Words from the curator
A Playful Discussion between “Human” Invigilators and Digital Art
Amiel Maucade | Ed. Peter Traynor | 2 July 2021
Homo Ex-Machina – Now Playable is Digital Art you have to play. Joshanne Dar presents a creative New Media video game where navigation is at your own leisure… or at your own risk. The game offers an immersive platform that relies on human instinct, and there’s a tension created by the fear of losing one’s self in the meditative and exploratory realm the game creates that raises fascinating topical questions.
Agora Digital Art presents Joshanne Dar, an Asian-Australian artist whose practice merges art direction, filmmaking, moving images, performance, sculpture and digital installation. Her interests incorporate science, math and psychology and she uses these to create alternative discourses around social topics, through deconstruction and experimentation with atmosphere and subject matter.
Dar’s Homo Ex-Machina – Now Playable builds on the preoccupation with our relationship with New Media art. Joshanne wonderfully uses all the media within this creative umbrella term, including artworks designed and produced by means of new media technologies, comprising virtual art, computer graphics, computer animation, digital art, interactive art, video games and cyborg art.
The artwork Homo Ex-Machina asks how technology has permeated into our bodies and psyches, and wonders how we can observe the line where we end and the machine begins. Her work continuously naturalizes the man-machine cooperation and sheds light on the phenomenology of cyborgs, meaning the ways in which they experience both life and their own consciousness. This artwork’s ethos is a dialectical discussion: mechanizing humans while simultaneously humanizing the machine.
Dar’s impetus exists in the exploration of the video game as an art medium. It represents an entirely simulated and virtual risk guided by an emotional response in the digital space. The game, Homo Ex-Machina as a work of active fiction, is a medium that demands that the site of the experience be contained within the virtual; it does not enter the tethering plane of collective experience that is our physical reality. Yet the ex-nihilo digital realm plunges the player into survival mode where instinct is the only remaining human logic.
What makes the game really intricate is that there’s no winning or losing, yet there’s a possibility of endlessly falling into the void. The audience experiences a unique bending in the temporality of the digital space.
This thought-provoking work would like to play with ideas of how our cyborg phenomenology can exist purely within the virtual space and therefore bypass our physical bodies. The New Media game takes on an entirely simulated meaning, creating an intentional forgetfulness of matter, at least for the time we’re playing the art game.
Dar’s work is designed to be experienced remotely and on personal devices. The intention is to create a conscious dialogue between the user and the device. As per the technology chosen, the game behaves slightly differently depending on the device (make, model, brand) it is played on; and therefore highlights the fragmentation of phenomenological experience afforded by the varied ubiquity of the device prosthesis. The curious intention of the game is to shift awareness from the virtual back to the physical and choreograph button controls that revert attention back to the physical keyboard. In this way, the site of experience shifts in and out of the screen.
Homo Ex-Machina – Now Playable’s timeline is current and ongoing. By exploring the limitations and heightened possibilities of the digital medium, as it develops exponentially, the work’s meaning is in constant flux with the technology, and therefore the expectations of the viewer, thereby changing the relational meaning of the work. The game invites you to be ready to “play” the exhibition.