In today’s technology three little ellipses signify that a digital message is in-suspension across the channels of communication and soon to come your way. In that moment of suspension – the sense of waiting for the impending message – there is both the fragile apprehension of what is to come and the insatiable desire for more and faster messaging.
This world of new communication has inspired Suspension Points, a new exhibit at the Ildiko Butler Gallery on display through Jan. 25, 2015 in the lobby of the Lowenstein Center on Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus. The show came about through a collaboration among students from Fordham University and Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, who have used different modes of correspondence—from the antiquated to the contemporaneous—to explore the vagaries of communication in contemporary life.
The universities have been partner institutions, said show’s co-organizor Casey Ruble, artist-in-residence at Fordham, and the schools thought it might be a good idea to extend the partnership to the arts programs.
“The show idea came out of the first question Mark and I asked each other, which was: How should we do this? (The implicit options being via email, Instagram, postal mail, etc.),” said Ruble. “It wasn’t too much a leap to then realize that it would be interesting to have the groups of students work in different communication formats.”
Students were partnered across the two hemispheres and 16 time zones based on their compatibility of communication format choices, which included Instagram, Twitter, Skype, Facebook, email, postal mail, and message in a bottle.
“The resulting works sometimes directly acknowledge the communication format used, but other times don’t; we really wanted to give the students full freedom to take the projects in their own directions, and that they did, often to surprising and enlightening effect,” she said.
Across an ocean, some students became close to their partners; others strove for a connection that never materialized. Speaking to both the possibilities and limitations of the ways we attempt to make contact with others, Suspension Points marks a moment in time when distance seems both nominal and vast, said Ruble.
The project was co-organized by Ruble and Mark Pennings, senior lecturer at Queensland University of Technology.
Read more about the project here.
— Janet Sassi