The Cabinet of Endangered And Emerging Species

Carla Gannis’s wwwunderkammer project is inspired by the sixteenth century Wunderkammer, also called "Cabinets of Curiosity” as well as the contemporary social media practice of creating archives and collections on sites like Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr. Through this project Gannis is considering the uncanny complications of grounded reality and virtual reality, while building virtual worlds, founded upon de-colonizing, post-human, and feminist archives. The traditional Wunderkammer, as precursors to museums, most often took up entire rooms that were filled with art, antiques, natural specimens, scientific instruments collected from the far reaches of the globe, and often combining fact with fantasy.

In Gannis’s www + wunderkammer, the artist has collected and created remixes of physical objects and 3D virtual objects from across the global internet representing topics of interest: endangered species, emerging species,and climate change; politics, networks, and digital semiotics; decolonization and global pluralism; humor as salve and feminist salvation; obsolete and emerging technologies; and sex and comfort in tech. There is also a small library including book titles by Doris Lessing, Ursula K. LeGuin, Octavia Butler, Toni Morrison, and Mary Shelley. Embedded in every cabinet and as texture maps on creatures and environments, there is imagery generated by the Playform AI platform. For over a year, Gannis trained this AI with image data sets on all the categories aforementioned.

Gannis references early science-fiction films, as well as art, literature and gaming throughout wwwunderkammer, but the overall scope of the project owes a great to Margaret Cavendish’s novel, The Blazing World (1666) the first science-fiction/fantasy work written by a woman. Cavendish conceived of art as a way to construct private symbolic spaces – worlds of one’s own – and she saw speculative fiction, in particular, as a way to imagine a future with more fluid gender and cultural identities. Through her cabinet of curiosities, Gannis is similarly cultivating the transformative potential in speculative invention, revealing the uncanny underdetermination of the world in her virtual realities and moving image works, while conversely calling attention to the virtual – as culture, fantasy, and ideology, as much as technology – already at work in the everyday.

wwwunderkammer exists as a physical installation of sculptural objects and print works; a desktop and social VR experience (both represented by Telematic Media Arts, San Francisco, CA); and as a series of videos on view here at Sedition Art.

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