Are you in a public space? If so, take a moment to look around you. What do you see?
Whether you are surrounded by strangers on a crowded city bus or at a dinner table breaking bread with close friends, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who isn’t looking at their phone.
These interactions – or rather lack thereof – pose the question: do our so-called ‘communication’ devices connect us as they are intended to, or do they merely make it easier for us to disconnect from one another?
This dichotomy of communication technologies has been especially intriguing to Joan Sanger, an artist who has spent over 20 years traversing the globe to photograph the exciting lifestyles modelled by storefront mannequins. As Joan captured these glamorous, posed figures through the lens of her camera, she observed the detached and confined lives of the people who surround these artificial models of our own imagined reality. It was out of this fascination that Whose Reality Is It? was born.
Whose Reality Is It? will provide multiple perspectives for the viewer to consider: the mannequins are lively and attractive, but also fabricated and unattainable. Yet, how can we determine what is real and what is not when the majority of our free moments are spent polishing unrealistic images of ourselves on social media and inside virtual realities?
The exhibition will juxtapose these photographs of mannequins with images of people immersed in their digital devices. It is through this juxtaposition that visitors are asked to contemplate these idealized illusions – whether they be virtual or tangible – that are created to distract us from engaging in sincere, fulfilling lives with those around us.
To bring this exhibition to life, visitors are encouraged to take photos with the posed mannequins and immerse themselves into their perfectly curated scenes. THEMUSEUM will also embrace this kind of interactive engagement prior to the opening of Whose Reality Is It? on October 4, 2017, by curating a collection of user-generated photographs.
To take part in this, all you have to do is stop, look up from your own digital device, and snap a photo of other people who are disengaged with the world around them and instead immersed in the world provided by their handheld electronics. Beginning in September through January, citizens are welcome to upload their photos across social media using the hashtag #ModelCitizensKW. Pulling from this hashtag, THEMUSEUM will then populate a live feed via digital screens with these photos.