vor 4 years

The future belongs to these artists. “Which body would you like to occupy today?”

The economist Shoshana Zuboff summarizes developments in the digital age with the term surveillance capitalism: “Digital connectivity is a means to other people’s business goals.” Companies collect data, elections are manipulated. Between artificial intelligence and human emotion, the future seems uncertain. For artists born around 1990, the internet and social media are a matter of course. They not only ask how technological developments affect their lives, but they also search for answers to these questions through their art. 


Ines Alpha

In the early years of Instagram, filters such as Early Bird , 1977 , and Lo-Fi were used to edit photos. The images were supposed to look as if they were taken with a Polaroid camera. Nostalgia took hold. Today, ten years later, the second wave of filters does not look to the past. Instead, artists create looks for the future. Almost overnight, Johanna Jaskowska became internationally known with her AR filter Beauty3000. A hyper-smooth, shiny mask, shimmering in bright colors, blankets the face and offers a glimpse of what a cyborg Kim Kardashian would look like. Frenchwoman Ines Alphagoes one step further. While some time ago, Kylie Jenner, for example, launched a filter with which lipstick from her Kylie Cosmetics line that can be tried out virtually, Ines Alpha creates 3D make-up that is applied via AR filters. Her filters are called future gloss , H 2 O strobing , and Oyster Moisture . Fantastic forms borrowed from the plant and animal world make the user look like a post-human being. Alpha now has over 150,000 followers and works for brands such as Dior, for whom she enhances make-up from campaigns and runway shows in the digital realm.


Arvida Byström

Swedish artist Arvida Byström has first-hand experience in social media quickly becoming more uncomfortable than the schoolyard. In particular, unbridled hatred affects women who do not conform to traditional beauty ideals. On Instagram, for example, images of women with body hair are censored. Thus, Byström repeatedly shows herself with hair on her legs and under her arms. It resulted in a shitstorm, including threats of rape, as part of a campaign for a sporting goods manufacturer. Byström is not intimidated. Internationally, she is one of the leading voices in the discussion about beauty ideals and standards. “We need an upgrade on how we see bodies,” she says. 

In the digital age, there are intersections between the body and technology. Microchips are implanted under skin, fitness trackers measure heart rates and count steps. “Why should our bodies end at the skin, or include at best other beings encapsulated by skin?” asked feminist Donna Haraway in 1984 in her cyborg manifesto. It’s already possible to change bodies and faces in ways that are not possible in reality with augmented reality filters. One of the most popular filters (on Instagram) is probably Puppy : a dog’s wet muzzle, furry ears. In her new photo series, Byström shows herself with a dog’s snout and ears, thus becoming a cute hybrid. Cutenessis an aesthetic category full of ambivalence that triggers emotional reactions. Byström appears to be a paradoxical figure that is both attractive and in need of protection.

Andy Picci

Instagram can serve as a portfolio and digital exhibition space for artists. For Swiss artist Andy Picci , it is an artistic medium. His theme is identity in the digital age, so he immediately incorporates technological innovations into his artistic practice. Sociologist Zygmunt Bauman has proposed “transience” and “fluidity” as metaphors for the specifics of our present. In his book Liquid Modernity, he writes: “Ours is, as a result, an individualized, privatized version of modernity, with the burden of pattern-weaving and the responsibility for failure falling primarily on the individual’s shoulders. It is the patterns of dependency and interaction whose turn to be liquefied has now come. They are now malleable to an extent unexperienced by, and unimaginable for, past generations; but like all fluids they do not keep their shape for long. ” Identities, for example, become more fluid, especially in the digital world. One moment you are a cute dog with a wet muzzle and dog ears, the next you are a sexy cyborg with a smooth and shiny mask on your face. In his new installation, LiquID, Andy Picci lets the viewer encounter their digital self in the form of a hologram with changing AR filters that liquify the face.


What will happen to people if climate change makes the earth uninhabitable? The collective Keiken (Isabel Ramos, Tanya Cruz, and Hana Omori) and George Jasper Stone have created a future scenario in the CGI film Feel my Metaverse : People flee into virtual worlds. Each day, Panda, O, and C, the film’s three protagonists, can choose a new body, they can download feelings such as love and suffering, they can use the self-propelled service Uber 3000 Moral Compass. Taxi services and therapy are combined, because: “Being in motion is great for reflection. I give my clients direction. I successfully navigate their emotional complexity and orient their mental health. The most crucial question suddenly seems to be : “Which body would you like to occupy today?” And connected to it: Why this particular body? “I am still thinking about it,” C says in the film. The question remains unanswered, but there is certainty that Uber 3000 will point the way.

Text by Anika Meier

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