Over the past few months, nostalgia has been omnipresent in our hyperconnected memory culture. 

Alexandra Busila  |  Ed YoungMi Lamine  |  8 July 2020

© Courtesy of the artist.

I was interested to find out how is the lockdown adding to the social fabric and what do artists privately do with this collectively triggered nostalgia. And then, I came across “Patterns of Failure”, a performance by emerging scenographer and artist Rebecca van Beeck who also has a background in architecture. The wonderfully self-conscious and bittersweet piece was shown at THE PLOT, a virtual gallery space created by artist and architect Alex Coetzee and the MAAK, a design-led architecture studio co-founded by Max Melvill and Ashleigh Killa. 

The project was inspired by No-Stop City, a speculative city concept from the radical Archizoom, in which they imagine a continuous and undefined space born from an open and participatory design. THE PLOT is similarly envisioned as a kind of infinite and inclusive landscape, without a defined or recognisable form, a neutral structure capable of transforming freely. In this complex territory, architecture becomes dematerialised and fluid. As Alex Coetzee told us in our last talk: “The Internet has made that world a reality, but maybe not in the kind of spatial way they predicted.” 

But there is more to that story: the radical architects represented a generation in search of a new reality even though at a first glance it might not seem that way. In the urban system, they speculated for instance that the outdoor space and indoor space would converge into one large habitational project. The dwellings would be needed for temporary use and the home would no longer be a stable concept but an available place suitable to a more free and creative way of understanding domestic space. This urban system was intended to be repetitive and horizontal, without monuments, behind which every genre distinction crumbles to dust. Isn’t that what we should ask of the contemporary gallery space?

It’s a super fascinating collaboration the more I think about it. I get a sense that for them, public space, the space of representation theatricalises itself, becomes “spontaneously” a place for unpredictable walks and encounters, intrigues, diplomacy, playfulness and events. That is why when faced with the mission to give the Internet a place, a spatial quality the result has so many incredible rhythms and it offers itself to our eyes in a confounding simultaneity. And when it comes to the Internet as a public space, the stories Rebecca van Beeck‘s shared with us during the talk revolutionised my idea of what online gatherings could become.

20.07.08 Agora Talk - The PLOT

I now see what Luciana Parisi asserts in “Contagious Architecture: Computation, Aesthetics, and Space” which is, digital design as a mode of thought is in fact a form of immanent experience.  I especially love how THE PLOT as a project openly embraces this kind of non-linearity, indeterminacy and emergence. And let’s face it, in a winner-take-all gallery economy in which most galleries are unimaginatively forcing the offline upon the online, as Ashleigh Killa pointed out during our conversation, it is refreshing to engage in an online art experience which helps you forget for a little while about the contemporary art trade’s current state of delirium. You should try it sometimes.

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Founded in 2020, Agora Digital Art offers a range of content talks focused on New Media to expand our community’s perspectives on art, expression, and interpretation.

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