Telescreens – a phenomenological experiment?

Continuing my exploration of digital vs. analogue experienced lives ,I have constructed small sculptures as an experiment in phenomenology called Telescreens. These sculptures explore tangible experiences within the digital dystopia of our global lockdown and isolation.

The title “Telescreen” is derived from George Orwell’s dystopian vision of the future, 1984, where telescreens constantly broadcast and record… all the time!

Telescreen #1

“Day and night the telescreens bruised your ears with statistics proving that people today had more food, more clothes, better houses, better recreations—that they lived longer, worked shorter hours, were bigger, healthier, stronger, happier, more intelligent, better educated, than the people of fifty years ago.”

1984, George Orwell (1949)

Telescreen #2

Telescreens are the product of a personal journey. During these unprecedented times – where governments enforce curfews and lockdowns – we have been relegated to our homes. Physical contact between friends and family has been limited. I feel as if an invisible cocoon has been spun around myself and everyone else.

Telescreen #3

But, the virtual world, the world on information, disinformation and bad jokes exploded. Looking at my phone’s screen-time statistics, I am spending an average of three hours staring into this digitised abyss , which excludes my time working on the laptop. Anxiety and fear has taken hold. One reads about statistics and reports on the “second wave”, new lockdown regulations in Europe and how blasé our youth is about these regulations, effecting “super spreader events”.

I had to do something to break my mindset. I had to make art, to question myself and find a release.

Telescreen #4

Telescreens – utopia vs. distopia

These six new sculptures are a recurring theme on mass media and our herd mentality. As we stumble through endless prompts a predetermined filtered world emerges in the palms of our hands.

I can hear George Orwell have a good chuckle at his own uncanny prediction…

Telescreen #5

Never before has it been possible to gauge individual sentiment with pinpoint accuracy… An indispensable tool for any authority.

“Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters inside your skull.”
– 1984, George Orwell

Telescreen #6

Do not fear! The world is here, all around you. Forget the digital dystopia and look up to see the sun and clouds. Go outside tonight and find Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Feel the breeze and taste the air. The entire universe is here, where you sit, stand or lay. It is inside you!

Take the time to just look, to see the beauty of the seemingly mundane. How the light changes from sunrise to sunset… The texture of a stone… Birds singing, crickets chirping, children laughing…

Look into the widescreen surround sound experience our beautiful planet gives us every day!!

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Telescreens are part of the upcoming exhibition Fleeting Times with Angela Banks, Hanneke Benade, Jaco Benade, Lothar Böttcher and Kobus Russouw at the Association of Arts, Pretoria from the 5th to 21st November 2020.

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