Installation, University Gallery, Gainesville, FL
The Ficial project is an ongoing project that revolves around the startup company, Ficial, which is devoted to transferring human consciousness into a virtual world. The business is described as a research organization dedicated to mastering evolution. Ficial was originally inspired by the WIP manifesto, Homo artificialis: Deconstruction of the Physical Self and Mass Actualization written by John ‘Feeshy’ Walker, which explores a technology induced evolution which will lead the Homo sapiens to evolve into Homo artificialis, a species that exists in digital space and visually presents themselves as stick figures. The stick figure itself is utilized as the idealized posthuman avatar in the new virtual world as it pays homage to the Homo genus from which the artificialis derive from. The stick figure also references the idea of dematerialization and rematerialization. The dematerialization references Claude Shannon’s Information theory which defines information as a “probability function with no dimensions, no materiality, and no necessary connection with meaning. It is only when the message is encoded with a signal for transmission through a medium, such as a visual construction of the self, does it rematerialize.” The stick figure avatar functions as a rematerialization of the most basics of Homo identity.
The installation was comprised of office cubicle corners, a coffee table, an iPad linked to a website, brochures, buttons, oil paintings, an oil pastel drawing, paper, and markers. The waiting room serves as a space for visitors to learn more about what the Ficial business is, wait for their consultation to ascend, or chat with a loved one who has already ascended (the only means of contacting loved ones who have already ascended is to come to the corporate office and communicate from a remote server). The waiting room being in an outdoor space references an attempt at bringing nature into the virtual world while also highlighting how terrible the IRL is. Gainesville, Florida is known for its frequent raining and over the course of the installation, the installation suffered damages – only highlighting the shittyness of the physical world. Visitors are offered several activities to engage with in the installation including a stick figure dress up game on the iPad, drawing a stick figure and hanging it up on the cubicle walls, engage with the Ficial website, or look through the brochures. Viewers are also encouraged to take a button with them as a commemoration of their time spent with Ficial.