Miguel Lorenzo Uy presents a new body of work in his fourth solo exhibition. Uy’s current interest stems from speculations on how technological advancements have proven to radically alter the meaning of our memory and identity. Consequently, political and economic affairs become entangled to technology’s development as well. With an imminent catastrophe, it becomes necessary to look from another perspective of how one lives within the system today. Political, historical, and even scientific beliefs have become more than ever malleable, politicized, and polarized. Out-of-body simulations acts as a lens; a metaphysical experience; a culmination of these assumptions.
Working within the current situation of physical isolation and existential dread, it is inevitable to witness different events on-screen. Humanity is in the midst of global crises: climate change, post-truth politics, and the coronavirus pandemic. These have resulted in a spring of corrections, reforms, and revolutions in different parts of the globe and different factions of life and society— with outcomes resulting in either sustained peace or increased violence. Some have been repressed, others successful, and a number has blown out of proportion. As many suffer the consequences these events entail, some benefit from all the chaos and oppression as well.
As society transitions into a probable dystopia, Uy presents a video sculpture— one iteration of this project. Astral Prison (2021) embodies a society that has consented to plunder and pillage, deception and tyranny. All that is left is a masqueraded life simulated as digital, posing as authentic and rendering everyone blind from reality. Imposed by the few people in power, the Astral Prison encompasses the physical, digital, and even the spiritual. It manifests itself as a prison without walls; its warden ruthless and manipulative, the shackles and chains invisible, and the sentence inherited generation after generation. It is our burden and our crime; the curse of being born, struggling and consuming to survive, that we are given a life sentence. It is something that cannot easily be perceived yet it is so evident; one that makes us believe that we are truly free.
notes on the work Astral Prison:
Astral Prison (2021) is a video sculpture, with the content presented as moving image. Three figures are trapped within a dark, muted plane do nothing but stand and look around. After moments of observing, it becomes evident that they cannot perceive each other. They also pass through each others’ bodies like ghosts. I’ve chosen to present it through an OLED display as to emphasize the perfect black thanks to its individually lighting pixels, only illuminating the details of the bodies of the figures that touch the faint light. The video simulates a reflection of a screen that’s turned off, a reflection of society that’s so dependent on technology and media. A society that has consented to plunder and pillage, deception and tyranny.
This thought has evolved through the long lockdowns brought by the global pandemic: what if the technologies we are so dependent on is suddenly banished in our lives— like a sudden blackout? I’ve been interested with how power relations have become intertwined with technology and media and consequently how media and technology has changed the way we think and behave. Those who wield media have all the power to control. Those who hold big data have the power to command. With media outlets from news, to advertising, to social media, accelerated with the transition to the digital, it has trapped society into a prison— is it then a prison to rehabilitate? to condition our minds? Or to perhaps enslave?
The Astral Prison encompasses the physical, digital, even the spiritual, the moral, and the political. It manifests itself as a prison without walls; its warden ruthless and manipulative, the shackles and chains invisible, and the sentence inherited generation after generation. It is our burden and our crime; the curse of being born, struggling and consuming to survive, that we are given a life sentence. It is something that cannot easily be perceived yet it is so evident; one that makes us believe that we are truly free.