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Survive the Californian Drought with Giant Survivalist Totems

New media artist Sterling Crispin attempts to boost the collective consciousness with four-part installation, 'N.A.N.O. , B.I.O. , I.N.F.O. , C.O.G.N.O.'

by Benoit Palop
Jul 23 2015, 3:05pm

All images courtesy of the artist

On-view since last week, Now? Now!, the main exhibition at the 2015 Biennial of the Americas at MCA Denver, questions today's economic, political, geographic, environmental, and technological concerns through a meaningful and wide-ranging body of works that engage viewers with our ever-evolving modern society, offering, at times, a fictional and poetic escape.

Among a roster of 30 or so international artists who teamed up to critically and creatively analyze and discuss contemporary questions, Los Angeles-based new media artist Sterling Crispin dug in and came up with N.A.N.O. , B.I.O. , I.N.F.O. , C.O.G.N.O., a brand new four-part installation that not only literally catches the eye but fits perfectly within the exhibition's themes. “Sterling's new work for Now? Now! makes visible, in a very physical and quite eerie way, the various forces that lie in the background of the present,” Lauren A. Wright, Artistic Director and Curator of the Biennial of the Americas tells The Creators Project. “His little army embodies the forces that are ready, perhaps, to undermine the facade of stability that I think we all secretly know might be cracking.”

The "army" she's referring to is comprised of sci-fi-inspired totemic sculptures made up of various items including an aluminum server rack, a Raspberry device, ethernet cables, emergency food rations, and even shares in publicly traded companies. They're full-on survivalist sculptures.

While living in California, Crispin witnessed the contradictory and illogical narratives regarding vital questions about the future of mankind. “Farms are drying up, and swimming pools are full. Meanwhile, startups and tech giants see a bright future of technology fueled liberation, driverless cars, AI, robotics—transcendental technology,” Crispin explains to The Creators Project. “Greenpeace and Google seem to have mutually exclusive predictions of the future, and I'm on the middle path.”

Thus, Crispin's work confronts viewers with a subtle, speculative fiction survival-kit that anticipates a chaotic and unstable future. “An apocalypse, a technological Singularity, a collapse, a rebirth. Something will happen. When a virus grows, either its host fights it back, or the host and the virus reach an equilibrium, or the host dies,” Crispin says. “I imagine the future to be some middle path between the Peak Oil collapse and Kurzweil's Singularity—with a healthy dose of extreme global warming, endless cyber warfare, governmental plutocracy, revolution, and lots and lots of artificial intelligence and autonomous robots." 

Thankfully, with a subtle nod to his sculptures, Crispin was kind enough to give us a secret survival trick: “If you're really worried about survival, I would check out Lifesaver's 'Life Straw' for $20. You can turn dirty water into drinkable water for two years with a device that fits in your pocket,” he says. “Also, stop eating beef. It takes 1,800 gallons of water to make 1 lb of beef. We need to tread lightly on earth if we are to survive,” he concludes.

N.A.N.O. , B.I.O. , I.N.F.O. , C.O.G.N.O. and Now? Now! will be on view in Denver until August 30. Now? NOW! is curated by Lauren A. Wright, Artistic Director and Curator, Biennial of the Americas, with Anya Pantuyeva, Curatorial Assistant. Click here for more info. 

Credits:

N.A.N.O. , B.I.O. , I.N.F.O. , C.O.G.N.O.

Aluminum Server Rack, Cat 6 Ethernet Cables, Zip Ties, Laser Cut Acrylic, Raspberry Pi MicroComputer and Keyboard, Emergency Food Rations, Lifesaver Jerry Can with 2 Year Nanoscale Water Filter, 100 Shares of Publicly Traded Companies ( N.A.N.O.: Altair Nanotech Inc., B.I.O.: Hemispherx Biopharma, Inc, I.N.F.O.: RIT Technologies LTD, C.O.G.N.O.: Intellect Neurosciences Inc). 40 x 98 x 25 in each. 2015.

Related:

Facial Recognition Sees You as a Pattern, Not a Person

Sterling Crispin Weaves Virtual Algorithmic Landscapes

Artist Dances With Drone And Turns The Interaction Into A 3D Printed Sculpture

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