A somnambulant trip through fictional landscapes created with 3D scans of physical locations, set against the sounds of electroacoustic musician nara is neus.
Don’t You Recall? originated as a live audiovisual performance at the 2021 edition of MIRA Festival, Barcelona’s foremost digital arts festival, which saw electroacoustic musician nara is neus join forces with visual artist Sasha Smirnova. Set against selections from nara is neus’s new album ansatz, the performance consisted of a surreal journey through a series of computer-generated landscapes, patched together from 3D scans of the same physical spaces in which the sound was recorded. Melding reality and fiction, the two artists seek to open up discussion about the nature of digital reproductions of our surroundings in an attempt to define and develop the creative and democratic potential of emerging visual technologies.
“The democratisation of 3D scanning technology brings new creative possibilities,” explains Smirnova. “At the same time, it has popularised capturing of reality as a means of entertainment. For example, the 3D scanning app Polycam allows users to upload scans to the cloud and share it with other app users. In the same way as social media, the content sharing of this app is based on likes and followers. Following this development, widely available 3D scanning could change how we create and share memories and moments. If so, what would be the definition of 3D-scanned places? Would they be seen as just copies of reality? Or would they have values and characteristics to be categorised as new places altogether?”
In this single-channel iteration created for Fact, Smirnova guides us through three of these environments, each an intricate assemblage of CGI architecture and 3D scans – a chilly vista reminiscent of snow-capped mountains, a delicate sky cavern shifting in and out of phase with an aurora borealis and the skeletal remains of a building, adrift on the waters of a geometric alpine lake. At once fantastical and familiar, like the open world of a video game you used to play as a child, Don’t You Recall? plays with memory and digital reproduction, challenging preconceptions of quotidian space.
Gesturing towards a near future in which you might stumble across a 3D-mapped reproduction of the street you live on in someone else’s virtual reality, Don’t You Recall? sheds light on new possibilities for being in and exploring space, as well as the augmented forms of familiarity, nostalgia, otherness and hyperstition that this entails. Smirnova presents an architecture that is on the one hand data-driven and external while on the other enigmatic and internal, computer vision as seen through the eyes of the artist.