Telematic presents: Eternal Boy Playground
December 15th – February 2nd, 2019
Opening Reception: Saturday, December 15th, 6–9pm
Eternal Boy Playground is a show of new experimental media by Anxious to Make – the artist collective, comprised of Liat Berdugo (Oakland) and Emily Martinez (Los Angeles) – that playfully explores the cultural tropes surrounding crypto-currencies, like Bitcoin. Focusing, specifically, on the migration of Bitcoin “miners” to Puerto-Rico, following the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2016, the show examines the utopian ideal of the “crypto-paradise” that these self-proclaimed “Puertopians” aim to realize. (“Puertopia” means “eternal boy playground” in Latin). What, the artists ask, does it mean to re-colonize Puerto Rico in the image of a techno-utopian fantasy?
Eternal’s aesthetics draw upon colonial imagery and Western perceptions of tropical landscapes as sites of luxurious indulgence. The installation over-saturates the gallery with custom wallpapering and fabrics, such as plush beach towels and scarves, printed with an original “crypto-tropical” pattern. It features a new, experimentally designed Bitcoin ATM, which prints “crypto-prophecies,” as if it were a fortune telling machine. A large-scale video projection explores the influx of digital wealth into disaster-strewn areas with text drawn from online, comment-threads, arguing whether crypto-investments in Puerto Rico are exploitative or altruistic, colonial or utopian. And gallery visitors are invited to apply temporary tattoos to their skin, depicting how crypto-currency works, what a block-chain is, and who benefits from this new technological economy. The tattoo images were commissioned, by the artists, from workers on the crowdsourcing website Mechanical Turk and have been gathered into a new book for the exhibition.
As a whole, the works in this show consider the intersections of colonialism, technology, wealth, culture, race, economics, altruism, and exploitation, through the lens of neo-liberal crypto-utopian ideologies.
Telematic is a black-box gallery, which exhibits and supports time-based arts with particular attention to the intersection of art and moving image technologies.