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Radical Housing and Socially-Engaged Art

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There is a curious dynamic of presence and absence that can be observed in our lives in the context of today’s techno-political age. On one level, we remain unaware of material things around us as they remain unregistered to our bodily senses. For example, carbon dioxide, a material that is intimately linked to the presence of life on earth, remains insensible to us despite its extremely personal relationship to our bodies. Instead, the scientific-industrial apparatus of a carbon dioxide sensor and its supporting network of data transmission and reception technologies are deployed to quantitatively measure the amount of carbon dioxide in air and translate it into a readable, categorizable statistic. The viewer is cast into the position of an impartial witness when confronted by this image of a data representation announcing itself as fact.

On another level, certain images have the incredible power to make their presence felt by activating sites of sensation within the viewer. A relationship is established between the image and the viewer that lies beyond the representational logic that the image is embodied with. It is what allows us to be empathetic to images of violence while at the same time remaining insensitive to the violence of daily life. In that sense, the role of the viewer shifts from the witness to the voyeur, by becoming complicit to the image without being inside of what it depicts. It is the boundary between these two modes of viewing that we are interested in. Our efforts in trying to reconcile between them has led us to intervene within the technologies of both.

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