The worm (2021)
British artist Ed Atkins is best known for his computer-generated videos that sentimentalize technology’s failings. During preparations for his current exhibition at the New Museum in New York, Atkins adjusted his plans to account for the shifts incitedby the pandemic. Centering the exhibition on how digitally mediated communication, while attempting to compensate for physical separation, also works to underscore absence, Atkins has described the exhibition as an “essay about distance.” Atkins’s edition for TEXTE ZUR KUNST features a detail from his latest video, “The worm,” the centerpiece of the New Museum show. The film depicts the artist – rendered as a kind of talk show host, and animated by the artist’s movements, captured using motion capture technology – while he speaks to his mother over the phone. The audio recording from that phone call supplies the film’s soundtrack, resulting in a kind of autofictional documentary. The edition, a close-up of Atkins’s computer-generated face looking right at the viewer, is printed to resemble a movie poster folded for distribution. The image’s hyperrealism – the smudges on his glasses, the finewrinkles of his skin – is both a consequence and a betrayal of this highly artificialmedium.