How do technological, economic and cultural forces transform image production and perception over time?
About the exhibition—
Lux Aeterna is a year-long online 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 performances, publications, workshops, talks, and essays commissioned for an online research platform, 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 is curated by Emily Zimmerman, Director + Curator of the Jacob Lawrence Gallery at the University of Washington.
Lux Aeterna—meaning a light that refuses to be extinguished—references obsolete technologies that resist capitalistic cycles of forced obsolescence. The project 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. How is media shaped by biases and limitations inherent to today’s media platforms, and global networks? 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 Steyrl 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 to an online research platform where they can probe the projects themes and connect with remote audiences via Zoom discussions, streaming video, 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.