NEW MYSTICS | ALICE BUCKNELL
New Mystics presents itself as a classic website. The platform is identified as a meeting place for artists who operate through digital tools and heterogeneous practices, individually called to take part in a conversation with an artificial intelligence. The project, conceived by the North American artist Alice Bucknell and launched in 2021, is still ongoing: made up of several seasons, each one published annually, New Mystics involves a different group of artists from time to time.
Bucknell places her research within the digital universe, focusing explorations on game engine, artificial intelligence and the connections created between technology and ecology. A peculiar artist’s characteristic is the spiritual, mystical atmosphere that surrounds her artworks, creating an unconventional and suggestive dialogue with the digital support used. Bucknell said that she uses technology like a witch uses magic.
A short animation of blue icons – a direct reference to tribal symbols used in some rituals – rotating in a circular motion introduces the website home page, which is then divided into boxes, each represented by an icon and associated with an artist. Clicking on a box it opens the relative page, which contains the transcription of the conversation the artist had with the artificial intelligence. Functional images, inherent to the conversation in progress, enriches each text.
Shaded spots, of different pastel colors with cold tonality, alternates in slow movements all over the webpages background. Thanks to these elements, the viewer is enchanted, as if hypnotized, and transported to another reality, which can be fantasy or dream.
Every element of New Mystics wants to be a reference to the spiritual world, for example the release date of the project itself, which coincides with the summer solstice, or the runic icons assigned to artists.
By staying a few minutes on the home page, it is possible to read a text, positioned at the bottom of the page, which appears on the spot, as if there is someone inside the screen writing it, and then disappears once the content has been read. A whole of sentences looks like a river of thoughts and considerations on technology and digital language, which do not stay on the surface but dig deep in search of innate motivations or behaviors. Impossible to know if the author of these sentences is the artist herself or an artificial intelligence.
Placing itself within the heated contemporary debate on the impact of technologies in human life, the weave created between the spiritual and the digital world is certainly a charming point of view and paves the way for many new possibilities of interaction and communication, both between humans and between human beings and artificial intelligence.
New Mystics, 2021 – ongoing
Screenshot of the webpage, “Tai Shani – The Neon Hieroglyph” (2021)
© Courtesy the artist