Meta.Morf 2024 – [up]Loaded Bodies
Trondheim international biennale for art and technology
Norway – The Netherlands / April – October, 2024
Meta.Morf 2024 – [up]Loaded Bodies explores the physical and technological body caught between virtual ecstasy and digital obesity, and the tension that arises within the liminal space of virtual and physical reality.
Time and again, we have been attracted by grand narratives of digital escape. The decades-old travel brochure advertises a one-way ticket to a limitless experience inside your perfect avatar body. It sells a utopian dream of a never-ending party on the other side of the screen. Yet, while the mind indulges in spectacular virtual tourism, the body is put into the bargain.
While we are eager to board the shiny flight toward the digital world of ecstatic meta-fun, we are still stuck in the departure hall. In this liminal space, our bodies are repeatedly squeezed through security checks and buying overpriced data snacks. Once on board, we fasten our digital extensions to the Internet of Bodies and find ourselves strapped between the physical and the virtual world, remotely controlled and monitored. Loaded with digital anticipations, our disengagement with the physical world is growing. Yet to no avail. The physical reality never truly disappears.
All digitally tangled bodies —human and non-human– endure extreme tension. While technology blurs the horizon between the virtual and the real, the bodies stick with their materiality. Even entities such as the Internet, AI, and the gadgets enabling our virtual voyage have their physical footprint. Everyone has to carry their own oversized luggage.
On- or offline, the turbulent digital itinerary continues to affect bodies and shape identities. Whether a human longing for a digital beach or an AI looking for a foothold in physical reality, this is no holiday. This is life as we know it in the 21st century.
Zane Cerpina / Espen Gangvik, 2023