nerd_funk and the emergence of a new genre
nerd_funk is the name of an ambitious, multi-faceted project by Ali Eslami and Mamali Shafahi. Ali and Mamali are both Iranian by birth but now based mainly in Europe. Ali is from a new-technology background but has gravitated towards art, and will soon take up a two-year residency at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. Mamali is from a fine-arts background, but has developed a strong interest in new technologies, now often at the heart of his practice. Their profiles fit together neatly, like the pieces of a puzzle; this helps explain the unique strengths of their partnership in a project that combines art and high-tech.
They're interested in the effects new technologies may have on the future of the Earth and the life forms it supports.
They're interested in persona, whether real or cyber, quoting Benjamin Bratton: 'It will become unclear [...] whether one is encountering a fully autonomous, partially autonomous or completely human-piloted synthetic intelligence [...] is this a person or a machine? Is there a person behind this machine? And if so, how much is a person? In time, the answer may come to matter less...' (Bratton, The Stack).
And they're interested in the continuum running from the real to the virtual, encompassing multiple variations and blurring boundaries between subject and object, object and subject.Wikipedia here.)
Both feel our civilization has reached a crucial, or at least a particularly interesting stage, and that it would therefore be useful, especially given the ephemeral nature of what flashes past, at hurricane pace, on the likes of Instagram, to take a 'snapshot' and make a record or archive of things as they stand today.
nerd_funk: a new kind of experience
So they started work on nerd_funk. Briefly, the aim of nerd_funk is to curate an archive of thousands of Instagram stories Ali and Mamali see as relevant to their interests, as outlined above, and use it as a base of source material for new kinds of experience for users/spectators: immersive experiences, which may be seen as artworks, film, documentary, entertainment, or all of these and more.
To help build up their archive, Ali and Mamali created an Instagram persona, called nerd_funk. They sometimes curate the account themselves, and sometimes hand the job over for a week or more to guests. They now have now a base of thousands of posts and stories, and it continues to grow.
The spectacular core of the nerd_funk project, and the most demanding, time-consuming and costly to produce, is a series of five immersive experiences centred on VR. In each of these, users or spectators enter a large, installed, physical space, setting the stage, and sometimes also offering preparatory activities, for a virtual reality experience of about ten minutes in length. Each of the five VR 'chapters' takes users on a virtual journey featuring, within the kaleidoscopic digital space, as the adventure unfolds, Instagram stories relevant to the topic, taken from the archive.
Excerpt from nerd_funk Chapter 1: #RAY_OSCOPY
The five chapters are:
- #RAY_OSCOPY (post-body, probing a new consciousness of the body and our physical and mental capacities)
- #TECHNO_HOLE (techno-party, investigating rave culture and the attractions of potentially self-destructive artificial stimulation)
- #N2 (new nature, looking at the relations between the digital revolution, new technologies, our planet and the ecosystem)
- #MORTAL_7 (cyber-identity: is this a person or a machine?)
- #SUBTERRANEA (augmented city: human and non-human actors and the reality–virtuality continuum).
More than VR: a multifaceted project
|Samples from nerd_funk's Instagram archive|