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Audience Response Systems

2014. Plates from artist book of multiples, 42 x 29 cm each, risograph printing, edition of 100 copies, includes introductory text by the artist.

A recent piece in the news recounts a psychology study investigating the treatment of post-traumatic stress in virtual reality, through the reconstruction of the traumatic events that gave originated it. In this study, patients are transported back to the scene of the crime, which took place in an exhibition of contemporary art, finding a moral dilemma in the face of their intervention in the shootout that occurs. The scientific study then assesses the feelings of guilt in individuals belonging to two test groups, and one group is allowed to improve their performance—as victims, that is. The origin of the shooting remains unclear and fairly unexplained. However, at the institution, one can imagine, gun ownership is allowed: for about a year, a London museum requested a license to possess a weapon in order to integrate in its collection the first ABS plastic 3-D printed gun, fabricated domestically.

In South Korea one can watch baseball games from home, reserving one of several robots in the stadium stands. The robots' faces are screens that relay the audience's reactions, while fans remain well in contact with the players without the need to travel. Simultaneously, celebrities and companies in the West pay workers in developing countries to raise a few thousand likes on their Facebook pages, while, as speculatively and unregulated as before, sweatshop slave labor is transfered from the material economy to the immaterial economy.

Thinking about these events and artifacts through relationships of cause and effect is practically impossible, for the plot that originates them is structural, as is our current crisis, which can no longer be simply regarded as the 2008 crisis. A hypothetical zoom out would reveal how these partial images of working conditions and spectatorship are no longer subjected to the depth of field of the Renaissance; the illusion of depth created by it is insufficient to recount the world. Images shift between representation and simulation and it is unclear how layers and sociality have merged within them.

Given this, who assures us that exhibition spaces must obey the law of gravity? That the treatment of trauma in a gallery space is nothing more than a palliative for the end of the middle class in the West? And will universal basic income, which is a proposal for every citizen to earn a favorable pension regardless of employment, create a true leisure class or a new generation of combative workers? Or is it rather the last pretense of the Right to dismantle and privatize health and education systems? Cut and paste.