Hollow Tongues

2017 - VR and sound installation
(Velvet curtains, carpet, cushions, Oculus Rift, sweets, speakers)

Project by (play)ground-less: María Angélica Madero, Ninna Bohn Pedersen, Sarah Bayliss and Belén Zahera.

Commissioned by Itinerant Assembly for Gasworks London
Funded by RCA and ACE
Special thanks to:
Werkflow (VR environment development)
Dane Law (Audio piece)

Hollow Tongues takes the form of an installation in the gallery space (RR) and a Virtual Reality environment accessible through two Oculus Rift. Both spaces—the real and the virtual—are connected by an audio piece created by Dane Law (Adam Parkinson) and fragments of live spoken word delivered by the artists.

Hollow Tongues was conceived as a VR project whose distinctive feature lay in its performative dimension and anti-realist approach. Comprised of videos, images, 3d modeling, animations, text in the form of subtitles and live spoken word, the VR environment resembled a sort of theatrical stage whose scenes and narrative were activated remotely by the artists from four different locations. The performative nature of the project alongside the eerie visual and discursive content step back from slick and perfected representations of reality in order to reveal an interest in human failure, appearances, fragmentation and the imaginative potential of technology. In other words, it was not solely a virtual environment, but a connective platform whose nature was change.

Central to the project is the idea of the materiality of language explored through the interplay of two figures or tropes, the hollow and the tongue, which in different ways point to the notion of a meaningless and superficial yet embodied and located language; a language that is not only fluid communication, meaning and form but also something experiential, tasty, persuasive and deceptive.

The tongue as both an organ of speech and a word that refers to a particular language works here as a metaphor of language production and the ghostly presence of technology: a detached bodily element that relates to the diverse provenance of the artists, all having different mother tongues and working across great distances from each other. This way, the tongue turns into a strange and isolated body, a muscle and a slimy materiality living its own life, in the same way as language undergoes changes through the use we make of it.

Amongst others, the narrative (VR) and the installation (RR) ambush on questions such as technology as a new language, language as representation, virtuality as escapism, inverted spaces, negative space in virtuality, tasting, testing, experience.

In terms of architecture we worked with revealing and concealing, with dead-ends and different levels of privileged views, both in the RR installation as well as in the communicative and networked structure upholding the narrative performance. Viewers could hear parts of the narrative in the RR, but only in the VR get the full picture. The artists themselves, performing and authoring the narrative, but never able to experience the installation being located physically in other countries.

Art collective based in Madrid, Bogotá, Copenhagen and London. Their being-in-relation evolves through changing media and technology, following a method based on tactics and conversations from which their work unfolds. With an interest in tactility and language their practice delves into ideas of play, non-knowledge and improvisation.

This work was shown in “Resolution is not the point”, Photo50, London Art Fair, London, 2018, Hollow Tongues, Gasworks Gallery, London, 2016 and Odeón Intensivo, Espacio Odeon, Bogota, 2019