Belgian-American artist Cécile B. Evans is interested in the space between the rational and the emotional, investigating the differences between the ways we think about a subject and how we feel about it. Evans’s practice engages with installation, video and the digital realm, existing where the online world and physical reality intersect and exploring the impact that rapidly developing technologies have on the human condition. Through the creation of fictional, simulated characters that express genuine feelings and authentic human sentiments, Evans examines the value contemporary society places on emotion and the ways we are adapting to live in both digital and physical contexts within the same reality.
At the Embassy of the Real, Evans presents Preamble to a Prequel (of sorts), 2016, and Hyperlinks Or It Didn’t Happen, 2014, two video-based works that investigate the ways in which recent developments in technology are affecting our everyday lives. Utilising the feeling of being bodiless, and experimenting with how we watch moving images, Preamble to a Prequel (of sorts) is a site-specific experience created for the 20th Biennale of Sydney. Inspired by the pervasiveness
of hand-held devices and employing a user-friendly version of a video headset, Evans investigates the manner in which the use of once-simple tools has evolved, and how the development of technology has altered human behaviour. Acknowledging a potentially natural desire to inhabit multiple realities at the same time, Preamble to a Prequel invites the viewer to experience a new kind of autonomy, moving through the physical space of Cockatoo Island’s Dogleg Tunnel while simultaneously watching a surreally liminal audio-visual environment that situates them in a digital space.
Upon reaching their destination visitors return to the real, where they encounter Hyperlinks Or It Didn’t Happen, a film narrated by a CGI copy of an American actor who has recently passed. The narrator, keenly aware of his status as a facsimile, introduces a cast of immaterial digital beings who, like most of us, are searching for meaning in the worlds they inhabit. Through the characters, Evans raises questions about the nature of information in the digital realm; asking us to consider the physical structures that support the data we put out into the world and query the eventual fate of our online identities after we are gone. Situated in the indefinable space where the digital and physical overlap, Evans’s work addresses the different ways we experience reality in a data-saturated world. Everything within Hyperlinks is drawn from another resource; recycled, repackaged and repeated anew. As the digital copy of the actor who has recently passed tells us, ‘Most of you may know that everything you have just seen has already happened. Our end is just your old beginning.’
The artist’s solo exhibitions include ‘Cécile B. Evans’, Kunstverein Bielefeld (2015); ‘Cécile B. Evans’, Frieze Art Fair, Barbara Seiler Zürich and New York (2014); ‘Hyperlinks’, Seventeen Gallery, London (2014); ‘AGNES’, Serpentine Galleries (commission), London (2014); and ‘The Brightness’, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2013). Selected group exhibitions include ‘CO-WORKERS – Network as Artist’, Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris (2015); ‘Software, Hard Problem’, Cubitt Gallery, London (2015); ‘Projections’, 53rd New York Film Festival (2015); ‘Inhuman’, Fridericianum, Kassel (2015); and ‘Future Generation Art Prize’, Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev (2014).