How do technological, economic, and cultural forces shape the way we produce, share, and experience media — and how does media in turn influence our aesthetics and values?
About the exhibition—
Lux Aeterna is a year-long research platform and exhibition that traces and troubles the currents of technical migration and image circulation. Featuring work by more than a dozen artists, it explores the ways media production and presentation platforms shape our values and perception over time. Beginning in summer 2020 with a series of publications, performances, and essays, Lux Aeterna will culminate in August 2021 with an exhibition, featuring newly commissioned artworks in a variety of media alongside previously existing works.
Lux Aeterna considers how works are shaped by the devices that produce them and by the networks by which they are circulated and consumed, raising timely questions about origination and ownership. Dynamics like these have profound implications on the interplay between our aesthetic preferences and how we understand our own mutable sensory experiences.
These questions apply not only to the technical devices themselves but also the media they produce. As images lose fidelity to the circumstances that created them, are they degraded or liberated? As German artist Hito Steyerl writes in her 2009 essay “In Defense of the Poor Image,” “Poor images … are the debris of audiovisual production, the trash that washes up on the digital economies’ shores. They testify to the violent dislocation, transferrals, and displacement of images—their acceleration and circulation within the vicious cycles of audiovisual capitalism. Poor images are dragged around the globe as commodities or their effigies, as gifts or as bounty. They spread pleasure or death threats, conspiracy theories or bootlegs, resistance or stultification. Poor images show the rare, the obvious, and the unbelievable—that is, if we can still manage to decipher it.”
In the months prior to the Lux Aeterna exhibition, artists have been invited to contribute research on the project's themes and connect with audiences via discussions, streaming video, performances, the postal service, and more. The outcomes from these projects and discussions will inform the August 2021 exhibition.
Lux Aeterna is curated by Jacob Lawrence Gallery director + curator Emily Zimmerman and produced in partnership with Northwest Film Forum, which is providing artists with access to out-of-production media devices, streaming services, and specialized production support.