A description of the Digital Aura exhibition, with details on all four featured videos: (Modern) Formations II by Laura Hyunjhee Kim; Inextinguishable Fire by Cassils; I. by Adrian Regnier Chavez; and Threshold by Sanaz Mazinani.
Cassils Inextinguishable Fire, 2007-2015 Cassils’s Inextinguishable Fire (2007–15) is a performance for camera during which the artist attempts a Hollywood stunt known as a full body burn. Filmed at 1000 frames per second and rendered in extreme slow motion, the fourteen-second burn is extended to fourteen minutes of exquisite agony. A slow, outward zoom centers on Cassils’s expressionless gaze, reminding us that even in reproduction, aura can survive through the fleeting expression of a human face. At once indexing the seraph, the burning cross, self-immolation, and the phoenix, Inextinguishable Fire forms an ongoing gesture towards ritualistic cycles of trauma, resistance, and renewal in the face of oppressive forces.
Adrián Regnier Chávez 1., 2014 In Adrián Regnier Chávez’s I. (2014), feelings of existential awe emerge from the belittling, yet uncannily relaxing experience of nuclear apocalypse from a cosmic perspective. Narrated and subtitled in English by various android characters, and bracketed by passages in Russian, the experimental animation work calls to mind Cold War-era nuclear escalation as well as contemporary geopolitical realities. Thematic sections progress chromatically from green, to yellow, orange, and red, possibly in reference to the Homeland Security Advisory System’s color-coded threat levels, which indicated the likelihood and gravity of a potential terrorist attack. A final section, black, asks bleakly, “Didn’t we rejoice in hope and reason? ... Then, why can we still feel it burn?” Indeed, as foreshadowed in the epilogues of Benjamin’s essay, the paradox of technological progress is “humankind’s own annihilation as a supreme aesthetic pleasure.”