Ansible

Ansible departs from the global roll-out of the 5G infrastructure to explore the disconnect between the speed of telecommunications and the human act of communication. The work unfolds in the form of a conversation between the fictional characters meeting for the first time on an internet video chatroom, each from their own corners of the world. The work explores these themes not only within the finished piece itself, but also in the documentation of the creation process: over the course of several months, the artists left improvised scripted voice messages on each other’s phones, each in their own native language.

 

 

In 2016, 5G became the latest generation of cellular broadband and subsequently the gold standard for wireless communications technologies across the world. Proponents have speculated that once 5G has achieved mass roll-out, it will form the cornerstone of a whole host of next-generation technologies, including self-driving cars, remote surgery, and live-streamed immersive entertainment. Inherent in this discourse however are a number of unexamined and concealed interests that allow a glimpse into the logic that drives this relentless pursuit of communications speed. In Ansible, we were interested in the particularities of the 5G network itself and how it has, among other things, pitted the interests of Europe against those of the USA and China, as well as awakened the scepticism of conspiracy theorists, who frequently sought to sabotage communications towers across the continent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Importantly, we are also deeply concerned with the personal experience of near-zero latency on individuals’ ability to communicate meaningfully with one another. Despite everything, instant communication does not result in instant comprehension.

Ansible approaches these issues through the lens of a speculative video call platform, named for a term coined by the science fiction writer Ursula le Guin to refer to a hypothetical communications device that could transmit messages instantly across vast distances. As such, it became an interesting lens through which to research and articulate the currents mentioned above, as well as speculate on possible ways that individuals may reclaim some of the agency lost to inexorable technological advancement. In addition, the act of collaborating on the video from our individual cities via video chat played into the process of creation: all three of our characters speak in our individual languages, which are « translated » in real time by the speculative platform we had imagined for the piece.

In the final installation, the video was accompanied by a physical installation involving three scrolls of paper, hung beside one another to mirror the three channels of the video. Using coloured markers, the audience was invited to draw differently-shaped waves on these scrolls to respond to three separate instructions.

Yedam Ann (Germany)

Yedam Ann is an artist based in Berlin. Her interest in separation, convergence, and complexity from how differentness of identities is dealt with in community is visualized in the video, space installation and performance. Currently, she explores the interlocking identities of space and humans in a public area.

 

Alexander Walmsley (Germany)

Alexander Walmsley is a media artist and programmer with a particular interest in urban landscapes, technological environments and infrastructures. His work is situated primarily between 3D and photography, and makes use of a variety of media, including photography, photogrammetry, VR/AR and video. His recent work has been shown at the 59. Venice Biennale, Daejeon Biennale of Arts and Sciences, Tirana Art Lab, Sharjah Art Foundation, The Photographers’ Gallery, and VRHam! Festival. He previously studied archaeology and anthropology at the Universities of Cambridge (UK) and Geneva (CH).

 

Sixin Zeng (The Netherlands)

Sixin Zeng is an artist and graphic designer based in Den Haag, The Netherlands. Various media such as video, publication, sculpture, and other visual ephemera are in her practice functionally to share and narrate stories that are extracted from facts of real life and blended with fiction. Her often-participatory works are driven by intrinsic considerations of the fragments of life she experienced and scraps that received from other living beings, anonymous objects, and environments, primarily leading her to the themes of migration, diaspora, feminism, and topics hovering on top of the intersection, which influence her most as an individual.