Water as a vessel. Water as a life source. Water as our composition. Our bodies as water and bodies of water. This interactive web video reflects on water as a precious commodity.
A plastic, disposable water bottle is a vessel. One that has value—is vital to survival, yet only attainable to an elite few. Capitalism has brought us to a point where we bottle up a critical naturally occurring resource and sell it. Under the domain of capitalism, commodities are not produced for the sake of consumption but for the sake of profit. The aspiration is the expansion of business (thus, profit) while value is merely a by-product.
This web video explores the idea of potable water hidden away and only attained through a series of obstacles. Once these obstacles are overcome, precious water is found within a valuable vessel—a locket. A symbol of wealth, jewelry that holds within it a treasure, an extravagant bottle of water. Once the viewer attains the potable watery gem, the video poses a prompt to begin the process again—reflecting on the cyclical nature of capitalism. The interminable quest to be able to afford basic life necessities; the eternal labor required to earn money to exchange for goods. What historical events have led to an essential source of life that makes up the majority of our own bodily composition being transformed into a commodity? What steps need to be taken to dismantle this system—is it even possible?
PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT by Anneli Goeller
I see the Internet as a platform for widespread global participation, participation that extends beyond usual channels of communication.
I will host a performative event where visitors are able to collaboratively interact with the web video. After visitors interact with the video simultaneously, I will moderate an educational webinar featuring one invited digital artist and one scientist from The European Costal Union. This panel will facilitate discourse regarding the dialectical and cyclical nature of capitalism and the role commodification of natural resources has had on our economic system.
I will host an online and in-person open call for ideas about further levels to this interactive web game. I will host polls on social media and invite in-person visitors to type in their contributions. This feedback will be streamed in a simultaneously virtual and physical program. The most popular ideas will be incorporated as levels into the web game and revealed through another group interaction.
I will disseminate a call for proposals responding to the prompt: How can digital world simulations propose a new future? The winner will have the opportunity to present their proposal through an in-person or webinar event, depending on their location.
As the work continues to unfold it extends into two related yet disparate trajectories. It has been and continues to be about defining queer narratives within the digital realm and determining the point at which the boundaries between the virtual and corporeal collapse.
One trajectory revolves around manipulating the self-image in a way that causes it to lose its original, trivial meaning and become an empowering symbol of queer identity. Mathematically attached and layered into the curves of digital landscapes or 3D scanned as the basis of a parafictional persona, the self-image uncovers the ways in which we are all complicit in performing our identities for the viewing pleasure of others. The boundaries of identity can be further explored within the context of the virtual as a queer arena.
The second trajectory exaggerates the inherent artificiality of 3D modeling software through undulating environments, often composed of water. By alluding to elements of the natural world this work offers an alternative to reality: one that encompasses both the surreal and the real. Water retains its presence in reality no matter how much it is virtually altered. Liquid ripples continuously, refracting infinitely in windows that mirror the duality of the human perspective and the digital screen. The combination of natural elements and imaginary forms deteriorates the distinction between physical and virtual—not wholly one nor the other, but both.
Anneli Goeller lives and works in Chicago and New York. She is a 2019 MFA candidate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and received her BFA with honors from Parsons The New School for Design in 2015. Using new media, Goeller probes the virtual and physical divide and seeks to expand the dichotomy between corporeal and digital bodies while highlighting the potential of digital space as a queer arena. Her work has been exhibited internationally at The Wrong – New Digital Art Biennale, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, Greenpoint Open Studios, Gallery MC and A.I.R. Gallery, in New York, Peripheral Forms in Portland, Lithium Gallery in Chicago as well as the Palazzo dei Cartelloni in Florence.