Then They Form Us

Xavier Cha, Constant Dullaart, Cecile B. Evans, Devin Kenny, Hayal Pozanti, and Julien Previeux

Digital technologies in the 21st century permeate nearly every aspect of contemporary life, impacting perception and experience. As computers increasingly co-opt the human body during an age of ultra-connectivity, the artists in this exhibition explore the precarious status of the self during its pixelated or roboticized evolution. In navigating the territory of online culture, where personal data, expressions, behavior, and emotions are stored and processed in often unseen or recondite behind-the-screen operations, their works question the ways in which identities are altered with immersion into the digital realm.

The exhibition title, Then they form us, refers to the influential writings of Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan. In the 1960s he wrote about various technologies (such as television) as extensions of ourselves that influence our position in and experience of the world. His prescient thinking resonates at a time when the mutation of computers into humans and vice versa is being radically innovated by the intelligence of machines and their users. In recognizing the tension between both the allure and threat of new technologies—from social media to affective computing—the artists in this exhibition address the morphing body by way of the body, using performance, video, painting, photography and sculpture to investigate its physical and cognitive adaptations.

Participating artists include: Xavier Cha (b. 1980, Los Angeles, CA); Constant Dullaart (b. 1979, Leiderdorp, NL); Cécile B. Evans (b. 1983, Cleveland, OH); Devin Kenny (b. 1987, Chicago, IL); Hayal Pozanti (b. 1983, Istanbul, TR); and Julien Prévieux (1974, Grenoble, FR).

Then they form us is curated by Brooke Kellaway, MCASB Associate Curator.


Special Thanks to:

Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara (MCASB) exhibition and education programs are generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts; Nordstrom; Towbes Foundation; Dedalus Foundation; Ann Jackson Family Foundation; Community Events & Festivals Grant Program using funds provided by the City of Santa Barbara in partnership with the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission; Mosher Foundation in honor of Barry Berkus, recommended by Dr. Bruce McFadden; Montecito Bank & Trust; High Tide Foundation; and contributions from our Board of Trustees and many generous individuals. MCASB Curator’s Council is gratefully acknowledged for their support. Additional significant support is provided by The James Irvine Foundation; Getty Foundation; Hutton Parker Foundation; Williams-Corbett Foundation; Hutton Parker Foundation/Cox Communications Marketing Grant, and Santa Barbara Foundation.

Special thanks to: Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center; Santa Barbara Independent; Telegraph Brewery; and Wayne McCall & Associates.

[Press Release]

  • August 8, 2015 - October 25, 2015


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