For quite sometime contemporary artists have been exploring the idea of surface in their works, in particular the penetration of the surface; one sees it in the proliferation of photographs and paintings and videos of diving, swimming, underwater shots,. The water is a metaphor for media of course and the surface tension a metaphor for borders, boundaries, walls. The surface is one big Do Not Trespass sign yet water is also a surface which reflects back.
All those handheld devices, the camera/phone is also a reflective surface and one can see its effects in the mirroring of our individual lives, the hastag selfie! We have all been staring at the surface but the artist asked for more asked the idea of surface. Instead of looking at the surface the artist has been looking through the surface . . like Alice through the looking glass.
And how would the art effect the world at large, what would become manifest because of the artist’s searching?
The effects of media are difficult to predict yes? - No. The effect comes first, one then seeks the cause.
The Pokemon Go app is such an effect. It is phenomenally popular. Shares in Nintendo rose 25%; players are touting the positive physical side, one person told CBC they walked 26 km searching for a Pokémon; others have been injured while playing, stumbling into traffic, falling off skateboards; a dead body was discovered; people have been mugged by false signals sent out about elusive Pokémon and users have outnumbered Twitter and Tindr at times.
To interact with the Nintendo game is to turn the phone into a looking glass. One sees the Pokémon through it. Pokémon are on the other side of the glass, virtually in the real world, spotted only via the device’s augmented sight, spotted only by seeing through the surface.
The greater effect of the artists’ search far beyond a single game app is the dismissal of the Icon. A singular image will no longer suffice for a generation used to seeing through something. One can call it transparency but it is not just looking though, it is also importantly passing through. Transparency is not a visual entity but a physical one and you can go ask Alice what she found on the other side of the looking glass when she passed through.