by Vatsala SethiSep 21, 2022
Living in the 21st century, it is safe to say that we are slaves to our screens. As a result, we find ourselves at the receiving end of a never-ending stream of visual stimulus. Our habits and thoughts have been pushed and pulled through a thick filter of information, which has shaped our perception and subsequently created a perceived reality. Now, to be fair, all realities are perceived and arguably constructed to be advantageous to particular groups of society. To examine and understand the human brain, using the human brain as a tool might seem like a paradox but until we have access to alien records (assuming they even find us worth studying), all we have left is each other. While some may look to philosophy, sociology and psychology to grapple with the mystery of our own psyches, I have always found that an informed artistic practitioner can relay that same information layered with enough abstraction to allow for personal engagement so that the viewer may take a way to learning, thought or idea which is truly their own. Unlike art from hundreds of years ago, artists today present work which is related to current events and ideas and addressed directly by the artist more often than not. This allows for us to seek out art as though it were an education by itself. Barak Chamo, emerging artist in the landscape of Brooklyn, channels his own education and process of learning into his most recent body of work, titled Sheer Appearances, his first solo exhibition, which is currently on display at Chashama in New York.
Chamo, thanks to his parents, was exposed to the creative world when he was just a young child. He experimented with and learned to play a number of music instruments and cultivated a deep appreciation for arts. However, he did not pursue art as part of his education and ended up with a career in software engineering. It took a few years of work in the industry till Chamo, in his words, “learned the realities of the tech world” and began to search for a more creative outlet for his technical skills. He says, “It all seems destined now but really it was just a series of happy encounter with the creative possibilities of technology that led me here. From a coding retreat at the Recurse Center to coming across truly inspiring digital art on a trip to Asia to stumbling across New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program's Spring Show…”. Soon after, Chamo signed up for the NYU ITP Program and began his journey into the world of technology once more, except this time through the eyes of an artist. Deconstructing, repurposing and experimenting with virtual reality, artificial intelligence and robotics gave Chamo a new way to play with technology and continue to be inspired by it as a medium.
In his first solo show Sheer Appearances, Chamo brings a series of installations, which are pluralist in their media but singular in the message. In an interview with STIR, Chamo says, “The exhibition is really all about perception and its limits, proposing alternate modes of seeing, as both individuals and cultures and drawing a continuum between the physical senses and our collective social awareness”. The upcoming artist uses photography, light installation and sculpture to engage the viewer in an experience which leads them to question the visible and invisible aspects of our irrevocably intertwined relationship with technology. Chamo immerses himself into researching “the implications of the technological acceleration of our culture and the role media played in narrowing our social experience in a direction that is very much aligned with values of production and consumption,” challenging the economy of technology itself.
Barak Chamo’s exhibition titled Sheer Appearances was on display from March 3-March 22, 2020.