writings, projects and exhibitions of Clarissa Chikiamco

Monday, April 2, 2007


The piece below was the exhibition text for the Ilusyonada exhibit of Mica Cabildo, AJ Omandac, CJ Robles and Ray Zapanta at Chungky Far Flung, Marikina Shoe Expo, Araneta Center, Cubao (Chunky is now closed. Please see my piece "Death of an Independent Art Space?" published last 29 January 2007) in November 2006.


Virtual (adj.) – near, practical, effective, fundamental, essential, implicit, cyber

– actual (antonym)

(adj.) – fake, replicated, pretend, imitation, virtual, computer-generated

– genuine (antonym)

(n.) – realism, actuality, authenticity, truth, certainty, veracity

Ilusyonada is an examination on the virtual reality of the 21st century society. Advancements in technology have created new pathways of communication, altering social interactions and modes of relations while depreciating physical contact and tangible exchanges. It is a world present human civilization is becoming increasingly dependent upon and engulfed in, threatening to absorb the susceptible into its folds of codes (or rather, its emoticon embrace?).

Filipinos have particularly latched on to it because of their non-confrontational nature (text over calls have made the Philippines the texting capital of the world). But on a global scale, those especially taking on to the cyber network are the young who easily adapt to and mold their own language. The youth, who are also in the midst of questioning and forming their self-identity, use technology to create, define and enhance their individualities (Friendster, Myspace, Multiply, blogsites, etc.). Some use it to hide behind masks, to create and present themselves in a way they wish to be perceived in face-to-face encounters while others are able to reveal their true selves in the absence of peer pressure and physical bias.

Technology has frankly become the system by which people today create and broaden their space, without having to leave the house or the internet cafe. A few clicks open users to a whole network: to online communities with shared interests and shared purposes (dating anyone?), to instant news and information (subscription to newspapers have been declining as more people read up online), to worlds of fantasy and desire (RPGs, MMORPGs, RTS, CORG, porn), to simply keeping in touch with loved ones abroad and next door (or in the next room). Does technology isolate or augment? What has become dominant? Man or machine?

It is in this context that AJ Omandac, Mica Cabildo, Ray Zapanta and CJ Robles use traditional art media to scrutinize the culture of new media. Inappropriate? Maybe so. Yet, both virtual reality and the painted image are a veneer to something esoteric and multi-faceted, with meanings general and personal to creator and audience. Technology is bringing so many means in which to communicate. But behind the sleekness, the faster-than-whippet quickness, the shimmery glaze of the screens is the mirrored truth: that reality is simply what we make of it.

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