Firstly, you are invited to analyse your own mental stability during life in the information age, through the film Consumed (2011) where today’s first world citizens are condemned as “ardent narcissists” with a “psychotic illness” provoked by contemporary advertisers. The sound track from The Financial Crisis (2009) overpowers the space, a hypnotic voice gently urging you to plant yourself into the situation of those who suffer personal and material repercussions post the 2008 financial recession. This allows you to internally mirror the sensation of inevitable loss as a symptom of our Icarian society – loss of both the tangible and the intangible, such as friendships, relationships and careers.
Multisensory installations transport you away from your material surroundings just as digital media is capable of consuming you, absenting you friends and loved ones while you are mentally engaged by a screen. The ironically-named White Matter (2015) juxtaposes ancient physical escapism with modern day digital escapism. The black circular space presents you with a group of obsidian stones: part of an ancient custom of early civilisations who believed they could reach other physical realms. The ceiling plays host to a montage of digital images reminiscent of 90s video games. This encourages us to reflect on how we can be spirited away when devoured by digital media and how our sense of self can be optimised when entering this alternative portal.
You lose yourself entirely in the Labyrinth Psychotica (2013), a fully immersive installation where, following the maze of fabric, you become completely disorientated in the process. Unable to find your way out, you are forced to confront the edges of your sanity while LED displays flash before you, provoking migraine-like visual disturbance and leaving you temporarily blind. You doubt the evidence of your eyes on seeing another light display momentarily accuse you of being a “bitch”, causing wry amusement combined with paranoia at this sensory assault.
Fortunately, after such an arduous mental trip, the exhibition culminates in a showcase of collaborative community projects which shine a light on technology being used to impact positively on our mental wellbeing. In Hand (2014) is a mobile application which extends the developmental process to local young people tasked with researching, branding and marketing the product: an aid young people can take advantage of in managing their feelings and black moods.
Group Therapy is not merely a digital art exhibition: it is a relevant rollercoaster of experiences bringing home the role of art and design in promoting self-examination and directing social change. It invites you to take time out of your day to consider the complexities of modern day living in the information age, how the digital world can impact on our relationships positively and negatively and ways we can improve mental distress through a combination of collaboration and technological endeavour.
This is an extract from a feature by Kirsten Little. Read the full article here on digicult.it