Digital Landfill, Interactive Website, 2021
Today’s digital communication platform performs like a giant meat market within the phantom of Neoliberal capitalism. Visual content is stripped naked to accelerate information exchange thus stimulating instantaneous gratification of desire. Anything that does not perform along with that pornographic aesthetic becomes invisible to the algorithm. Yet, if our desire can be fulfilled instantly, then what is this insatiable shared feeling of emptiness especially amid this pandemic? As the inhibitors of this digital realm, we are both creator and consumer battling over visibility. We are entangled with the algorithmic reflection of the self in this reflective room of mirrors. Drowning within the endless cycle of overproduction and overconsumption orchestrated through the exploitation of the self. Instead of caring for the self and knowing the self, we voluntarily exploit the self in hope of exchange of visibility and likes, only to benefit big corps that toys with our data. Mitchell Foucault once asked, "What are we in our actuality?" Amongst the rapid advancement of contemporary digital technology and our everyday engagement with social media, maybe it is dire for us to reestablish the technology of the self through a communal pause from the desire to consume. A shared connection not through performing the same act, but having the privilege of not doing anything together. In response to that, Digital Landfill is an internet-based project that invites the viewers to explore within a digital landscape made of visual fragments collected through Instagram. The fragmentation of the initial smooth digital image keeps viewers at a playful distance, encouraging viewers to look, guess, and engage. While this digital realm constantly perpetuates the importance of visibility and hyper-activeness, this digital landfill hopes to create a counter experience. A place reserved for contemplative lingering instead of consumption.
Lingxiang Wu is a Chinese visual artist currently based in Toronto. He received his MFA degree in Interdisciplinary Master’s of Arts, Media, and Design at OCAD University in 2019. Wu experiments with various mediums such as photographic collage, video, animation, and installation. The topics of Wu’s interest include digital/physical space, the aesthetics of rough/smooth, and creative potential behind the idea of boredom.
Wu’s works explore contemporary life that is integrated seamlessly between urban and digital spaces, attempting to get a grasp of the reasons behind those fleeting moments of boredom, feelings of misfit, and anxiety of not being productive. Even one minute away from the phone seems unbearable. Why do we mindlessly scroll through Instagram? Why do we play idle games that only require us to collect rewards? What triggers this insatiable desire to consume. Inspired by German-Korean philosopher Byung-Chul Han’s theory on the “Aesthetic of the Smooth” and German artist Hito Steyerl’s discussion of “poor images” and post-production, Wu questions if the current obsession on the smooth aesthetic leads to a generalized loss of experience, and influence our sensibility to experience our surroundings.