The photo was taken inside a factory where LED screens are made in Shanghai, China
The photo was taken inside a factory where LED screens are made in Shanghai, China. It shows the interior of a warehouse where the manufacture of the screens is completed and they are packaged. In the background, there is a wall with three large windows of different sizes. A curtain is drawn over one of the windows, the blinds are partially lowered. Outside, it is dark, as night has fallen. In the centre of the image is a large LED screen that has been switched on. It is positioned horizontally on a table. There is no image on it, its surface is white, you can make out the design of a grid. The screen is surrounded by large tables with bits of paper and boxes of various sizes on them. Transparent sheets of plastic seem to emerge from inside some of the boxes. Near the screen is a young woman. She is standing, staring towards the camera through glasses with thick lenses. The screen illuminates her face and part of her body, which is half-hidden behind the table. She is wearing a green sports jacket with dark shoulders. One her hands is touching the screen and the other her stomach.
The research was conducted based on the Alibaba online e-commerce platform and explored the logics of communication that emerge from it. The aim was to analyse the exchange of information mediated by algorithms that seek to determine every type of interaction and hence every type of affect. The research was exhaustive and began with tentative contact and exchanges with Sunny Zhu, a commercial agent for a technology company in Shanghai, and his avatar. To an extent, they embodied the control that social media companies exercise over reality, deciding what type of information and what kind of image we are able to access. The almost fortuitous encounter with an enigmatic and heartrending image was the catalyst for the sculptural group that seeks to explore the logics of the affects and of memory which, in a way, survive the barrenness of contemporary images.
Julia Varela (Madrid, 1986) has been a part of the Critical Images research programme at the Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm. She holds a BA in Fine Arts and a Master of Arts (Sculpture), awarded by the Royal College of Art, London. Her most recent exhibitions have been held at the Centre Cívic Can Felipa, Barcelona; Galería Joan Prats, Barcelona; Centro de Cultura Contemporánea Condeduque, Madrid; Fundació Suñol, Barcelona; Somerset House, London; Belgrade Cultural Centre; lítost, Prague; Decad, Berlin; Yamakiwa Gallery, Japan; Museum of Contemporary Art KIASMA, Helsinki; Galleri Mejan, Stockholm; Resartis, Melbourne; La Casa Encendida, Madrid; Kunstverein am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin; and the CUL DE SAC Gallery, London. Her research has been supported by a number of institutions and galleries, among them the Generalitat de Catalunya; Spanish Ministry of Culture; Chelsea Arts Club Trust London; Fundación MonteMadrid; and the Museum of Contemporary Art KIASMA, Helsinki. In the field of art education, she realised a master’s degree at the University of Barcelona and has collaborated with a number of centres.