box’ technologies, by drawing on nostalgic, fantastical, and spiritual sources.
Audio by Ben Dixon