Two Newcastle Fine Art graduates, Peter Hanmer and Petra Szemán, are being showcased at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Arts, after being shortlisted for a prestigious award.
Their work is included in the exhibition “Digital Citizen-The Precarious SubjecTt”, with their art centring around the impact that digital technology has on our society today.
Peter and Petra graduated from Newcastle University in 2014 and 2017 respectively. Their careers have flourished since then, with Peter winning the 2017 Gillian Dickinson North East Young Sculpture Competition with this work that is now on display. They are testimonies of the hard work of the Fine Art department at this University, and Irene Brown, the Head of Fine Art, says that she is extremely proud of both of these young artists. She comments on their successes, saying that they showcase the best of Newcastle graduates by being at the “forefront of contemporary art practice”.
The Baltic Exhibition comments on the presence of digital technology in society and in our individual lives. It asks questions alike, has it prevented us from forming communities because of its ever looming presence? Has the importance of public space been weakened by it, and hence has our ability for informed political action been lost? It draws on society’s concerns about “different aspects of the digital realm”, and invites us to question elements of our relationship to it. Peter’s work is based on Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”, and through a series of miniature figures, which are positioned in a tiny dictatorship, questions whether we ever see reality or only a construct of it. Similarly, Petra’s work is a series of two short videos, which include a tutorial on how to create an avatar. She has used a voiceover to ask the viewer questions about whether the creator’s fictional reality is in any way different to the reality that we see today, as we experience both in very similar ways.
Both exhibitions use digital technology to resonate with concerns in our society about its power over us. Are we really living in a world like that of Orwell’s 1984, where reality is only a concept, and digital technology controls us? The exhibition runs until the 16th June 2019, and the exhibition is a thought-provoking experience about the foundations of our society.