Feeling In The Eyes explores the ever evolving notion of materiality in the context of our accelerated present, specifically through the post-internet condition.
The nature of materiality, initially understood as physicality of things, has taken on new meanings through time and advancements in technology. Whilst it is easy to think of the Internet, as some kind of invisible, immaterial force, it is crucial to bear in mind that the online world is as physical as the fibre optic cables, the technology allowing us to transmit data, between people across the globe, modulated onto light waves, stored on servers, and interfaced with on screens and devices. At the same time, as the relation between the media and the user re-elaborates itself in new and perhaps unpredictable ways, materiality in the post-internet condition remains plastic, mutant at all times. Like a cloud, that can only be analysed as a whole, its pieces, torn apart, will not present the same properties by themselves. Its physical essence emerges through the continuum of networks across space and time, while its performative character comes to light through a contingency of connotations.
In 2003 in North-America, a huge cascading failure in the electrical system caused fifty million people not to use electricity for two days: considering the causes and the effects of this event, it becomes clear that electricity cannot be defined as a set of physical phenomena generating electric charge only. Instead, it is worth looking at it as a complex object, as a flux of electrons measured in ampere and yet also in volts, that has 'active' and 'reactive' power, and includes electrical power companies with their political-economic interests and involvement with local governments.*
Like above, the concept of materiality is currently subject to a shift from thinking of objects as mere static entities to understanding them as events in a continuum, moving within different networks and always on their way to be transformed into something else.
The sensible has therefore been redistributed, with the purpose of looking at the ways in which objects, not only humans anymore, influence and inform changes in the politics of a system. Distribution becomes the key to understand materiality, together with decentralisation and dispersion. They are the constitutive qualities of collective experience, and inform the ideas of sharing and collective reworking within the internet environment, as well collective agency, image production, reproduction, circulation, dissemination, consumption and more. In this space, time itself is diffused. With no preset narrative and no specific protocol sequence, everything is a mix of past, present and possible across multiple circuits: 'The news, amazon.com, a make-up tutorial, a movie trailer, fake or real, a Benjamin essay, a French-English dictionary, some porn, our most private correspondence, a fashion photography book, an art magazine, yet another funny cat video all appear together and interchangeable— not to mention our music, photographs, texts, contacts and other material stored in other programs. What can’t appear online in another window, another tab, on the same screen at the same time?'**
Departing from the idea of the Internet environment as a material which is fluid, plastic— a distributed, dislocated entity within multiple temporalities, the works in the exhibition explore the notion of materiality as something that is ever changing, and is endlessly reconfigured in this free flowing zone of re-negotiation. The impact of materiality in these terms is not only sociological, but economical, political, existential, psychological, epistemological: it is total***— beyond a label which is meant to mark a certain, already passed, historical-cultural moment.
* Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter, 2009.
** Jennifer Allen, True Blue or the Work of Images in the Age of Digital Reproduction, Mousse Magazine, 2014.
*** Interview with Bernard Stiegler for the World Wide Web Conference. Lyon, April 2012.