Avatars, Doppelgangers and Allegorical Landscapes
November 24 – December 29, 2019
This year the Regionale celebrates its 20th anniversary, a unique partnership between 18 cultural institutions in Switzerland, Germany and France. The Regionale is entirely dedicated to artistic diversity in the region and thus makes a clear statement for cross-border cooperation in the trinational region. This year, the HeK (House of the Electronic Arts Basel) presents a selection of 12 artists who create avatars, doppelgangers, allegorical landscapes and environments to explore the diverse identities of people in the digital age.
The doppelgänger is a fantastic figure in literature, that recurringly emerges as a premonition of events yet to unfold, often with dramatic outcomes. This imaginary character has survived to this day and has evolved into numerous modern variations. Our interconnected culture encourages the proliferation of multiple digital identities of ourselves, from social media accounts to imaginary characters in video games and other private platforms for online chat and meetings.
We are creating avatars to live beyond our physical boundaries, and these avatars shape us in return, influencing our identity and our social relationships. Not only the separation between private and public life is being blurred, also the different spheres of social construct are being multiplied. The entertainment industry puts the human at the centre of its spectacle, while the internet yields a most radical version of reality shows in the form of live streams, with millions of youtubers broadcasting from their private rooms.
Quite like the protagonists of a human circus, we are narcissistic creatures observing and admiring ourselves, forging our image to better seduce each other. Likewise, industrial design and landscape architecture modify our surroundings to better conform to our needs and desires, while digital technologies allow an increasing number of automated devices to learn from our personal data, behaviours, and emotions.
The environment in which we live, made up of customized objects and furniture, smart cities programmed with user data, and engineered landscapes, has slowly become a reflection of our persona. Extending the human body beyond its biological limitation, these landscapes and environments are allegorical monuments of humanity’s greed to occupy and dominate the world it inhabits. We are no longer surprised by doppelgängers, instead we create them.
These avatars are the digital counterparts in our social networks, the smart assistants of our personal devices, the automated environments and smart cities around us. Between indulging in technological escapism and imagining our posthuman existence, which new images and areas of ourselves are left for us to discover? The artists in the exhibition examine the construction of our identity by exploring new meanings associated with the production of avatars, doppelgängers, allegorical landscapes and awakened environments.