RVW | CROWDSOURCING REVENGE (justified by comments)
An interesting insight into the darker side of our participation in online culture.
(justified by comments)
By Alyssa Kail, MFA AC+D 14
In CROWDSOURCING REVENGE (justified by comments), Lauren Seiffert, MFA VS ’14 explores the cultural and physical systems that prescribe how humans interact. Seiffert’s abstract figures are visually Giacometti-like, though the scale has been bumped up to slightly taller than human, adding to the ominous feeling of impending violence. The gestural figures are arranged and frozen in a moment just before blood is shed. In the center of four upright “bodies” with arms activated in bent aggression, is a buckled and cowering shape. Dark shadows cast in the stark white space create the illusion of more figures emerging, as the crowd grows larger.
The title of the show is in response to the online phenomena of crowdsourcing, particularly to the “justice” and revenge sought out in social media after events such as the recent Boston Bombing. The anonymity of these abstract sculptural figures perhaps points to the anonymity of the real people posting online, shielded behind the safety of their computer screens in the comfort of their homes. Seiffert’s figures are sketches of the people we can’t fully see but can only glimpse through their actions or the few words they post online.
At first, there seems to be a material disconnect between the screen culture technology referenced in the title and the work in the exhibition. But, we are not tasked to see the digital nature of the forum, just the avenging actions of the reacting crowds. Seiffert’s material choices are perhaps a nod to the remnants of the real world sites of such devastating events as the Boston Bombing: steel to represent the broken buildings, and fiber to represent the torn clothing of the victims. The dichotomy between the materials successfully creates visual interest and tension — soft and hard, cold and warm, domestic and industrial, male and female. Though the mediocre and unrefined craftsmanship may have been a conscious and intentional aesthetic choice, the poor welds and haphazardly knotted fibers could lead some viewers to unintentionally dismiss the work without proper introspection. It’s a barrier some may find difficult to cross.
Previously unmentioned is the one figure in this grouping that is turned away from the crowd, and consequently, the first figure we encounter as we enter the space. Is it attempting to leave the room or merely turning away from the mob? This figure seems to represent the opposing voice to the crowd and acknowledges the freedom of choice essential to our humanity.
All in all, this show is an interesting insight into the darker side of our participation in online culture, the ease with which groups of all types and interests can gather online, and the hyperbolic escalation that can occur through comment threads in anonymous spaces.