One year after the You and AI exhibition, Onassis Stegi returns to Pedion Areos park with Plásmata: Bodies, Dreams, and Data. This year’s exhibition explores the body, be it ours or the other’s; be it individual or collective, human, non-human, or ultimately planetary. Digital technology is both entering the human body and extending it beyond its bounds.
We experience, perceive, move, think, feel and explore the world with and through our bodies. Every cell, organ, tissue and all components that make up our body and complex human organism allow us to exist and survive; to live, breathe, eat, love, create, act, express ourselves, protest. Through our bodies we navigate life, we desire, grow and change, we make an impression on the world. But we can also be judged, culturally identified, stereotyped or categorised as we are exposed to the world with our bodies.
At a time when technology is not only commonplace in society, but it also imbues our bodies, it is impossible to imagine our worlds without interventions or systems that have been fulfilling desires of human improvement, enhancement, advancement and innovation. Technology has been changing the way we behave, work, live, interact, and love. It has changed the way we regard ourselves and how we are being perceived by others. And in an age of ubiquitous connectivity, with physical and virtual worlds merging at a fast rate, it is clear we are already creating a society where our lives are completely enwrapped in technological systems.
At the same time, we are seeing the impact of these systems on the body and human condition; from how we measure ourselves against societal expectations presented through digital worlds to bodies being constantly policed and surveilled. And of course the reproduction of bias and injustice, as well as harassment, hate and disinformation. Our bodies are objectified, measured, monitored, analysed, categorised, quantified, manipulated, disrespected; they can be places of abuse, violence and assault.
We are constructing worlds, where certain bodies are valued more than others or where bodies are absent, hidden, or defined through binaries. Where stereotypes are intensified and amplified. Worlds, physical and virtual, that are built about and for consumption, commercial interest and social control. We have been creating technologies, while technologies have been creating us. If we are already experiencing worlds beyond the borders of the physical space, can we possibly reimagine, shape and inhabit hybrid, synthetic spaces in ways that go beyond consumerism, exploitation and financialisation, but instead open up a multitude of perspectives, interconnectedness, and new ways of expression? Can augmented and virtual spaces take us “back to earth” rather than becoming fantasy spaces to avoid or escape it?
In a series of curated journeys unfolding through Pedion tou Areos – Athens’ largest public park – Plásmata invites us to explore how technology is shaping, affecting and impacting our bodies and identities to imagining new territories, connections and places of co-existence. The “plásmata*” one encounters in the artworks in Pedion tou Areos reveal to us a view of the human experience as a blending of material and immaterial, organic and machinic, a merge of human and nonhuman, social and physical.