It is the year 3000. The nation state has collapsed, and viral air pollution limits habitable space and physical contact. Following a year-long worldwide blackout resulting from airpocalypse induced cyber warfare in 2024, all digitized information has been lost, and most print materials have been used for fuel. Humans seek refuge indoors, physically isolated but connected via the new cyberworld. Touch is forbidden, and intimacy is only encouraged through simulated experiences in the cyberworld.
The first solo exhibition by Nancy Lee 李南屏 and Kiran Bhumber ਕਿਰਨਦੀਪ ਕੌਰ ਭੰਬਰ, UNION is a speculative sci-fi narrative about two beings discovering their ancestral memories through the longing for touch and the rituals practiced in their post-apocalyptic wedding ceremony. Featuring a brand new body of works, UNION is an immersive trans-media gallery experience that simultaneously unravels and reconstitutes cultural memory through the sacred ritual of spiritual union and physical intimacy. Working through the artists’ diasporic identities, the exhibition will investigate how immersive technologies can transform ritualistic performances into living cultural memories.
Since 2014, Lee and Bhumber have been working collaboratively to create technologically-mediated experiences which activate social interaction and reflect our individual and collective relationships with emerging technologies. Using XR, performance, sculpture, multi-channel sound and video installation, the exhibition extends their interrogation of the relationships between culture, presence and choreography in Telepresence (2018), as well as their critical reflections on ethics and vulnerability in the creation and consumption of immersive content via mediated technologies in Tidal Traces (2017). Drawing on parallels between our world and the speculative future, UNION is a critique of surveillance capitalism, but also a gesture towards hope through the generative possibilities of intimacy, performativity, and presence.
UNION is co-presented by Cinevolution Media Arts Society and Richmond Art Gallery.
Union is on view at the Richmond Art Gallery (7700 Minoru Gate, Richmond BC) from April 24 through to June 5, 2021. For visitor information, visit the Richmond Art Gallery website at richmondartgallery.org/union. For more information about the project, visit union.land.