How do digital interfaces influence and format our senses? What is the relationship between technical media and human subjectivity, between virtual and real reality? Berlin-based artist Susanne M. Winterling has been exploring these questions for some time. In her solo show Immersion in Minor at Overbeck-Gesellschaft in Lübeck she translated them into a series of immersive environments which got into the skin of things and bodies.
The exhibition opened with the installation Schaukel auf Schotter (Solidarität) (Swing on Gravel [Solidarity], 2014) a swing in the middle of the room floating above dark grey pebbles covering the floor. Hopping on, one could see on one wall Kellergewölbe (1881), a watercolour by Lübeck-born Impressionist Maria Slavona depicting the basement of her own home; on the opposite wall the mixed-media work Solidarität II, (Solidarity II, 2014), including a black and white photograph showing three women from the Italian feminist movement on a mattress, their bodies – and the image itself – covered by a blanket.
Touch me (2014) was comprised of a series of black plexi sheets covered with coloured climbing stones leaning against the walls and an easel. The ‘interactive’ work asked to be touched, clutched, lifted up, moved and rearranged. In dieser Entfernung von der Sonne ist ein Planet (A Planet is in this Distance from the Sun, 2014) an HD video loop on an iPad, showed a red dot appear and cross the screen before quickly disappearing. And in the video Handstift (Hand-pen, 2014) one saw a close-up of two hands in the act of breaking a pen in two – the ink spilling out onto a piece of cloth, which in turn changes colour. On the wall on the other side of the room, the video Scorpio (2014) shows a still, luminescent scorpion immersed in water. Nothing seemed to be happening when finally the animal decided to move and disappeared. Moving to another room one became immersed in a collage of field recordings: the crisp sound of drums, the howling of the wind, words from Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse (1927) and the chirping of birds in Spacesurfacesound (2014).
In her Cyborg Manifesto (1985) Donna Haraway defined the cyborg as ‘a condensed image of imagination and material reality.’ Immersion in Minor developed its own grammar of the body and turned Haraway’s cyborg image into a physical reality to be experienced with all senses. Moving between the digital and the poetic, Winterling’s works explored the depth of surfaces and the material nature of abstraction seeming to pose the question: how might a cyborg sense and feel in a time of soft technologies and flat screens?