, Modal Gallery, School of Digital Arts, Manchester Metropolitan University
The School of Digital Arts (SODA)’s new exhibition space Modal opened its doors with an inaugural exhibition in June, entitled ‘SlipStreamSlip. Resistance and Velocity in Game Engine Culture’, curated by Valentino Catricalà. Through video installations, audio-visual works, multiplayer experiences and virtual reality, the exhibition explores the ongoing digitization of our societies and how game engine culture has impacted our relationship to images, sounds and interactivity. The exhibition features work by nine prominent international artists: Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Auriea Harvey, Cécile B. Evans, Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Jenna Sutela, Joshua Citarella, Juan Cortés, Lu Yang, Rachel Maclean, and DIS. With 2D and 3D computer graphics created with technologies such as Unity and Unreal engine software, their artistic investigations are pushing the boundaries of contemporary art, changing the rules of the game and creating a new playground for art.
Their technology infused contemporary art practices exist at the intersection between real life and simulated worlds. Rachel Maclean’s ‘I’m Terribly Sorry’, a virtual reality experience, is set in a dystopian British urban landscape filled with oversized Union Jack-emblazoned tourist merchandise. The user is approached by several privileged city dwellers whose heads are large smartphones. Initially benign and apologetic, they tell convoluted stories and attempt to elicit money, with their protestations soon becoming more sinister.
Modal encompasses an open plan gallery, cinema space, VR/XR studio, a large screen digital hall, and a striking, multi-story LED façade on the outside of the building. It is an exciting new space at one of Europe’s most advanced digital arts schools, dedicated to working with artists at the forefront of creative technology.