"Road Trips" at Barbara Davis Gallery
For this show, Justin Berry includes photographs taken from within video games. Normally, taking a photograph is something that happens twice, once in the eye of the photographer and once through the mechanism of the camera. With the photographs that Berry takes from within a video game, that duality collapses. When he takes these photographs the camera and the gaze are the same, because the eye of the avatar is the camera itself. Here, the player becomes the apparatus that takes the picture. Duality is no longer about the camera and the eye but about the player and the played, the human and virtual creation whose senses they occupy. Berry tries to reduce the distance between those two things, to find agency and meaning within the virtual worlds that he inhabits and to play the game not as a character written into someone else's story, but as himself, and on his own terms.
Additionally, Berry includes a single photograph taken from a road trip in Nova Scotia. Both the virtual photos and the physical one were taken while on a journey, both were captured in stages, combining dozens, or hundreds, of images for each picture. The only differences between the pictures are the places they were taken, the roads that were driven along to find them, and the lens through which the artist captured them. Hanging them together, Berry explores what draws them together as well as what sets them apart.
At IEEE GEM in Galway, Ireland
Labyrinths is a Virtual Reality exhibition that features the works of twenty-four artists in a virtual gallery maze. Classically, the labyrinth is a space where serendipity, danger, and opportunity lurk around every corner. Like the labyrinthian archetype of the minotaur, Virtual Reality enables hybrid forms of imagination and embodiment. Its opportunities can simultaneously engage the worst human impulses or rise to new heights of human aspiration. Archetypal narratives unfold in recursive rhythms, and the spiraling structure of the maze is site for both self-reflection and projection.
Labyrinths have long symbolized psychic and spiritual journeys. In this exhibition, the virtual space becomes a meta-cognitive site where poetic association happens through strange encounters. The exhibition is built upon a mode of controller-less navigation, in which fully embodied navigation drives exploration. The maze itself finds resonant structure in the architecture of the inner ear, which directly effects human sense of proprioception, balance, and spatial awareness. Throughout the maze, participants experience artworks that explore themes self and embodiment, representation and materiality, time and space.
Labyrinths features works by Sara Abbaspour, Rebecca Aston, Bobby Berry, Justin Berry, Philip Birch, Camille Chabrol, Blinn & Lambert, Lance Chantiles-Wertz, Michael Costagliola, Johannes DeYoung, John Eberhart, Jonathan Ehrenberg, Rebecca Gilbert, Jake Jefferies, Antonia Kuo, Adam Moftah, Nicholas O’Brien, Mike Rader, Ilana Savdie, Federico Solmi, Anahita Vossoughi, Jack Wesson, Natalie Westbrook, and Valentina Zamfirescu. The platform utilizes a mode of embodied navigation developed at Yale University’s Center for Collaborative Arts and Media, presented at the IEEE GEM 2018 conference in Galway, Ireland.
This project grew out my research group in Blended Reality at Yale. We built and curated it collectively.
My personal work in the show was a collaboration with Rebecca Gilbert. We built a cube of water that converts the world to black and white when you step inside it. Bubbles emerge from the floor and carry with them all the different sounds of water captured in a 24 hour period, from bathing our daughter, sitting at the beach, taking a shower, using the toilet, washing our hands, etc.