Head Space

Interview with Ed Atkins for Frieze

In conversation with Ed Atkins for Frieze Magazine, September 2014

Still from Ed Atkins' Ribbons

I meet with Ed Atkins in a side room of Cabinet, a London gallery close to the cluster of tech start-ups around the Old Street roundabout. As a science fiction writer, I’m interested in how technology is changing us, and how art is tracking those changes. Atkins’s video work ‘Ribbons’ (2014) – which, on different screens, formed the heart of his recent untitled solo exhibition at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London – follows the self-debasement of a naked, tattooed, computer-generated avatar as it puts away the fags and booze with abandon. It speaks with Atkins’s voice.

The avatar can play the doppelgänger, unleashing the dark self. The troll. The hater. But ‘Ribbons’ also explores how we are in a feedback loop with technology. At the entrance to the Serpentine exhibition, a screen showed a computer-generated head bouncing endlessly down a flight of stairs; it created a grisly punctuation. The loop is a signature of our times, whether in musical beats or GIFS. The loop is repetition, over and over again in the now. It’s very important to be kept in the loop.

Read the conversation at Frieze

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