Āhua Exhibition 2 – ‘An Evolution Of Identity | Navigating our Space’

The AmBassadors Boosted

If there is one thing that the pandemic has solidified for me is that the importance of the digital space is valid and crucial. The 16:9 window was where I could communicate with family & friends and also escape the physical walls of my house. During that period, I found that the gap between my online self and “real” self got smaller and smaller. With Hans Holbein The Younger’s painting; ‘The Ambassadors’ as an inspiration, The AmBassadors Boosted’ re-imagines the Renaissance painting as the reconciliation of the once two different identities of my digital self and my organic self. “The vertical symmetry of Dinteville’s and de Selve’s depiction suggests the classical concept of the friend as the second self” (Mark Calderwood; The Holbein Codes – An Analysis of Hans Holbein’s The Ambassadors, 2005).

Much like the shelf and the items in the original painting, these parergon invite further inspection beyond conventional symbolism. What do they mean to both the subjects? How does it link the subjects? How does it contextualise each and both subjects? Upon closer inspection, some of the jpegs have been extruded as a 3D object. The idea of fractional space – “a transitional space that allows people to enter and exit images, to freeze and then leave this state again and go somewhere else or go missing (Hito Steyerl; Ripping Reality: Blind Spots and Wrecked Data in 3D, 2017)” alludes to the time spent in limbo since the pandemic. Stuck between 2D and 3D, this 2.5 sense of being was created – “modifying the folds of the surface means interfering with these forces and recomposing them differently” (Hito Steyerl, 2017). These items were instrumental for me coming to terms with a lot of things like grief, anger, loss, confusion, acceptance, reprioritisation, boundaries and growth.

However despite the connectivity that these online spaces provide, we must keep in mind that they are not entirely beneficial and can cause us harm (Matthew Smith; Big Data Privacy Issues In Public Social Media, 2012). Corporations and entities that are behind these ‘public platforms’ control data that we (are tricked to) willingly give away. The reliance of interpersonal interaction on social media that stemmed from the pandemic highlights what is missing – a safe space where we can have more autonomy over our data and privacy.

“What the pandemic could theoretically do is to usher in a new age of vernacular presence. Which means that there would be a lot of more presence locally of people meeting there to ideally decide about local concerns which are also a bit more autonomous” (Hito Steyerl; UVP in Conversation: Hito Steyerl, 2021). Focusing on grounding oneself and being connected with their immediate community is a crucial step to evolving one’s identity.

Pantograph Punch’s Write-Up of the Āhua Exhibition

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