During the pandemic, the borders were closed, the lines of demarcation were widened and the gestures were “barriers”. Paradoxically, partitions have also fallen. Those of our domestic spaces via webcams, our tools and digital data, but also those of communication formats. In the confined world, projects have become collaborative, behind the scenes has gone into the spotlight while behind the scenes have taken the lead. Since computer screens are the only meeting point, you might as well explore their perimeter. This is where the Fotomuseum in Winterthur, Switzerland, and the Photographers’Gallery, in London, take us on a joint program. Failing to wander around in nature, Jon Uriarte and Marco De Mutiis, the two digital curators of these institutions of European photography, lead us – in English without subtitles – in pixel trees. With Screen Walks (1), an online program halfway between the guided tour and the workshop, the conference and the intimate confession, they reveal the practices of artists who have chosen the screen as their postulate.
In one live stream replayable, we follow for example Alan Butler, for whom the gaming is a creative space. The Irish artist has captured social misery with his pictures of homeless people present in the game. Grand Theft Auto. For his series “Virtual Cyanotype Botany”, Butler used the cyanotype, a photographic process dating from the XIXe century, to document the plant life that grows in video games. As comfortable in the virtual as in the real, the artist thus practices street photography as any photographer would do in a city.
In another conference, Roc Herms, member of a group of gamers, explains the origins of its immersion in screens. Accustomed to frequenting virtual communities since childhood, the artist from Barcelona realizes their importance the day when one of his friends tells him, during a game, “Man, this is real”. Home, his autobiography, returns to this dive into virtual universes where he even spends the New Year: he brings back postcards, portraits and freeze frames collected in his book Postcards From Home.
For Penelope Umbrico, online sales sites are the raw material of her work. An appropriationist and compulsive collector of quality images, the American artist is often stuffed on the Web – notably on Craigslist, the American leader in classified ads services – or on Flickr, a site for sharing family images. From her online immersion, Penelope Umbrico takes thousands of photos (sunsets, wardrobes, televisions, broken screens) which she then assembles to create fascinating video walls. Thanks to the screen sharing key, she reveals the multiple files that populate her computer: vertigo seizes in front of the abyss of its trees. Next conference on May 20 with Spanish artist Joana Moll who is interested in Amazon’s aggressive business model.