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UK-born, Seattle-based artist James Coupe fuses surveillance technology and social media in his new, J.G. Ballard-inspired installation.
James Coupe's highly unusual practice combines elements of contemporary industrial
surveillance and the darker side of social media. In Swarm, he riffs on the social paranoia
undulating through David Cronenberg's cinema and, in particular, the shifts in personal
identity brought about by new technology in his films. Coupe has created a staged area
within the gallery to capture the surface identities of visitors, processing their "look"
through social media algorithms, and assigning them various "clan allegiances" — a reference
to JG Ballard's High Rise. The images are re-channeled onto monitors, showing the
gallery as if it were exclusively occupied by specific demographics of people. In Coupe's
terrifying universe, visitors will "see the clans occupying the museum, proliferating in
number, assembling and dispersing: a community that appears to be waiting for something
to happen, but in fact dramatically demonstrates how social media technologies involve a
redistribution of identities based upon principles of demographic segmentation, social
exclusivity, and the illusion of community."
Presented and organized in partnership with
the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art,
952 Queen Street West. Runs daily, September 5-15.
Exhibition continues until December 29.
Co-curated by Noah Cowan and David Liss.
- James Coupe
- James Coupe was born in Blackpool, England and is based
in Seattle. His work has been exhibited widely in the United
Kingdom and North America. Most recently, his exhibition
Sanctum was displayed at the Henry Art Gallery at the
University of Washington, Seattle and On Observing the
Observer of the Observers at the Phillips Museum of Art,