Sebastian Gonzalez Quintero
MFA ’21 Film/Video
“The modern era, it is often asserted, has freed humanity from the Earth, and propelled it into a new age of progress in which human-made goods take precedence over natural products.
The trouble is that none of the above is true.
We are today even more dependent on botanical matter than we were three hundred years [ago] (…). Most contemporary humans are completely dependent on energy that comes from long-buried carbon—and what are coal, oil, and natural gas except fossilized forms of botanical matter?”
How does this statement relate to virtuality and the digital realm? Is virtuality as distant from the natural and material world as it seems to be? What about technologies like cloud storage that appear to detach consumers from tangible elements, creating an apparent distance between themselves and the natural resources they rely on?
e-Dust is an interactive piece that explores the connection between the digital realm and natural resources. This work presents a scenario in which the existence of a digital entity depends on the audience’s interaction with a raw material. Here, a virtual three-dimensional object, sourced from photographs of clouds, changes its properties and movements based on the audience’s interaction with a block of graphite.
Traces are left in both the digital and tangible realms. In the digital realm, the virtual object draws on the screen, creating a collectively constructed changing image. In the tangible realm, the graphite that allows the audience to interact with the virtual entity also leaves traces on each person’s hands.
Amitav Ghosh. The Nutmeg’s Curse. 2021.