Optic
Marcus WhaleCraig Stubbs-Race

Marcus Whale: I’m part of the last generation for whom communicating on the internet was a new, exciting and mysterious thing. For me, instant messaging applications were the arena for some of the most significant moments of my life. The popularity of MSN Messenger, for instance, fits exactly with the period of my adolescence. For better or for worse, my development as a person is deeply tied to the specific conditions of the internet before social media as we know it dominated how we communicate, in which presenting yourself as anonymous or as an avatar was commonplace, where everyone could be anyone. There are two sides to this condition – I’m someone who, like many people my age, were interacting with adults or catfishes in potentially dangerous ways. In this work, however, I’m more interested in pulling out the romance of the 2000s internet, in an effort to evoke the intense sensuality of my teenage experience. Drawing from my many, many experiences of longing after unknowable people and things, Optic considers desire as a generative force that pushes beyond the mundane and into the realm of the fantastical.

Craig Stubbs-Race: The piece is purely a visual response to the poem. The frame sits at the appropriate 5:3 ratio, the common monitor screen used during the time of the artists’ exposure to online chat forums and worlds. Within this box we witness a soul travel through cyberspace, taking on the form of what we can perceive as data flowing through the system. Fibre optic cables come to mind. These sparks travel a lonely dark highway seeking input and information. From here we discover what the soul wants. Sex as a raw image. Many other souls drool and slide over the bodies of the web, slowly drifting over every contour and line, taking in and absorbing the visual muscle. The ‘views’ and clicks are adding up, overwhelming the content to the point where it is hardly visible. Only soul. Upon our trip into cyberspace, we encounter another being, although there is no body to go with it, only their words and presence. Together they travel the internet highway together, seeking content. The introduction of a device, a new eye, takes the web by storm. No longer is content anonymous or needed. All our being and presence can perform for the webcam. The device is desire. Our souls celebrate.

Optic is curated by 4A’s Curatorial Assistant for 2021, Marco Rinaldi, as part of 4A’s Digital Curatorship. The 4A Curatorial Assistant Program is supported by the Sally Breen Family Foundation.

Published 05 February 2021.