DIGITAL & DEAD: Artist Talk w/ Sarah Derat & Rachel McRae | MAL Seminars

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Darryl Forde Seminar Room

UCL Anthropology Department

14 Taviton Street

London

WC1H 0BW

United Kingdom

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DIGITAL AND DEAD | Artist Talk with Sarah Derat and Rachel McRae


FRIDAY NOVEMBER 30TH

5 - 7 PM /// DFSR

UCL ANTHROPOLOGY



In addition to delivering an artist talk exploring their collaborative exploration of themes surrounding digitization, memorialization and death in contemporary digital culture, visual artists Sarah Derat and Rachel McRae will also present an installation of their 2017 augmented reality project Digital&Dead for UCL MAL’s evening seminar series.


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Rituals of death and dying have changed considerably in the 21st century. As the approach to the body became increasingly sanitised, the corpse’s physical presence was dematerialised, pushing the body into another realm almost entirely. Social media platforms have accelerated this process by providing deceased users a form of eternity through dematerialized transmogrification; from dead flesh to data.

Approximately 8000 Facebook users die every day and many reports suggest the ratio of living versus dead users might reverse by the end of the century; turning Facebook into the largest remembrance platform... an online graveyard.


Each of us has or will witness the death of a social media friend; her/his profile left unaltered or turned into a remembrance page by a relative who navigated a complex, constantly amended and updated administrative process. Only a minority of these profiles are taken down, most remaining strangely, virtually, “alive”.

Web 2.0 not only provides better user interactivity, it collects and archives everything: allowing social media platforms to provide the continual persistence of an absence. Zombified profiles keep calling to us; notifications, alerts and shared memories continuously popping up in a nonhuman attempt at communication. It is in this process, through this dialogue with a life-mimicking algorithm, that the digital and IRL experience overlap: converging into one. The Dead transmogrified into the Digital.

We wonder; has the algorithm made us eternal or undead? And specifically, what is the appropriate way to memorialize the deceased, post-body, in the age after the Internet?

Digital&Dead (2017), produced by artists Sarah Derat and Rachel McRae, is an immersive Augmented Reality (AR) sculpture only visible through the screen of a smart-device held up like a window onto the other side. The viewer can interact and examine a monument haunting the exhibition space: the sculpture appearing on-screen through a Target-as-Portal, as if it were within the room. The viewer can walk around the monument as it morphs between different shapes, mimicking the minimal geometry of gravestones, tombs, monuments and monolithic server/data farms. They simultaneously experiences a multi-layer sound composition using field recordings from London cemeteries, a text-piece culled from social media memorials and conversations with chatbots.

Date and Time

Location

Darryl Forde Seminar Room

UCL Anthropology Department

14 Taviton Street

London

WC1H 0BW

United Kingdom

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