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Episode 44: What is Reality? An Exclusive Quarantime Investigation!

October 9 @ 4:00 pm 5:30 pm PDT

More than ever people are asking, what’s real? How did this ever become an urgent question for our daily lives, a matter of ever greater disagreement and discord? Why? Today we turn to two artists whose practices provides beautiful insight into how we’re moving from truths “we hold to be self evident”, based on nature, to multiple manufactured realities.

1 Fluid Reality with Claudia Hart – Artist Claudia Hart has been working in extended reality and simulation since the 1990’s. She sees a schism between photography, which stems from materiality (it must be real, we took a picture of it! ) to computer mediated art which leads to simulated worlds and parallel construction. This change in our media environment over the last 30 years mirrors a movement from enlightenment-era certainty to post modern complexity and entanglement. This deconstruction of the old order helps explain modern anxiety, our political and philosophical camps, and the ascendance of fluidity — which we see in such formerly certain things as gender. What is reality? 

We’ll start today by touring Hart’s most recent work, Ruins. Billed as “an antidote to a world in crisis”, Ruins navigates from a Eurocentric paradigm of fixed photographic capture into a reality of malleable and inherently unstable computer simulations and systemic collapse. The exhibition presents a different notion of time, a present that viewers experience through the possibility of simulation technologies that use scientific data to model natural forces, the crystallization of past, future, and present into a perpetual now. 

Hart’s art uses one of today’s most popular and dominate mediums: the simulated world we experience in console games. Ruins is an audiovisual animation tracking through a claustrophobic game world from which there is no escape but also a setting from which we can explore our past imagined realities. Through the use of music (composed by Edmund Campion) the work examines the ethos of modernism through the tactical mixing of failed Utopian ideologies: Thomas Jefferson On American Liberty; The Bauhaus Manifesto by Walter Gropius; Fordlandia, Henry Ford’s failed suburban rubber plantation in the Amazon rainforest; and Jim Jones’s sermon, The Open Door.

2 Are We As Gods? Bio Reality with Amy Karle – Amy Karle is an internationally award-winning bioartist working at the nexus of where digital, physical and biological systems merge. She’s also a provocateur and a futurist, opening future visions of how art, science, and technology could be utilized to support and enhance humanity while making advancements in the technology towards those goals in the process of making her artworks. 

In REGENERATIVE RELIQUARY, Karle sculpts using 3D printed forms reproducing the lattice structure of human bones. These coax living stems cells to become those bone structures; what emerges in is artwork using the body to explore what it means to be human through a unique negotiation of art, design, science and technology. Her art and enquiry explores ethical questions about our god like power to author in biological and genetic media, and ultimately asks how we might create a positive better future and not a dystopian one. Along the way she creates art in evolutionary biology (start with a dinosaur scan provided by the Smithsonian, then use neural networks and human perspective to iterate thousands of years into the past or the future), and similarly with a human heart (ingest enormous amounts of imaging data about the heart and let loose on what a better one might be…)