Conversations with Angels
The original name for the "Conversation with Angels" web project, "Garden of Id", referred to the psychoanalytical theory driven concept of 'ID', or the subconscious, according to Freudian interpretation the most suppressed part of subjectivity. "Conversation with Angels" continues to investigate the same metaphorical themes. The fascination of virtual spaces is that they are without limits: the programmer is the master of her/his world. But is it possible to control the social process in a virtual environment? Apart from investigating virtual (VRML) spaces, the main theme of our project is to examine how identities are built in the communicative space of virtual worlds. The user of a virtual world is generally understood to be free to define her/his own gender, sexual orientation, skin colour etc.
With "Conversations with Angels" we will investigate the extent of 'liberation' and possibly set some question marks. We are deliberately trying to dilute the barriers between physical and virtual realities: the user of the space cannot be quite sure if she/he is having a conversation with a robot chat programme or with a 'real' person. The scripts for the replies in the chat programmes are based on interviews done with real people, and also on urban and ethnic legends, and from research in books, newspapers, tv, etc. Using true and often painful real-life stories and combining symbolic meanings from various cultures we will create a multi-lateral and multi-dimensional environment, where references cannot be reduced back to the most evident interpretation. We intend to imply that even though the Internet and virtual reality are not autonomous virgin entities separate from the 'real' world and in a non-political vacuum, the possibilities for artistic creativity can be far-reaching.
From: Conversations with Angels, When Artists Use VRML
In a visual sense, Andy & Merja's work I think marks the starting point for artists like Cao Fei and her sweeping RMB City and Geoffrey Lillemon's darker The Nail Polish Inferno. Prior to Conversations with Angels, virtual art tended to be either very abstract or realistic in design.
My own experience with it was also a journey. This work is comic and disjointed. You start in a WWI airplane and are apparently shot down by the Red Baron. Next you traverse a space with multi-breasted characters and a tutu-wearing basketball player. At first, I thought the work was fun but juvenile.
I was wrong...and its not just because of their explanation above.
While the work is what it is (a fun project with deep questions on virtual design)... its also a rebellion against the norms of Scandinavian design. Clean lines, polished metal, and geometrics of white surfaces and light wood are nowhere to be found. This then still ties it to their own words, this work truly is a rebellion against the surface layers of reality, a comic assault on the norms and conventions that we see as truths, but are really manufactured cultural fictions.