CAIA HAGEL, 2015
_I wonder if, especially in secular Western society where spiritual poverty is increasing, artists play a spiritual role more than ever. Living and working in Istanbul, you're straddling the West and the East and have insight and experience in/to both. What are your thoughts on this?
As :mK rather than assuming a spiritual role we are interested in emancipating and empowering the sensory faculties of man that is impoverished within the contemporary context. Today, the notion of touching upon the ‘other’, metaphorically as well as physically, is invalidated since the notion of the ‘other’ itself has become meaningless in a world where trust is lost forever. We intend with our works to appeal to the viewer’s senses to such an extent that at times the works almost violate the viewer’s personal space, however during this process the viewer becomes aware of his/her senses and this awareness is very central to our works.
_If artists are 'oracles', you seem to be aware of, and telling us, that we are on the brink of a very big shift - what are you seeing and how do you place this in history (Industrial Revolution to post-capitalism)?
This shift has already been in effect as the contemporary state of mind takes root not in fear but in anxiety since today’s reality is a hypercomplex one of the networked world. Today we are no longer able to envision a future but rather a future without hope occupies our here and now. :mentalKLINIK works with a retrospective point of view from the future transposing the possibilities of the future into today.
_When we spoke in Sardinia, and we were discussing how human desire keeps us bound to a painful 'unfulfilled state', which can perhaps never be broached because of the barrier that the human body creates between fantasy and reality - you mentioned how you predict that Oculus will help us break through this barrier. Can you explain this more deeply, from your
point of view? We discussed Oculus being able to heal as well, because of its ability to help us live out our taboos and perversions. How do you see this working?
The question of reality has always been a driving force for :mentalKLINIK. :mentalKLINIK deals with augmented reality because it shifts our perceptional relations. We try to record augmented reality’s effects on our ways of seeing and sensing. Augmented reality is an environment that includes both virtual reality and real-world elements at the threshold of the future and the present. The possibility of breaching the barrier that you mention is created by tools of augmented reality such as Oculus. Such tools enable an ubiquitous presence, a simultaneous presence both in fantasy and reality engaging the senses at the same time. These tools’ function is neither positive nor negative by nature however they can be applied for either a positive or a negative end. They can be applied as a vehicle for mass control or as an apparatus for breaching the above-mentioned barrier and thus for healing our painful, unfulfilled state. If man could afford not to take himself/herself so serious s/he would be able to build a new notion of trust and to create a collective mind that is without ego, capable of merging the physical and the virtual worlds for a better end.
_Carl Jung discovered the 'Collective Unconscious' and theorized about its contents. Do you see cyberspace as a place where these previously invisible things - desires, impulses, longings - as well as 'oneness' have been made visible?
Neuro-scientific studies along with developments in cyberspace enable the datafication of these elements which used to be previously invisible. As they get datafied they are subject to being measured and therefore to being manipulated. While the oneness of the collective unconscious of the past signified rather a domain of liberation, the oneness of the new datafied collective unconscious is a totalitarian domain. Within this domain man is no longer free to express his/her desires, impulses or longings but rather his/her desires, impulses and longings are programmed.
_Did you read that article Ars Erotica by Mario Vargas Llosa in Harper's? He laments pornography's influence on imagery and the imaginary - as an erosion of the sophisticated art of loving and sexing between human beings. He says the way technology deals with the erotic reduces it to crude biology, when as the only animals on earth with minds, we are able to do so much more with our desires and erotics. In light of the themes in 83% Satisfaction Guaranteed, how do you feel about this?
Our works appeal to and trigger/stimulate the senses. They are erotic but not pornographic. By this we mean that they do not impose themselves upon the viewer but invite him/her into their own reality where all senses are engaged. For example with poprocks both the senses of hearing and taste are engaged and an intoxicating process that continues in the body is triggered. In addition, rather than offering just erotic imagery our works trigger all sorts of sensual responses from the viewer and lets him/her revel in his/her own imaginary eroticism.
_You're looking at the digital self and the interrelating of technology with humanity in many ways in this show - from Woo (robotic intimacy) to the Profiles series (featuring people presented as words on mirrors as manufactured brands). As we move deeper into the digital world, what do you feel is metamorphosing in us and how is the human experience changing? You seem to be introducing an aesthetics of this. How would you describe this aesthetics and do you have a name for it?
This metamorphosis that is taking place while robotifying the human beings humanizes the robots at the same time, therefore it is a dual relationship, one that only an oxymoron is capable of defining. We are also a transitional generation that knows both worlds, that of our physical reality and of the virtual one. Our aesthetic is rooted in this threshold where the physical looks virtual and the virtual appears physical. Between the sound loop of digital noises, the many different angles on contemporary dissatisfaction and the pop rocks/champagne participative performance on opening night, 83% Satisfaction Guaranteed assaults us with stimulation. Some artist-theorists (Hito Steyerl, Jalal Toufic) are beginning to wonder if humans are parasites of technology, solicited by 'technology's intelligence' to generate, like, store, share its hyper data production. Others (Jon Rafman) feel that digital experience is less to do with technology and much more about human consciousness, that humans manipulate technology to express their consciousness. Whether it is humans or technology that acts as parasite, our relationship with technology is blurring the line between image/object and information/material.
_How do you hope this show addresses this, and makes us feel?
Lost, anxious and depressive. Lost in our senses, anxious to feel and depressive about our state or being.