Project by MA Fine Art alumna wins gold in prestigious international prize.
Date: 22 October 2021
UNINVITED, a project by London Metropolitan University Fine Art MA alumna Nye Thompson, in collaboration with artist UBERMORGEN, has won gold in the Moving Image Category of the 2021 Lumen Prize.
Described as' a horror film for machine networks and human-machine organisms' UNINVITED explores the nature of perception, realism of the unknown and the terror of angst and exhaustion within emergent network consciousness. It is one of 35 works selected from over 1200 entries across 60 different countries for the Lumen Prize. The annual award now in its' tenth year celebrates the very best art created with technology through a global competition.
Since the beginning of 2016, Nye Thompson has been documenting and exploring the global phenomenon of self-surveillance through the artwork Backdoored, which collects and archives images taken by searchbots through unsecured security cameras. Backdoored sparked a global debate about privacy when it was originally exhibited at London Metropolitan University in August 2016. Since then, Thompson has exhibited around the UK, Europe and the Far East, including Tate Modern, The Barbican, The Louvre, The V&A, ZKM Karlsruhe, Ars Electronica and The Lowry and her projects have continued to explore the human/ digital interface.
UNINVITED (2018–) is a self-evolving networked organism watching and generating a recursive 'horror film' scenario using mechatronic Monsters - digital flesh running machine learning algorithms. Described by the artists as "a radically new creature looking at the world and nothing makes sense, while hearing the universe through millions of hallucinogenic virally abused sensors," the work is a hybrid nervous system, an embodied network of somatic-synaptic exchange. Emerging as a cast of protocols, functions and memories that interact, intervene, and recombine in open-ended narratives and effect actions, Thompson and UBERMORGEN's life-form evolves and defines its own existence and agency while experiencing fear, instability and vulnerability.
UNINVITED is presented both as a horror film and an installation that transforms the gallery into a zone of rapid cycling between comfort and discomfort, disrupting the traditional contract between the work and the visitor by insisting on the life-form's autonomy to define its own path and way of communicating. Seemingly irrational, the uncanny and eerie creature moves on rails in response to its own encrypted soundscapes and surveillance images, echoing back with shadows of its own shared experiences. These moving projections, surround sounds and insect-like shells remind us of alien species living on earth among us. Each invisible being becomes its own, creates identity, communicates with other areas of its organism. Viewers become observers while being parts of this allegedly alien organism.
The Lumen Prize 2021 was presented at a ceremony at the Barbican Centre on Thursday 21 October. You can watch a short extract of UNINVITED here.
Image: 'UNINVITED film still 'Baseline Metropolis' (2020) by Nye Thompson & UBERMORGEN , courtesy of the artists