Telematic Media Arts presents
From XR to Social VR
A Solo Show of Evolving Work
by Carla Gannis / C.A.R.L.A. G.A.N.
with original music by R. Luke DuBois
September 5th – October 8th, 2020
Saturday, September 5th, 3:00 – 6:00pm PDT
Visit the exhibition at our SOMA gallery space, streaming on our website, or in Social VR via Mozilla Hubs:
Scene 1) https://hubs.mozilla.com/b59bLGS/wwwunderkammer-main-gallery
Scene 2) https://hubs.mozilla.com/gYTejrW/scene-02-game-cabinet-castle
Scene 3) https://hubs.mozilla.com/ZromXuJ/scene-01-telematic
***Due to the on-going, global pandemic, gallery visits will be limited to one person at a time. Masks will be worn and required at all times. We will wipe down all surfaces between visits and maintain the strictest possible health protocols to ensure the safety of our visitors***
Confronted with a global pandemic, the temporary closing of our gallery, and the inability to share her "cabinet of curiosities" with audiences in the flesh, New York artist Carla Gannis spent the last six months re-constructing her virtual wwwunderkammer as a publicly accessible, interactive environment in Social VR. At a time when our social lives have been moved almost wholesale on-line, she constructed a richly imaginative forum, where audiences can gather, play, reflect on and engage with the ideological and aesthetic parameters of cyberspace.
Cabinets of curiosity emerged in 16th – Century Europe as whole rooms – repositories – filled with art and antiques, natural specimens, scientific instruments, and exotica collected from the far reaches of the globe. As precursors to modern museums, these wunderkammeren – translated literally as “wonder chambers” – were pedagogical in purpose, designed to reflect the erudition of collectors as much as their wealth and accomplishments, but they also aimed to provoke audiences’ imaginations, presenting artistic depictions of myths alongside natural objects, and frequently confusing science with superstition in their speculative reconstruction of the “theater of the world.”
Carla Gannis’ wwwunderkammer, appeals to the cabinet of curiosities to explore the boundaries between grounded reality and virtual reality, nature and artifice, science and science-fiction in contemporary networked culture and society. The exhibition is organized in layers of virtuality. The gallery itself provides an initial liminal space, already set apart from the everyday, where Gannis presents a collection of physical objects, drawings, trompe-l'oeil paintings, 3D-prints, and other digitally manipulated objects, depicting animal and plant life (recently discovered biological organisms along with contemporary, artificially crafted ones), humanoid robots, and imagined landscapes. Augmented reality software, on an accompanying digital tablet, adds a further degree of virtuality to Gannis’ installation, by animating these creatures and characters, and by providing them with histories, mythologies, and other speculative explanations.
Finally, Carla Gannis’ installation culminates in a fully immersive VR experience, with a virtual reconstruction of Telematic’s gallery itself, which enters onto a whole network of “cabinets,” populated with animated avatars, developed through the artist's “After Arcimboldo” series, as figures of a decolonized, post-human, feminist future. Originally built for an HTC Vive headset in the gallery, this virtual world is now available on-line, as a publicly accessible, interactive environment in social VR, providing audiences a way to immerse themselves in her “theater of the world,” while still sheltering in place. Gannis’ re-envisioning of her project in social VR reaffirms the currency of her work, highlighting the ideological dimensions of the digital spaces we now so often occupy, while also inviting audiences to collectively contribute to a more richly inclusive, just, and creatively colorful future.
Carla Gannis is a Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist, who works as Industry Professor at NYU in the Integrated Digital Media Program in the Department of Technology, Culture and Society. Gannis produces virtual and physical works that are darkly comical in their contemplation of human, earthly and cosmological conditions. Fascinated by digital semiotics and the lineage of hybrid identity, Gannis takes a horror vacui approach to her artistic practice, drawing inspiration from networked communication, art and literary history, emerging technologies and speculative fiction. Gannis' work has appeared in exhibitions, screenings and internet projects across the globe. Recent projects include "Portraits in Landscape," Midnight Moment, Times Square Arts, NY and "Sunrise/Sunset," Whitney Museum of American Art, Artport. A regular lecturer on art, innovation and society, in March 2019 Gann was a speaker at the SXSW Interactive Festival on the panel "Human Presence and Humor Make Us Better Storytellers." Publications that have featured Gannis' work include The Creators Project, Wired, FastCo, Hyperallergic, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, El Pafs and The LA Times, among others. She is currently part of the 2020/2021 Class at New INC, the New Museum's cultural incubator, as a member of the XR Bodies in Space track, supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.