Anticipating the emerging “computer age” of the 1970s, American futurologist Alvin Toffler’s seminal book, Future Shock (1970) predicted the ways in which the pace and scope of technological change could cause “shattering stress and disorientation”, envisioning the dramatic effect of becoming a “super-industrialised society”. Since then, the potential of technology has continued to grow exponentially as social media, the metaverse, and VR continues to expand the realms of our experience.
Taking its name from Toffler’s prescient text, Future Shock, a new exhibition at 180 Studios, brings together pioneering artists on the radical vanguard of audio-visual technology, renegotiating boundaries between the physical and the virtual, and challenging our perceptions of reality.
“The artists in the exhibition are using technology to explore these themes in different ways,” explains co-curator and editor of Fact, Sean Bidder. “From the futuristic worlds imagined by Lawrence Lek, Romain Gavras, and Actual Objects to the sensory physicality of UVA’s perspective-shifting installations or Weirdcore’s immersive series of rooms, soundtracked by Aphex Twin, which feels like you are stepping inside a computer.”
Creating a “liminal space somewhere between dystopia and utopia”, Bidder characterises the overarching themes of the different artists on display as generating “the collapse of creative silos… merging art, music, and technology.”
He talks us through the experience of moving through this series of artworks occupying the vast gallery space in the monolithic building: “The show is an immersive, sensory overload, designed to reflect the information overload of any given day. Hamill Industries – a collective from Barcelona – created a light and sound sculpture called ‘Vortex’ which blows a smoke ring at you, soundtracked by a new score from Floating Points; Nonotak’s ‘Daydream v6’ reconfigures the space around you with a synapse-splitting light display; Tundra’s ‘Row’repurposes holographic projectors to create a set of symphonic illusions; Caterina Barbieri encourages you to place your hand on her melting ice sculpture; Japanese artist Ryoichi Kurokawa’s ‘subassemblies’ is like stepping inside VR without the headset, with quadraphonic sound and strobing accompanying, the exhilarating dual-screen warping imagery of urban and environmental ruins.” But, ultimately, he says, “You have to experience it for yourself…”
Future Shock (presented by Fact and 180 Studios) is at 180 Studios until August 28 2022