Through materialising and aestheticising digital processes, Danish artist Rune Bering (born 1984) points to political and existential issues defining our time. Bering establishes a phenomenological exchange between human consciousness and the digital realm, as he uncovers a conflicting cosmos where nature, hopes and dreams meet consumerism, surveillance and digital technology.
For the exhibition My Username is Darina94 Bering sets the scene of a dystopian, almost futuristic landscape; a tipped over shopping cart filled with burning screens, strange looking letters form enigmatic sentences and charred flower prints cover the walls. The distancing, yet alluring screens of pink pixels play a home fire video which has been repeatedly uploaded and downloaded to different social media. This manipulative process has gradually broken down the fire’s physicality and allowed the media’s decompression algorithm to manifest itself. Sentences like ‘H́OͭLA m̠y fu͆tur͢e f#cker’ derive from mass produced spam sent out to millions of people promising casual sex and easy money. In order to pass through the spamfilter, spam has become increasingly complex and can consist of codes and symbols invisible for the naked eye. By deconstructing spam mails, Bering unveils a fascinating and deeply absurd universe of a type of language developed to cheat the Unicode system (a system developed to optimise and control computer communication across alphabets and languages). Among others, he finds that hidden behind the spam mail’s visible text (i.e. H́OͭLA m̠y fu͆tur͢e f#cker) are passages of text deriving from American author Jillian Hart’s conservative romance-novels. Bering uses the contrasting meeting between the personal relation and spam, sex adverts and love, intimacy and apathy, emails and ‘chick-lit’ paperbacks to question and reflect on relations between man, space and technology. Do we exist in a reality so digitalised, controlled and regulated that mass produced spam can almost appear freeing and authentic - maybe a hint of hope for a future with acces to personal privacy?
Consistently through Bering’s practice lies the interest in challenging technology to manifest itself physically. The series of black flower prints are various stock photos of Rocky Mountains wildflowers, they have been laser printed many times, thereby revealing the printer’s technological characteristics. In contrast to an inkjet printer, laser printers burn toner containing actual coal onto the paper. When this process is repeated over and over the paper chars and the motive is gradually broken down into mass of coal. The works become an abstraction of themselves and a type of hybrid between the unique and the mass produced, between the analogue and the digital. You are compelled to wonder; is there anything left but technology itself?