Curated by Attilia Fattori Franchini, BMW Open Work is a major new initiative, annually inviting an artist to develop a project exploring current and future technologies as tools for innovation and artistic experimentation. Enhancing the long-term partnership between BMW and Frieze, BMW Open Work will launch at Frieze London 2017 with a new multi-platform commission by New York-based artist Olivia Erlanger. Entitled Body Electric, Erlanger's immersive work will unfold across physical spaces at the fair, as well as digital platforms.
Body Electric conjures fictional tales inspired by science-fiction, economic flows and integrated design. Bringing together digital and sculptural elements, the artwork will be triggered by viewers moving between spaces and devices.
Part of Erlanger's immersive installation will occupy the BMW Lounge at Frieze London. Three motion-sensitive benches—the oldest industrial element placed in public contexts—will act as an audio device, inviting audiences to sit and listen to real and fictional testimonies about an ecological event. A thick mist of fog and blue light will create an immersive atmosphere of limited visibility, constantly changing in response to oil price variations.
The second part of Body Electric will be experienced in the BMW Courtesy Car Service available at Frieze London 2017, where a selection of videos will visually extend the fictional testimonies. Finally this website, operates as the project's final landing platform where all the different elements of the project become visible at once.
Drawing inspiration from current and future technologies, Body Electric speculates on the changing relationship between humans and their environment, as an increasingly unpredictable natural world mediates and distorts our bodily experience.
For information about the commission and programme click here.
Curated by Attilia Fattori Franchini, BMW Open Work annually invites an artist to develop a visionary project that creates an immersive experience for the viewer. Drawing inspiration from BMW design and engineering, the commissioned artists will consider current and future technologies as tools for innovation and artistic experimentation. The initiative's title Open Work is inspired by Umberto Eco's literary essay "Opera Aperta" (1962) which proposes the idea that artworks are constituted in part by the public or by chance, and are therefore open to a wide range of interpretations.
I write knowing I will have to hide this. The situation I am living is not what I think it is.
Where to begin...
The habits of our lives make us presume that things will happen in a certain foreseeable way, that there will be a vague coherence. This is my attempt to leave a description for the attentive, to obtain a list of objects, situations, facts about a reality that appears to be changed.
I can hear the sound of many footsteps, upstairs and downstairs, are they fading away? I’ll write quicker. Or is that machinery? I can hear the hum of it, a ghost machine. It reminds me of a game I used to play when I was little, I’d look at the pictures in my books and stare at them for a long time, new objects kept appearing in endless succession.
Of course, I have no measuring device.
The appearances and disappearances, the disruptions and ruptures, almost everything in fact does have an explanation. Look left.
AGENT: Testimony 4911 this is.... Ma’am what would you like me to call you?
THE DRIFTER: Misters fine. I don’t believe in the government, and I don’t believe in you, and your authority over me.
AGENT: Let’s start with where you are from.
THE DRIFTER: Nowhere, everywhere.
AGENT: Where exactly were you yesterday at 2pm?
THE DRIFTER: The location of the body I currently inhabit was approximately three feet away from the site - the test site, the orchard.
AGENT: Are you referring to the Professor's home?
THE DRIFTER: They are liars. I am a ghost.
AGENT: What do you mean?
THE DRIFTER: I have seen their Lab but you see, I have got death inside me. They are distorting firmament. They are implanting, incepting, impregnating, they are breathing fire and digesting air.
Tubes, wires, rivets, engines, whirling through the night into the ground.
AGENT: Who is “they”?
THE DRIFTER: The family. The parents and child.
This family is the cradle of the world’s misinformation.
Melded from noise and the heat of being.
Perhaps even something deeper like the need to survive
Small errors grow heads, fictions proliferate. Not to know is a weapon of survival.
Magic and superstition become entrenched as orthodoxy of the clan.
The family is strongest where reality is most likely to be misinterpreted.
AGENT: Are you referring to the family?
THE DRIFTER: Yes. They make their own disasters.
AGENT: What kind of disasters do they make?
THE DRIFTER: We all devise our own demise.
They build machine for distortions. I saw it when it all started.
Disguise is how we survive; this is the nature of our species.
AGENT: And how did you end up here?
THE DRIFTER: Hotwired this old thing. Call it a P.O.S. so no one misses it.
They never use it. But they can’t see anymore. They’ve lost their sight for reading truth.
Now all they see is ruined. Bought in and got sucked up.
AGENT: What is the nature of your work?
ELI: BlackBrick funds my research in conjunction with the University.
AGENT: What is it that you study?
ELI: I’m not at liberty to say.
AGENT: How long have you been here?
ELI: My whole life. I was born here.
I went to study in the East, but came back afterwards because my father caught MSTB and I began my first project here, probably in 1998 or 1999.
AGENT: Where were you around 2pm yesterday?
ELI: I was in the Orchard. Jo had just buzzed to say she was walking down
Charli was with Bones, she was supposed to be doing chores.
Or that is what she said at least; I can not keep track of that kid anymore.
Electrifying but exhausting. Jo had buzzed.
I looked at the clock then, it was approximately 1:57pm and it is… approximately a 30 minutes decontamination process.
AGENT: What is the decontamination process?
ELI: The Lab is completely sealed, certified. Impossible for even a fly to zip in or out.
It is also completely even, creates its own atmosphere.
We don’t used recycled air. I can’t stand the taste.
AGENT: Why decontaminate?
ELI: According to the regulations of the space, I must decontaminate and seal upon every entry and departure. It’s a formality at this point -there are seven layers of mirrored titanium seals- but I never skip the process.
I am overly cautious...and I love the smell of bleach.
AGENT: Did you see anything?
ELI: Seeing is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what the others see.
We have agreed to be part of a collective perception.
It literally colors our vision. But I am trained to notice the unusual.
The temperature of the soil in the orchard, was consistent within the range of the season.
The atmosphere was equally as “normal”. But what is normal anyways?
AGENT: Did you witness anything out of the ordinary?
ELI: When you are always out looking for things, because they are so fleeting and unpredictable, you become hypersensitive. I notice the evolution constantly.
AGENT: Did you have a sense of what was happening outside?
ELI: I am a witness every day. It is my profession to measure the meteorological against the metaphysical against the mechanic.
The greater the scientific advance, the more primitive the fear.
AGENT: Testimony number 5014 Daniel and Karina.
Let’s start with the nature of your trip through Farmdale.
KARINA: We were just passing through, we have been on a road-trip through, like, the great American, I don’t know what.
DANIEL: We were really just passing through.
Neither of us knew the name of where we were.
In this thing you just put in the location and you know let the machine take you.
City kids, can you tell?
AGENT: Was there anything unusual about the drive yesterday?
KARINA: Unusual? That area is a sea of ordinariness. Or more like a desert.
DANIEL: I think, what Karina is trying to say, is that it is like a million of other places we have already seen, strip malls or small shops, main streets and little squares.
And then you hit nothingness, just fields, plains, hills and fields again.
KARINA: Plain is the perfect word.
AGENT: Can you remember anything else before the incident in question?
DANIEL: Nothing unusual (thinking) but, the smell. I think that was a bit weird.
We thought it was the car, at first.
KARINA: It was sulfuric and ashy…, burnt like old cigarettes.
I just thought maybe we were next to a landfill.
We have seen so many post-industrial cemeteries on our trip and they always have an odd taste in the water and scent in the air. It hurt my head a bit.
GETS CUT OFF
DANIEL: Karina is sensitive to barometric shifts. She gets migraines.
AGENT: Were you getting a migraine?
KARINA: No. No migraine. This was something different.
DANIEL: As much as we had tried to escape we both have a lot of work.
I didn’t see or hear anything at first. It was right after she had untinted windows.
I remember hearing you say something, and then, once everything was clear outside, it was when we saw what was happening.
AGENT: What did you see?
KARINA: We were at the bottom of a hill and in front of us a deep light was moving towards us in the sky.
DANIEL: We tried to turnaround or at least to stop but it was unresponsive.
KARINA: It was as if we were being dragged forward by a magnet.
DANIEL: We were being dragged forward towards a blue light.
KARINA: It was a vacuum, I felt like we were getting sucked into it.
DANIEL: Around us everything was flying.
First the wind brought leaves and tree branches, then mailboxes and potted plants.
The fence ahead, down the road, began to be ripped up.
We got out immediately. The marshland on the left was churning next to us.
KARINA: A kid and older woman, maybe her mother, ran across the road into the woods on the right.
DANIEL: A ringing was in the air, almost as if a transmitter went haywire.
KARINA: I still hear it. But we saw the kid and woman and followed them.
Running between trees, crushing through underbrush.
We ran and ran until the ringing stopped.
AGENT: Suzanne, are you ready?
SUZANNE: Okay. You want me to start at the beginning, well I would like to say that I’m very well aware of my rights, thank you very much.
I have been an advocate in Farmdale for twenty years…
AGENT: This isn’t for court use. Just our records.
SUZANNE: Oh, it’s just for your records, okay. Yes. I understand; I know the law.
I turn sixty two tomorrow and I was out running errands for our party.
I always throw myself a great party. I’m the head of the neighborhood watch and I run my own business, a little spiritual center, off the main street.
SAYS AS AN ASIDE
I’ve had the gift since I was twelve.
They always come to my parties because half of the town sees me.
They are very superstitious here, there is lots of magic.
AGENT: When did you notice a change in your surroundings?
SUZANNE: I was about to tell you...
It’s important to celebrate life right? We celebrate death every day.
As soon as I look at my phone or turn on the TV, it is right there!
People glorify the dead but I celebrate the living.
AGENT: And, when was it that you noticed a change outside?
SUZANNE: I would rather drive twenty-two miles around the country, otherwise the parking lots and these little strip malls- it all looks the same.
It’s just at this time of day and year, dusk, that’s just the most beautiful.
And I like to be alone in it. Something lonely to the bone.
AGENT: Yes. Could you describe more about what you saw?
SUZANNE: If my truck hadn’t broken down, well, I probably would have driven straight into where it touched. I had overheated the engine so I pulled over, nearly off High Point Road.
I always get a funny feeling in my left leg at first, when I am with my clients.
It starts to tingle on my ankle then up my thigh.
AGENT: Suzanne, what did you see?
SUZANNE: I’m suspicious of everything, by nature. That was the color in the sky.
There’s never been such a color except for when my sight comes.
There were all these fluffy clouds, but then, they sort of went zig-zaggy, and then just totally grey. Maybe not grey but almost pearlescent... unnatural.
AGENT: What happened next?
SUZANNE: I felt light headed and backed up against the truck.
I backed up after I saw the light growing.
It was growing low in the sky right from the tree line. Like a vine, a wisteria vine.
MAKES JIGGLING SOUND
AGENT: Can you remember anything else? Sounds, smells?
SUZANNE: I felt a dampness in the air.
The air was sagging and pressing down onto me, as the wind picked up around my feet.
I don’t remember when the trees fell. I shut my eyes because of the light.
It sounded like the AOL open line buzz. It was so loud I dropped to my knees. I couldn’t run. It was a Chinese maple with purple black leaves.
When the tree fell, the black leaves were falling everywhere.
AGENT: Did you come here on your own?
SUZANNE: The scientists kid. That maple tree is on the edge of their property.
We’ve changed so much already; it would be nice to just leave things be.
I was numb but I remember all the leaves.
Disoriented, I felt a hand on my arm.
A little hand.
AGENT: Charli my name is Agent ------.
CHARLI: Hi. Can I see my mom? Why isn’t Mom with me? Is my dad here too?
AGENT: Both are here and you can be with them in a moment.
CHARLI: Am I, am I in trouble?
AGENT: No, we just want to know what you saw.
CHARLI: don’t know what I saw.
AGENT: How you would describe it?
AGENT: Where were you when you saw it?
CHARLI: I was on the porch. We were going to go to the tire swing.
I am kind of grounded and they took away my phone.
Yeah, no phone sucks. My friends probably were wondering where I was.
I was going to the tire swing in the back. I like putting my belly on it and twist it up so I spin really fast.
AGENT: Who is we?
CHARLI: I was with Doggo and Bones, my dogs. They were on the porch with me.
AGENT: Did you go to the swing?
CHARLI: No, my Mom left earlier to go to work with Dad in the Lab.
I was trying to give Bones a treat, calling at him “Bones... Bones”
But he wouldn’t come to me. He just kept backing up, sniffing the air and barking.
It was weird.
AGENT: Then what did you see?
CHARLI: There was a flash
AGENT: What do you mean?
CHARLI: Like a firework.
And then there was a glow after, it was so foggy over the trees.
It was right above the orchard. The fog wasn’t moving it just stayed there.
CHARLI: I got dizzy and I shut my eyes, my ears kept ringing.
Like after a really loud sound, except this buzzed on and on. Bones and Doggo licked my face.
AGENT: Was there a scent?
CHARLI: Like a smell? It smelled like the way the clippings do when they rot at the end of Fall, when everything goes to sleep.
My Dad leaves the clippings in piles so they decompose.
AGENT: Can you remember what happened next?
CHARLI: The wind picked up and the dogs were barking.
The air started to buzz.
The dogs were barking and then Bones took off. Towards the road.
I think I was yelling when I started running after him but there was no sound.