[Dis]connection: Experiential Art Installation

Experiential Art Installation Presented at Currents New Media

During the summer of 2017, Professor Megan Jacobs, UNM Honors College student Madelyn Lesnewich, and Professor Anna Westfall created an experiential art installation for the Currents New Media Festival, a preeminent venue for artists working in new media which is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).  The installation, [Dis]connection, creates an experiential space in which to contemplate what it means to feel connected and whole. The work questions the role that technology and our fast-paced lives may play in producing feelings that are at odds with our human need to feel connected and seen.  

Pictured Clockwise from right: Honors student Madelyn Lesnewich on a cherry picker during the week long installation of [Dis]connection and other photos from the art installation.

The installation takes a metaphoric approach by representing the complexities of these competing experiences by incorporating a range of media.  [Dis]connection is filled with handmade mulberry paper and illuminated from behind, which creates a soft glow.  The paper has been laser cut with IP addresses, each one marking a unique location.  Video projections of two figures pulling a long cord through a desolate landscape are projected side by side.  On the other set of walls, sculptural wax arms are mounted opposite one another. The arms, which are illuminated from inside, reach for one another.  Audio near each arm plays recordings of heartbeats.  Ultimately, the audio seeks to illustrate moments of connection with another human being and even oneself.  The wax arms are ensnared in electronic cords leading to a large sculpture in the center of the space, comprised of an undulating gnarled mass of cords. Hidden speakers nested inside the mass of cords play a range of ambient technological recordings—the hum of a computer, a phone receiving a text message, the drone of a television.

[Dis]connection from Megan on Vimeo.

The components of the installation seek to push and pull the viewer between their desire for connection and the obstacles that keep one from it.  Through the creation of this work, the artists explored the benefits and challenges of living in a technological world, by working through technology to communicate remotely as Professor Jacobs and Madelyn are based in New Mexico and Professor Westfall in Virginia.  The work was fabricated, shared, and edited through the use of various technologies.  Only when the various components were created, did the collaborators share and combine the work in person to create the installation.