Artist in Residence
Feb 2021 - Apr 2021
During this time of physical distancing the majority of my social interactions have been mediated through digital interfaces. This felt like a propelled push towards a perceived and perhaps inevitable future of the of smart home, smart office and life on the cloud. While it was novel to try new digital versions of formerly physical activities (watching movies with friends, game nights, work meetings, etc); I realized that parts of my life had already been mediated through digital interactions and the communities that form within it.
Grindr, launched in 2009, was one of the first online dating/hook up apps available on smartphones. It connects you with users in your vicinity, and during the pandemic added features to curb physical meet up and encourage digital interaction. Similarly, many queer spaces and venues that have to be closed have moved onto digital platforms to deliver their events. In the past few months I’ve “attended” life drawing sessions, drag performances, art openings, lectures, and dance parties all over the world accessed through some kind of video conference service.
While using the internet to connect with subcultures isn’t necessarily new (chat rooms and message boards have served that purpose for a long time), the ease of access to smartphones and video streaming make the connections more immediate. One byproduct of this video interaction is the kind of mise en abyme* effect of seeing yourself on a tiny screen-within-a-screen, in real time, within this digital space. This constant self-awareness that we can often ignore in physical interactions exerts a mental toil when it’s a recurring feature on the apps we use to connect with others.
With this in mind, I will delve into these digital spaces, explore the formal qualities of the interfaces, how they impact the perceived communal and personal experiences of the participants, and what opportunities are there for more localized and hybrid digital/physical spaces.
* “Mise en abyme is a formal technique of placing a copy of an image within itself, often in a way that suggests an infinitely recurring sequence. In film theory and literary theory, it refers to the technique of inserting a story within a story. The term is derived from heraldry and literally means ‘placed into abyss’.” Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mise_en_abyme
Sergio Serrano is a graphic designer and artist born in Mexico, now living in Edmonton. He received a BA in Design from the University of Alberta in 2009. His design client-work focuses mainly on the arts and education. Literature and mythology are recurring themes in his artwork, which explores the narratives humans create in order to understand themselves and their place in the world around them. He works in print media and book works, creating images and objects that feel both familiar and unknown. His work also deals with the communication and transformation of these narratives in language, content and form.
The In Community Artist Residency is made possible by the Edmonton Arts Council’s Connections and Exchanges Organizational Initiatives Grant.