Agora digital is proud to present as our speakers Rebecca Van Beek a scenographer and artist, alongside Architects and co-founders of the Plot Art Gallery Alex Coetzee, Ashleigh Killa and Max Mellvill as part of our talk: “Immersive Atmospheres: A digital approach to spatial practice”

Adrian StClair  |  Ed YoungMi Lamine  | 7 July 2020

Rebecca van Beeck and The PLOT © Courtesy of the artist.

Being in conversation with artists who produce work digitally can be an enthralling experience. They are creatives who are able to conjure, shape and unveil digital space. They allow us through their perspective and craft to access different realities which lay mostly unexplored inside our tech. These are people who open windows into one of the great unknowns of our time, the Internet. With the same genius and passion, one might imagine Michael Angelo laying down beneath the roof of the Sixtine Chapel; today we see artists all over the world engaging digitally, each on the brink of a new masterpiece.

The Plot stands as an expanding space that immerses the viewer in artistic experiences through performances, video and VR. In the past year the gallerists have curated/hosted a series of works which contrast with the expectations of a digital experience a viewer might have. This juxtaposing nature extends outside the boundaries of our screens also evading time, the gallery can be seen in its present iteration as well as pasts episodes and seasons of the space. 

In the gallery the overarching themes of intimacy alongside what Alex puts as “home-made nature” help to conciliate the space in the viewer’s mind and experience art in homemade comfort. 

The creation of venues such as The Plot serves as a confirmation that a digital space project can succeed and become a platform for art. Whoever as a curator, when considering digital art and its exhibition one becomes aware of limitations in place for this to happen; mainly due to how the internet has developed as a platform. The Plot achieves involving the viewer into a digital curated space, they have hosted artworks that originate outside of Net’s context. Being able to import physical work into a digital space creates this sense of tangibility and ground Digital experiences. 

Rebecca van Beeck and The PLOT © Courtesy of the artist.

As we visit the plot today, season two of the space is underway. The latest iteration of the gallery is hosting a performance by Rebecca Van Beek, titled “Patterns of failure.”

The viewer is hyperlinked into a 360 video on YouTube, where Rebecca has recreated her personal workspace for the viewer to land on. The performance happens all around us; the digital nature of the experience allows for the space to be part of the artwork itself. Pieces of distorted furniture display music and comforting video while recordings of Rebecca in the midst of her creative process travel through the space. The possibility to relive the performance through the archive is a bonus for this kind of work and yet here is a given considering it is hosted online, the medium allows it to be accessible while still being a complex piece of artistic composition with more aspects and synthesis of subjects that it first appears as.

Traditionally the kind of works that “fit” online were fully digital pieces created in response to the Net’s appearance as a medium. Rought 80’s computer graphics would allow artworks to take form as Websites or computer applications limited by their hardware. The history of Digital Art is a tale that is still being written today as the cogs of technological advancement and the Internet keep turning. However, the last 30 years of this history have demonstrated that there is yet a great potential for the experience of art and beauty within digital frameworks, atmospheres are still taking shape.

Rebecca van Beeck and The PLOT © Courtesy of the artist.

In September of the year 2000 a paper published at the John F. Kennedy School of Government Harvard University titled “The Internet as Public Space: Concepts, Issues, and Implications in Public Policy” by Assistant professor J Camp and Information Infrastructure Research Fellow Y.T. Chien. 

This work would go on to underline and call for the promotion of this inherent nature for the Internet, they understood that the net should be navigated and understood in a more three dimensional and tangible model; having these standards in place would generate a more fulfilled understanding of how and what is hosted in the Net Space. It is best put by them as the paper opens:

“The Internet has long been identified as an information agora (Branscomb, 1994). The role of Internet as a public space for every citizen is being shaped by two seemingly contradictory characteristics: Internet is both ubiquitous and personal. Cyberspace, unlike the traditional media types and traditional public spaces in the physical world enables the citizenry to find new ways to interact economically, politically, and socially.”

A series of works by different authors have followed the development of the internet as space through the years. This history thankfully has shown that the path to optimal digital experience is still being paved by creators such as Rebecca or collectives like The Plot Gallery.

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