When I first saw Assimilation and The New Religion I thought they were striking works. Both were images of the cross – an inescapable thought provoking symbol that incites a reaction within me. To view Assimilation it was necessary to look up, as if you were in a church at the foot of an icon. I immediately recognised the communion wafers and was fascinated to see there was a computer chip stuck to the wafer at the centre of each cross.
Immediately all of my associations with eating the wafer at communion came to mind. Take a communion wafer within a protestant church and you are saying that you belong, you are part of community and you accept the doctrine of the church. Ingest it and you are consuming the body of Christ and want Christ within you. A communion wafer with a chip embedded adds new dimensions. If you swallow it are you allowing yourself to be indoctrinated by the church? On swallowing it would the church be able to programme you and control your mind and body?
Outside of the connotations of the church, Assimilation made me think about the way we all swallow ‘new technology’, without thinking. New technology is ‘the religion’ of the 21st century. It infiltrates our lives and there is no escape. We constantly consume it and spend hours communing with it. Our phones, ipads and computers have become the demi gods we can’t live without, while the large technology companies such as Apple and Google become ‘the religious’ organisations that control our lives as the Catholic and Protestant Churches did for centuries.
The New Religion
This leads me onto Arthur’s second piece, The New Religion. It was positioned at the end of a corridor in the gallery space, like an icon. Having to walk towards the work gave the piece gravitas. To engage with the work you were forced to look up.
To be able to read the QR codes that formed the cross you had to interact with the work using your phone. Put your phone up against the QR codes and short videos about new technology as ‘the new religion’ are revealed to you. This made me think about the boundaries of new technology. Are there no limits for how it infiltrates into our lives? Wearable technology, that can be placed under our skin, is just around the corner.
The following is the link to the film, Chaplin’s Phuturistic Vision, from the QR code in the middle of the cross https://vimeo.com/146522368