Virtual Immersion

Virtual Immersion
Ryan Trecartin, Lizzie Fitch/Ryan Trecartin, Priority Innfield (Pole), 2013, installation view, 2014 at Zabludowicz Collection, London. Photo: Stuart Whipps
View Gallery


This panel discussion examines the ways in which the theatrical and immersive staging of contemporary film and video work blurs the boundary between the virtual and physical world. Speakers include Lisa Åkervall (Bauhaus-University Weimar), Bridget Crone (Goldsmiths College), Nicolas de Oliveira (London Metropolitan University) and Nicholas Ridout (Queen Mary University of London).

Drinks and exhibition viewing from 6.30pm
Event starts at 7pm

Abstracts and Speakers Biographies

Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch's Networked Selves
Lisa Åkervall
My talk examines how the installation Priority Innfield by Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch puts forth critical post-cinematic aesthetics by incorporating tropes from reality TV and social networking sites. I show how Trecartin and Fitch use these figures to display shifting regimes of subjectivity, visuality, and self-expression typical of networked media cultures. This aesthetic strategy foregrounds the performance of what I term the networked self. I discuss an exemplification of this kind of self in the video CENTER JENNY, where protagonists perform various forms of hyperactivity and narcissism. In exploiting tropes from digital and social media Priority Innfield comprises at once an immanent critique, a thematization, and an exemplification of post-cinematic subjectivity.

Lisa Åkervall is a film and media theorist living in Berlin. She is currently working as a postdoctoral research fellow at the interdisciplinary research centre “Media and Mimesis" at the Department of Media at Bauhaus-University Weimar. Her publications in English include: Cinema, Affect and Vision (Rhizomes 16, Deleuze and Film, 2008) and Character-Witness, Actor-Medium (in Acting and Performance in Moving Image Culture: Bodies, Screens, and Renderings, Transcript, 2012). Her monograph Kinematographische Affekte: Die Transformation der Kinoerfahrung (Cinematic Affect: The Transformation of Cinematic Experience) is forthcoming from Fink Verlag in 2015.

Image-bodies, swamps and stages
Bridget Crone
In this talk, I will focus upon two aspects of Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin's work. Firstly, I will address the acceleration of flesh body into image – what I will term, image-bodies. Secondly, I will focus upon Fitch and Trecartin's use of staging or what they have termed, 'sculptural theaters'. These theatres or stages (and other structures such as bleachers) act to puncture and punctuate the seemingly constant and immaterial movement of bodies (or image-bodies), and in doing so they produce a new 'realism'. This is a 'real' that is based upon the conditions of encounter through the restructuring of space and time rather than a separation between 'real' and 'virtual' worlds.

Dr Bridget Crone is a curator, writer and lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths College, University of London. From 2006-11, Bridget was director of Media Art Bath – a publicly funded commissioning agency based in South West England, and has experience curating in a variety of contexts in the UK including at The Showroom, London (2003-6), The ICA, London (2012) and Arnolfini, Bristol (2010, 2012). She has also curated projects in Australia including The Ian Potter Museum, Melbourne (2005), and the large, multi-site commissioning and research framework The Cinemas Project (2014). Bridget has published extensively and recently edited The Sensible Stage: Staging and the Moving Image (Picture This / Cornerhouse, 2012).

Atmosphere, Embodiment and the Total Artwork
Nicolas de Oliveira
I will discuss Fitch and Trecartin's work in relation to the 'theatrical turn' and the ways in which atmosphere creates an embodied experience. With reference to filmic installations by artists such as Hans Op de Beeck and Patrick Jolley, I will explore the association between immersion and the total artwork.

Nicolas de Oliveira is a curator, writer and course leader for the MA Curating the Contemporary programme at London Metropolitan University and Whitechapel Gallery. He founded Unit 7 Gallery (1986-89) the Museum of Installation (1990-2003), and Notice Gallery (2005-8) and currently co-directs SE8 gallery. His books include Installation art, and Installation art in the New Millennium: Empire of the Senses, (Thames & Hudson, 1994 and 2003), two major international surveys of the practice. With his partner Nicola Oxley he has co-written a series of artist's books and monographs on Hans Op de Beeck, Stefan Brüggemann and Patrick Jolley. Their fiction work includes the novella Sand (Ludion, 2011) published as part of the book Hans Op de Beeck: Sea of Tranquillity, The Door Ajar which focused on Antonin Artaud and the monograph Patrick Jolley: All that Falls (Gandon Editions, 2012 and 2013).

Basic Jenny in Kentish Town
Nicholas Ridout
Walking home through my own neighbourhood after a couple of hours inside the world created by Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin I found myself marvelling at what, at first, I thought was the solidity of my familiar streets. It may have been simply the absence of visible derivatives. In my response to the work I want to think about some connections between theatre, the baroque and the 'animation' that underpins (or fails to underpin) the apparently solid ground of contemporary life: "I'm a property owner, I developed it, and I just found out they're going to take it away under martial law" (dialogue from the Center Jenny movie, 2014).

Nicholas Ridout is Professor of Theatre in the Department of Drama at Queen Mary University of London. He is the author of Stage Fright, Animals and Other Theatrical Problems (Cambridge, 2006), Theatre & Ethics (Palgrave, 2009) and Passionate Amateurs: Theatre, Communism and Love (Michigan, 2013) and co-editor, with Joe Kelleher, of Contemporary Theatres in Europe (Routledge, 2006). He is the co-author, with Claudia Castellucci, Romeo Castellucci, Chiara Guidi and Joe Kelleher of The Theatre of Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio (Routledge, 2007). He is currently working on the relations between bourgeois theatre, slavery and mass luxury consumption.