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Shroud/Chrysalis I

Shroud/Chrysalis I is an emblem of our new technological environment - is it a body bag or a chrysalis? Will it be the death of 'us' or a kind of rebirth of 'post human'. Or both? This dilemma is seen in the rhetoric and sensibility of the new technologies that we intensify and tighten all around us.

Two women wrap a spectator in copper fabric, a total immersion in a wireless circuit. But instead of plugging us in, which is the accepted notion of wireless, this copper unplugs us from cell phones, radio, television and other signals that habitually submerge us.

The spectator is now the object in the work. This switch is typical of new technology's surveillance and a pressure on our understanding of our subjectivity.

This work questions 'wireless', 'wearable' and 'immersion' - ubiquitous terms in information technology. The protective unplugging contradicts 'wearable' computing that aims to further electrify the body.

It follows the artwork "Curiosity Cabinet at the end of the Millennium" and is paired with its opposite, a work that intensely plugs in spectators, " I was scared to death/I could have died from joy".

The glass table is inspired by the tables that were used in early electricity treatments where the 'patient' had a little table under their feet to unground them. The spectator signs up for a time slot and two women unfold the cloth. The spectator lies down and is wrapped completely. The cloth is semi transparent and the spectator can see through enough.

The spectator is now in a reversed position, they are the object, and must negotiate an object position. Other spectators entering the room especially at this point treat them as an object, some think there is a machine inside making breathing movements and even if they do realize there is a person they still treat them as an object.

It is a work that is often coupled with a related artwork, Shroud/Chrysalis II, which is a stereo print of the end of the wrapping performance that acts as a kind of virtual memory of Shroud/Chrysalis I.

These pieces have all the attraction and seduction, surrender and anxiety with which we engage our technologies.

Copyright © Catherine Richards. All Rights Reserved.