In the universe of Instagram, the international friendship and artist collaboration between Jim Eyre (UK) and Natalie Christensen (USA) began in 2017. Through DM conversations they discussed their observations of exhibiting their art on Instagram and the psychological effects of that practice. Their correspondence blossomed into a collaboration in which they built art pieces that respond to the often-fraught practice of sharing work in a virtual space that wasn’t built with art appreciation in mind.
In the latest iteration of their collaboration, Jim and Natalie created a single large-scale mural. SHIFTING SCAPE(S) is an idealized manifestation of a social media hyperscape and its accompanying profound psychological effects. Through the artists’ use of familiar and contemporary urban objects, it is at once both a visual contemplation of the negative emotions and disorientation that often mark our immersions into these unreal spaces, and a call to analyze the resulting frustrations, complications, and disappointments we experience in these commercially-mediated spaces that present themselves disingenuously as free, freely accessible, and ultimately beneficial.
Beckoning us with bright colors and multi-directional illuminations, the mural – like its subject – is always on. The familiar objects and contexts allow us to contemplate voyeuristically the (dis) connection and pseudo-intimacy we recognize as found in lieu of meaningful relations with others, sealed off as we are bodily, and constrained in how we communicate.
The mural is also an articulation of something else that is fundamental in our shared experiences online: the feeling of aimlessness, of being without a map or direction. There are almost no objective indicators, no GPS, no road signs; no wayfinding, no center, nothing to comfort, ease or settle us. There is nothing to tell us we are headed into an isolated back road of self-doubt, a vortex of shame, or an experience that may be way beyond what we bargained for.
Reflecting on its subject matter, SHIFTING SCAPE(S) – as a 10’ x 20’ installation – is designed to transform, decompose, and ultimately disappear. The piece is an exploration of the conundrum around the ephemerality of their work and the disposable nature of art on Instagram. Intentionally situated across the increasingly porous boundaries of interior and exterior spaces, and open to the progressively unpredictable natural elements and the destructive energies of contemporary late Capitalism.