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Sian Fan is an artist based in the UK who works across sculpture, performance, film and animation to consider the ways in which virtual and image technologies affect our physical experiences.

Deity is a digital performance that combines live motion capture with physical movement. The work invites you to interact with a virtual avatar of the artist which has been digitally enhanced using a filter app. The avatar is dressed in attire inspired by fantasy video game characters. Imagined as a shrine to the digital self, the installation replicates the multi-angle surround of a dressing table mirror, each screen gripped by tentacles.

The screens replicate the dark, reflective surface that is left when our phones or tablets aren’t activated. Reacting to your movements via an interactive motion-capture camera, the avatar submerges and emerges from the inky liquid that is the ‘black mirror’ of the screens. This repetitive engulfing of the body explores our deep connections to our virtual selves, whilst referencing obsidian mirrors, often used in shamanism to create portals into other dimensions. The mirror acts as a space for ritual and spirituality, evoking a simultaneous moment of worship and observation of our digital reflection.

The digital avatar attempts to keep up with the complex movements of its human audience but its lack of precision demonstrates the fragmented relationship between the digital and the physical. The work pulls this relationship apart to expose the disconnection between the two realities.

Installation environment with interactive motion-capture camera, multi-channel video, sound, sculpture

Audio by Ben Dixon. Commissioned by FACT. Supported with funds from Arts Council England and Liverpool City Council.