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Exhibition: ‘Real Feelings, Technology & Emotion’ at HeK Basel

Text by CLOT Magazine

Foreigner, Stine Deja (2018)

When we met Ariane Koek in January at a café in London, we could not imagine what the future had in store for us when we asked her about her plans. Six months later, a global pandemic and a worldwide lockdown is opening the exhibition Real Feelings: Technology and Emotion at HeK in Basel.

The exhibition, co-curated by Ariane Koek, Sabine Himmelsbach, and Angelique Spaninks, explores how emotions influence every aspect of our lives and shape our social behaviour. In the 21st century, emotions have increasingly come into focus – how they can be manipulated and controlled by technology because they influence our society and our lives.

In recent years, we have witnessed how technologies like artificial intelligence, virtual reality or machine learning can manipulate our emotions. These technologies are even creating new feelings, some of which we haven’t yet found the words to describe them. Fake news and deep fake videos posted on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter have aroused feelings of insecurity and hatred in society. While major technology companies try to manipulate how we behave by triggering our emotions every day through smartphones, laptops and personal devices. 

The barriers between human and machine, emotion and technology seem to be breaking down. Do we actually know how we really feel? Who is in control of our emotions now? Is technology beginning to influence how we feel? We will found out by exploring the work of 20 artists that range from artificial intelligence, interactive installations, robotics and biometrics to gaming, video installations, virtual reality and photography.

Some of these artists are well-known to CLOT’s audience, like French artist Antoine Catalá, American artist Lauren Lee McCarthy, and Italian artist Lorem.

Catalá is presenting Everything is Okay: Season 2 (2018) an installation that alludes to the increasing smartness of our homes; Lauren Lee McCarthy, in collaboration with Kyle McDonald, is presenting Vibe Check (2020), a commissioned for the exhibition that consists of a series of screens on which you see people portrayed in the exhibition to whom certain emotions are attributed.

For Adversarial Feelings (2019), Lorem utilises AI, particularly the deep learning method known as generative adversarial networks (GANs), to generate faces filled with emotions that challenge the definition.

Other names taking part in Real Feelings: Technology and Emotion are Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Esther Hunziker, Cécile B. Evans, Lucy McRae, Dani Ploeger and Shinseungback Kimyonghun, to name a few. 

Real Feelings: Technology and Emotion opens from August 27 to November 15, 2020. 

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(Media courtesy of HeK)

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