There are many transhumanist artists and their works differ in extraordinary ways – from the fine arts to the digital arts, from visual interpretations of all possible worlds to illustrations of fearful futures, and to from the loveliest of poems and stories to the deepest depths of intellectual reason. Painting, sculpture, architecture, music, and filmmaking have a cross-cultural history that span centuries. The many styles and genres provide links to the newest uses of technology for gaming, immersivity, virtuality, avatar building and wearables. Yet, within these works varied depictions of visual subject matter and storyline narrative, the human is key.
Marie-Clare Treseder is a visual artist whose recent exhibition of self-portraits is a stunning array of photographic candor. But before we open up the short but focused conversation with Marie-Clare, I’d like to tell you a little about her. She is currently the Guest Curator at Crocker Art Museum in Northern California, as well as the curator of The Urban Hive. Her virtual work includes curating the Transhuman Art Virtual Gallery . Previously, she was the virtual curator for TEDxDelMar and the Media/Logistics and Media Production Supervisor and the official photographer at the Singularity University. Her photography has been published in Wired UK and The Independent. But Marie-Clare is more than a curator or artist, she is also a valued contributor to the larger community of transhumanism.
I asked Marie-Clare what she has been up to and she replied that she is working on an exhibition for the Crocker Art Museum “The Nature of William S. Rice: Arts and Crafts Painter and Printmaker”, debuting in the Fall 2014. More recently she has unveiled her own exhibition at The Urban Hive in Sacramento, CA “Portraits in Primary” . Some recent articles appear in San Francisco’s ARTslanT and Sacramento Press
Natasha: While your more recent curating have been your central focus, I’d like to start by asking about transhuman art and, in your view, how does the transhumanart.com gallery add to the creative insights of transhumanism?
Marie-Clare: There is an audible lack of artistic representation in techno-progressive movements like transhumanism. Like sparring sisters, the art scene has spent significant efforts returning this favor by continually presenting paintings as groundbreaking into the 2010′s. What I attempt to establish in Transhumanart.com is a vivid collection of artists most representative of this relatively recent phenomenon of technoprogressivism and place them within a curated context.
Natasha: Can you separate transhumanist art from dystopic art works that are focused on anti-humane sentiments?
Marie-Clare: Categories are a curator’s best friend. It can be tempting, however, to place too much power on them, especially in the history-obsessed field of art. An artist’s intent is often to evoke a novel idea or subconscious sensation. Working in the “inbetween” often requires a more lapse use of labels. Dystopic works and Transhuman works might take a diametrically opposed tilt to the same topic on paper, but in action are often two types of the same token.
What author do you find insightful about the scope of tech and art that reveals some hidden truth of obvious issues that you feel emotionally or intellectually aligned with?
Marie-Clare: The most relevant work to be written last year on the topic of tech and art was Claire Bishop’s piece “Digital Divide: Contemporary Art and New Media” (ArtForum). Bishop makes mention of the most active technoprogressive artists, including Cao Fei’s work in SecondLife and Cory Arcangel’s digital landscapes, (a la Super Mario Bros Clouds).
Natasha: Let’s take a look at a what Bishop wrote in ArtForum in September of 2012
“As someone who has been a practicing artist and deeply involved in media art culture, since early 90s, and also co-founder of Furtherfield , an on-line arts community which also has a gallery in the ‘Park’, in Finsbury Park, London – Where at each opening we get well over 350 visitors, and over a 100 a week at the space. I find it strange that those whom propose that they know about art and its culture, are still finding it difficult to take on this ‘very’ contemporary field. The audiences are there – we know this as ‘real’.
“Yes, there is a divide, and Media Art has its specialization, but just like all different forms of skilled practices – each field possess[es] its own, particular and variant levels of artistic and critical engagement. But still, there are many cross overs culturally. The divide is institutionally related, and I would say that many art magazines and galleries are behind the times. The public we engage with every day are more open and interested in discovering what this stuff is all about – they are more clued up. The art world is stuck in a rut, and it can only remain relevant to others, by expanding and letting in new ideas beyond its hermetically sealed silos.”
Natasha: In light of this proposed obfuscation of institutionalized art and the wider vision of transhumanist art and tech, what would you like to see happen in the arts and technology?
Marie-Clare: Modern times sees us espouse the aesthetic of “old media” (Sony Dreamcast, vinyl, VHS) and DIY behavior, in response to our increasing (and ironic) reliance on modern technology. This digital distance serves a deeply embedded contradiction in contemporary culture, namely that we dislike our own technological dependence. I would be gratified to see this internal dialogue played out in the public sphere, both the “white cube” and tech forums.
Natasha: The architectural metaphor of “white cube” is nicely wordsmithed, especially when considering that most museum and gallery rooms have right angles and white walls; but it does not seem to fit Frank Lloyd Wright’s influence on museums and the artist-loft environment or the currents of Frank Gehry and the fluidity of shape and form. There seems to be a strong mix of matter and metaphors, and regardless of the more fluid museum structures of Gehry, a portion of the mentality remains angular, sterile and formalized. So, it is apropos move out of the cube (box-like thinking) and ask why is it important to “steer the course” on transhuman creativity in your own works?
Marie-Clare: As I explore in my own series, “Portraits in Primary”, nostalgia for old media and the need for new media composes an intricate outlook on the impact of technology in our lives. Without sentience, technology remains a mere tool, it is our use or misuse of it which will serve as the proverbial Pandora’s box.
Natasha: Thank you for the clarity of your answers. I’d like to mention your current photographic series “Art and Afghanistan” as an artistic narrative of women in the Middle East. No words need to be said here, Marie-Clare, because your images leave us with a certain silence that rests with the beauty of your images.
“Marie-Clare accomplished this series by assembling images taken by her brother, a tribal liaison for the Marine Corps in Afghanistan.”