Can technology create a deeper and richer human experience? With that question in mind, Glamcult is proud to announce the next visual artists to feature in our Lente Kabinet 2018 experience: the art-meets-tech collective Telemagic. Together with experimentalists Ymer Marinus and Roos Groothuizen, Cyanne van den Houten—a recent graduate from the Sandberg Institute—formed a collective of “spiritual surfers” who describe their work as an “open-media lab”. Opposing the idea that the invisibility of technology is something to be feared, they embrace it, cherish it and mould it into something physical and tangible. In the lead-up to the festival, we asked Telemagic a few pressing questions.
With technology becoming smaller and more invisible by the second, how has this altered your outlook and artistic representations of your subjects?
One of our motives as Telemagic is playing with this invisible aspect of technological development: to make it visible and physical. As an open-media lab we make sense of the mysteries that revolve around digital humanities. Tune in and out of the world of occult mysticism and hidden infrastructures of digital environments monetized by leading tech companies.
Back in the days, you could see or touch the latest machines as they made their way through the world, the clever arrangements of mechanical parts and guileless forces of energy. Today the world of occultism is obtaining visibility—micro-technologies never invaded and inhabited the body so literally and closely, whereas media today have. They sculpt vibrating streams of electrons into complex invisible architectures of logic and information, with the smallest components on some chips shrinking below wavelength of visible light.
We’ve crossed the beachhead of the incorporeal—and at the same time obtain our deepest desires and longing for enchantment with this help). This invading logic of technology has become invisible, literally occult. Today you need some serious tech just to hack the nature of a glitch. Because without the code, you’re mystified… and the rumour goes that nobody has all the codes anymore.
Your outlook in previous work appears to present technology not as something that should be feared but something to be cherished, that is malleable. How does this make itself present in your art?
Totally right! We feel a crucial urge to play and inform people in a contagious way (how cult of us) and to stand up. We have developed some warrior strategies to fight humanities fearing for the future. One of our favourite and most pure strategy is mirroring the ‘Zeitgeist’, like in our 1 Euro Cinema. If you put in 1 euro you get a video of one of the 40+ amazing young video artists reacting on topics like social change, evolving spaces and questioning bias and current tech affairs. We try to create a platform for this conversation starter using an independent (not profitable) financial structure. It’s an incredible important amount of positive energy on future scenarios. All of this is a product of a techno-optimist, Telemagic mentality. Our spiritual guidance and the fun we have playing with code might be the magic spell of our media-lab. Everything can be enchanted, objects are able to tell stories with the use of sensor technology. We play with womankind’s deepest longings to be omniscient and tap into amazing databanks to make this possible. We live in an amazing time, and we feel the urge to remythologize and make those myths more tangible.
Do you think, in society, we are forming technology and moulding it in the right way?
We don’t believe society forms technology; it is a driving force of its own. We think a specific group of people are forming it, and society is moulding that by interpreting new tools in their own practical way. Technology gained incredible steps for i.e. humanity, healthcare, human rights in the last 20 years.
The only thing with surfing on a newly sighted planet is that it’s incredibly important to keep track of freedom. We want freedom instead of monetization of our fundamental platforms. We need to act to stay in control. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that people are organizing the internet. With Telemagic we want to envision the force in new ways. We play with this as an open media-lab by creating a lot of noise and work without a direct purpose, to keep on track and reflect on development in these fields.
What is it about technology that you cherish the most?
The endless possibilities to create a deeper and richer human experience.
Some of your most recent pieces have placed the financial aspect of art into the equation. What are your views on the affective role of money in the production and interpretation of art?
We indeed recently created TeleState, an arcade oracle hall at De School, Amsterdam, for 52 hours. Eight hyper vending machines tapping into the infosphere, making predictions about your future behaviour. In all of these machines (like the 1 Euro Cinema) a coin is needed to start your journey. We explore a new territory with our work, and are explicitly non-commercial in the way we use our technologies. We are always seeking for independent ways of financing our scientific experiments. To some extent, the ‘oracles’ are a fun critical wink to the contemporary art climate. Compared to what sacrifices the ancient Greeks had to make for an advice of the Oracle of Delphi, we think a tiny financial offering is still pretty doable. Morphing into an offerer, the investor now also has a crucial function and active state in the work, that is based on reflection of the self.
What was the inspiration behind your recent Wheel of Telefortune?
For the imagination: The Wheel of Telefortune was one of our guru machines on show during TeleState. You simply put in 50 cents, a wheel starts spinning, you hit a button to point out in what category you want to receive your digital fortune, when you’re lucky it actually stops there, a three sentence-long personally generated acid-look cyber prediction is pulsated word for word to you.
The inspiration behind this guru, is on the one hand the logic of our modern gold-seeking tech companies/guru’s earning money on user data. What they do is predict your future behaviour by a constructed logic of your interests. Like Amazon is claiming to know what you want before you even know it yourself. Telemagic has the same working method but investigates the fuzzy uncertainty that floats around magic and machine. That for us is more important than a slapdash explanation of it actually works (our pop-culture strategy), like the reality and fiction we shape as humanity.
As mentioned before, The Wheel of TeleFortune is part of a bigger family of works that are caught in the prophecy of algorithmic predictions on our future behaviour. These works together could be considered an occult technology that is an equivalent to the ‘oracle’. The oracle used the alchemical quality of group dynamics to transform inside jokes, gossip, and petty infighting into advice fit for a king. The oracle processed groupthink as poetry. The oracle’s way of creating new things in the world was to convert nonsense into sense, like data analysis companies do and we as humans tend to decode habitual consensual algorithms.
Many forms of spiritual practice involve stilling the busy mind and being present to, without being hooked by, these incoming data streams.
If you could place it in any one spot in the city, where would that be?
Our work has always been closely related and evolved in (love with) nightlife, so we are very happy to participate in Lente Kabinet. We’ve been honoured to invade some clubs in Amsterdam already, we always create or tweak our works in close relation to the space we claim. Currently our curiosity grew to see how Telemagic functions in a museological modern art context. But real dreams would be to put some Telemagic in a abandoned metro station, on the roof of Amsterdam’s data centre, in a zeppelin, and we like UFOs a lot. Also, underwater our interest is big in submarines. Máxima’s bedroom is interesting, but an empty underground parking place is also fine.
What can we expect from your little art world at Lente Kabinet?
There is a contemporary problem of charging your smartphone during (music) festivals. People show nearly ritualistic social behaviour when they’ve found a place to plug in their phones (think, the human circles around ‘charging poles’. We solve this problem for you with a spiritual meeting place. *TeleVape* is the tale of an enchanted power bank to charge your device and yourself into a deep hypnosis during the festival. All charging that happens inside will be mirrored with direct effects of synaesthetic environment. In droning generative sound waves, images from deep visions of future after lives, behaviours, interaction with your most intimate tech (that will make even Zuckerberg jealous).
If one song could define your artwork and artist projection, what would it be?
Come to Lente Kabinet! We will have a custom algorithm making the ultimate Telemagic theme song influenced by your power plug. We will not let you down.