Text by CLOT Magazine
synthesis gallery presents Legacy by new media artist Nancy Baker Cahill. Legacy is synthesis’ first public art show opening on November 4, 2021, in Tempelhofer Feld (Berlin) and it will be on display until December 16, 2021.
Berlin has survived tumultuous change over the past century. The city has a distinct and multifaceted identity characterized by a history of cultural and political division, radical, trailblazing artists, calls for resistance, and an ongoing reshuffling of space and economies within the city. In Legacy, an original, animated, site-specific AR drawing in 360°, artist Nancy Baker Cahill aims to address the current threats of gentrification and climate change in Berlin while situating these challenges within the larger scope of the city’s past, present, and future.
Cahill’s new media work examines power, selfhood, and embodied consciousness through drawing and shared immersive space. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of 4th Wall, a free Augmented Reality (AR) art platform exploring resistance and inclusive creative expression.
The artist’s ethos and aims are well encapsulated in Legacy. Gentrification poses large and small violence to communities, history, culture and the city at large. Systemic gentrification has shaped living conditions and human geography of Berlin, seen from the displacement in eastern districts after the fall of the Berlin Wall to the increased development across the city, heightened in the past decade. Climate change simultaneously will transform the city yet again, causing an urban heat bubble effect, drought, and extreme weather. Certainly, both destabilizing systems have related effects: dismantling social structures and altering the cultural and social environment.
Originally commissioned by SXSW, the artwork illustrates the calamitous forces of dislocation and climate change by animating an abstracted tree as it twists, breaks apart, and coalesces. Formally the drawing transitions from organic bark-like marks to inorganic, metaphorically urban, glass and mirror fragments.
Using original digital mark-making to render organic forms underscores the artist’s intention to highlight unnatural developments of all kinds. Accessed via smartphones and tablets, the monumental drawing remains invisible to the naked eye and leaves no physical trace.
Legacy emerged from Baker Cahill’s intention to realize the synthesis of ideas, technology, and art to transform awareness about the urgent and interrelated effects of inequality and human-centred decision-making. The drawing attempts to push new media in uncharted directions and prompt discoveries related to the (re)evolution of nature and the accelerated consequences of human intervention and impact.