1883 sat down for a chat with London-based artist Kitty Clark to find out more about HUMANS UNITE, an exhibition addressing anxiety and futile desires from a transhumanist perspective.
Curated by Valentina Fois and held at Public Exhibitions, the show includes a severed animatronic hand of a silicone love doll incessantly tapping one finger, and a stomach breathing peacefully in spite of the screws that hold it down; on display is also Wheatfield (FEEL KNOW), a 3D virtual environment simulated in real time that questions the possibility that an artificial environment may be able to increase individual consciousness and well-being.
Hi Kitty, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
I am an artist based in London, typically working between sculpture and digitally based artworks.
Can you tell us about your show, HUMANS UNITE, at Public Exhibitions? How did it come together?
Public Exhibitions is a new project space based in East London - HUMANS UNITE is the inaugural show there, and was curated by Valentina Fois, who I have worked previously with for La Scatola Gallery’s #Post 2 digital residency. Most of the works in the show cross between digital and physical media – starting out in a digital form in CAD software on the computer, then printed, cut, and engraved by machines to reach their final physical form, however there are many places where I wanted a more human presence to be felt – the silicone pieces are direct copies from my own body, a process that required a fairly intimate and fragile process of mould-making and casting by hand. In one of the 2D pieces, a piece of shattered acrylic has been attempted to be fixed with rough lumps of clay instead of the pristine 3D printed hardware pieces that are present in the rest of the show, in a sort of primal gesture of desperation.
What is the inspiration behind the works in the exhibition?
Running throughout the show there is an esoteric and fragmented narrative, hinted at by a timeline etched onto a series of vents that appear on the gallery walls and the sculptures themselves. Seemingly set in the near-future, they reveal in stages the aftermath of an unknown occurrence or event that ultimately changes society as we know it, moving through stages of repercussion typically associated with landmark technological breakthroughs. There is also a large projected piece, which is actually running directly from a computer program, simulating a wheatfield gently blowing in the wind. Though initially it appears quite tranquil, the obvious artificiality of the sky and the wheat stalks themselves bring an unsettling tension which serves as a backdrop for the rest of the show.
HUMAN UNITE addresses some pressing issues of our time, that is, futile desires and anxiety, and it does so from an unusual perspective, that of transhumanism; why in particular did you decide to look at these subjects in this manner?
One of the ways I have understood the show, and perhaps many of my recent works, is as a series of attempted coping mechanisms. My interest in transhumanism is one of many attempts to rationalise universal human desires (for power, acceptance, immortality, peace) and seek respite from equally natural human emotional states (fear, anxiety, apathy, dread). The title of the show is an imagined idealistic "call-to-arms" to instigate this endeavour, together.
And where does your interest in this movement stem from?
I have always been fascinated by the unbounded idealism of communities that seek to live in new and better ways. Early interests in the countercultural movements of the 1960s, particularly those involved in the Whole Earth Catalog and its surrounding publications, led me to become attracted to the idea of techno-utopianism. For me it is part fantasy, part earnest desire that led me to learn more about the singularity movement as a progressive step in both my personal and creative life.
Digital technology plays an important role in your work; how, in your view, is the digital medium impacting the art world?
It is an exciting time to be working with digital media as so many of the tools and learning sources needed (for me for example 3D modelling, game design, programming and CAD) are freely available online through networks of open source software creators and communities sharing knowledge. As technology continues to be a ubiquitous part of our everyday life it is important that the potential it holds for human development remains inclusive and relevant to everyone.
Finally, what does the future hold for you?
I am taking part in a group show called Info-Pura opening on the 3rd of June, at The Residence Gallery, London, where I will be showing a new Virtual Reality piece, alongside new sculptural works.
HUMANS UNITE will be running until 3rd June at Public Exhibitions, Black Gates, Hassard Street, London E2 7RD
Words by Jacopo Nuvolari @jacopo982