The world of plenty is New Babylon, the world in which man no longer toils, but plays; poetry as a way of life for the masses.
– Constant Nieuwenhuys.
A two-person exhibition by Phillip Reeves and Jim Woodall, in which the artists explore the ambiguity of utopian thinking in relation to Constant Nieuwenhuys’ manifesto ‘New Babylon’.
The visionary manifesto – conceived and designed during an experimental working period between 1959 and 1974 – is an architectural suggestion for a new society focused on self-realisation. The artists seek to question the spatial limitations and possibilities of New Babylon by suggesting a comparison with ‘Second Life’, the online virtual space within which users can traverse, build and interact with each other through avatars.
The large-scale installation in the VITRINE window consists of elements from their studio practice which emerged as they captured their spatial impressions during journeys and interactions in the virtual space of Second Life.
The manner in which these journeys were undertaken are followed by a method established by the Situationists; the dérive, as defined by Guy Debord. The dérive is an unplanned tour through an urban landscape, entirely directed by the initial feelings an individual perceives about the experienced environment at the given moment.
Choosing the virtual land Sharp Continent to begin their journey, the artist’s attempt to determine whether there are parallels within Second Life and ‘New Babylon.’ Sharp Continent interests the artists as it is subject to the highest population decrease in Second life and can be compared to a failed Utopia. It includes large areas of abandoned land, which have become prone to digital decay and influx of ‘cyber squatters’ who are utilising the area without paying subscription for it.
Reeves and Woodall recorded their virtual impressions on video with the aim to shape the production of the installation modules. Not only have they used these recordings to exemplify the installation, they have also decided to combine these with further footage from the outside world. This footage is supposed to draw a parallel to the virtual space by using visual components that correspond with the virtual composition of the Second Life recordings.
The exhibition will therefore be accompanied by a screening that enables an insight into their artistic process and reference material to the overall project.
Curated by Vlada Maria Tcharyeva.