By Á.R. Vázquez-Concepción
What does “a living body archive” constitute? An experience about a physical body or its traces? Documentation of a body like in forensic medicine? Or maybe an assemblage of illustrations about its functions, akin to the medical reference book Gray’s Anatomy? Could it include all of these? None? These are some of the questions that may run through your mind as you hear the name of the most recent exhibition of the work of multimedia artist Amanda Turner Pohan at City Limits Gallery, in Oakland, California.
In reality, the exhibition The Living Body Archive of Linqox Criss is a mise-en-scène; a “period room” without a fixed “there”; a three-dimensional rendering of a cybernetic mausoleum inhabited by the “indebted ghost” addressed as Linqox Criss.
But who is Linqox Criss?
They are a character in the Second Life gaming platform, launched in 2003 in San Francisco, one of 21.5 million avatars brought on to a cybernetic world of interactive play. Linqox was created by a person known unto us the public only as “MF,” approximately eight and half years ago. MF explains how and why he created Linqox Criss through a video, which is presented in a television screen that is fixed to the ceiling and which you can watch by laying down on a block of EconoFlex™ C55 Medium-Firm Foam.
Linqox Criss exists within Second Life’s servers as the owner of an apartment building, who after going into debt turned to BDSM cyber-sex work. In this new virtual profession, the user/avatar spent lots of time “buying and scripting virtual clothes, sex organs, bondage gear, and beauty enhancements,” the exhibition text explains. “These two bodies, one virtual, one physical, are living archives of technologies for subjectivity production,” it concludes. These bodies are a reflection of each other and the way in which both can be/are affected by formidable abstract forces like capitalist ambitions and financial anxieties, discipline and control apparatuses, sexual fantasies, and the monetization of emotional experiences.
Above: VIDEO, digital video on 32 inch LED Monitor
It is important to note that today only about 60,000 users are reported as active in Second Life, meaning millions have been abandoned and left idle inside electronic purgatory —a place where you are “alive” but as in limbo are “inactive.”
In The Living Body Archive of Linqox Criss, the white cube acts as an extension of the virtual world; it becomes a plane where the simulated and the real meet head-on; a place where we can interact with Linqox and traces of their body. We can even sense their sensuousness by way of their compelling fragrance, diffused throughout the gallery space by evaporative air coolers.
This “period room” by Amanda Turner Pohan is reminiscent of the machine aesthetics of the Dadaists short of a hundred years ago, in particular of the work known to us as The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, or The Large Glass, made between 1915-23, by Marcel Duchamp. Pohan’s installation, like Duchamp’s expanded painting, addresses in a schematic form a chain of impulses and responses that aim to represent the variability and unpredictability of courtship.
Moreover, MF’s female alter-ego Linqox Criss remits to Duchamp’s Rose Sélavy.
The powers of sex, economy, and technology are analyzed by Pohan in this exhibition, who like Duchamp in The Large Glass creates an assemblage of images and objects that depict not physical entities but interactions among mechanical and erotic forces. Pohan’s Linqox Criss, like Duchamp’s Bride (the superior glass panel), is a machine endowed with the power to seduce —and they seek to seduce us through a conceptual display that ostensibly situates the visitor within their reach, in the uncanny valley between the organic and the machinic/digital.
The Living Body Archive of Linqox Criss, by Amanda Turner Pohan, will be on view at City Limits Gallery until November 19, 2016.
Amanda Turner Pohan (USA, 1985) completed her BFA from The School of Visual Arts and her MFA from Hunter College. As an extension of her art practice, Pohan is a co-founder of Temporary Agency, an artist-run nomadic platform for exhibitions and publications, as well as The Bakery Social Club, a monthly gathering for artists and designers.
Here some installation shots courtesy of Evan Reiser, from City Limits Gallery: