“Absence/Hyper-Atlas”: a prisoner of the Canvas

«Absence/Hyper-Atlas»: prisonnier de la Toile

Photo Gallery: Patrick Mikhail
Amy Schissel, “New World Order”, 2017

Installed on the boulevard Saint-Laurent since march, 2018, the gallery Patrick Mikhail shows these days, two exhibitions dealing with the linkages between humanity and new technologies. These last have changed profoundly our relationship to the work, and the world in general, as claimed in the snapshot in the dominant discourse ? Are they responsible for the alienation of our beings ?

In parallel to the expo Landing Sites, the shows these days at Dazibao (until 26 January), Thomas Kneubühler showing at the Patrick Mikhail a series of photos made in 2001. Entitled Absence, she shows portraits of individuals who seem to be totally absorbed by something that is out of the scope of the image. These faces are actually those of the workers watching, like spellbound, their computer screen.

«Absence/Hyper-Atlas»: prisonnier de la Toile

Photo Gallery: Patrick Mikhail
Amy Schissel, New World Order, 2017

While we tend to criticize the lack of concentration of our contemporaries, their need for papillonner, these are images which, paradoxically, attract our disapproval. These individuals are not attentive to what they are doing ? It must be said that the technology seems to be these days perceived as a drug that takes possession of our body and makes us absent to our own existence… is this not the heart of the debate ? It is far from being safe…

These images point to an out-of-frame that goes beyond the question of technology. They alert us of an omission in this vision of the world. They call us to reflect on the social context of the work, the precariousness of jobs, the increase in unaccounted number of hours worked, the growth in the number of stock-outs professional and depressions which are related to… The technology, in this context, is just one more tool to address this alienation of the individual by the economic systems that never end to put pressure on the workers so that they always produce more.

The power of its network

Always at the gallery Patrick Mikhail, in the first two rooms, the artist Amy Schissel is installed, drawings that are reminiscent of networks that carried out the artist Mark Lombardi (1951-2000) about collusion underground between instances of the power, companies and criminal organisations, linking for example the Vatican to the mafia, the Bush family and the CIA to Bin Laden…

Even if this may seem almost impossible, Schissel broadens the discussion. It gives to see a world dominated by a network, a constellation which has nothing to light. As if a threat to the world of computing over the world. In its Post-Digital Landscapes and its Gateways (series referring to gateways between computer networks), the references are drawn. It takes gigantic proportions with Hyper Atlas, a sort of huge map of the world by 90 feet long.

«Absence/Hyper-Atlas»: prisonnier de la Toile

Photo: Thomas Kneubühler
Image from the series Absence (2001) by Thomas Kneubühler

Schissel uses the traditional medium of acrylic, ink and graphite on paper to embody the new systems, the networks, but also cloud computing. This will evoke mirrored the work of Georg Nees (1926-2016), a pioneer of digital art in the 1960s, who used the computer to create patterns that resemble works of art.

At a time when systems such as Facebook are accused of selling it to companies and political interests of the data they have about their users, where telephone companies such as Huawei are suspected to be relayed to the chinese government information on citizens, you can be entitled to become very suspicious. There will not, however, believe that previously there was no system of monitoring of citizens… Before, we had the priests, the laws and even the police who immisçaient morally, even in the bedrooms.

We seemed a bit liberated from these forms of alienation. It will be necessary to begin again the fight. But above all, will stop to believe that technology is a progress or a regression in itself. It will reaffirm how technology is a tool that depends on the values that the company wishes to be.


Thomas Kneubühler, until 19 January/By Amy Schissel, until 31 December, at the galerie Patrick Mikhail

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