SLEEP MADE SIMPLE | BOB BICKNELL-KNIGHT
Sleep Made Simple (2019) is the second video presented within the program RABBIT HOLE curate by Gemma Fantacci. DIGITAL VIDEO WALL is an annual project structured in thematic chapters, aimed at promoting the dissemination and experimentation of digital art, visible at METRONOM, Modena (IT).
The second screening features the work of Bob Bicknell-Knight, Sleep Made Simple (2019, VIDEO, MP4). Bicknell-Night is a British multidisciplinary artist who works with a plethora of different media, ranging from video games, video, and painting, to name a few, and his artistic practice extends through writing and curating as well. His area of inquiry focuses on the critical examination of contemporary technologies, their use in today’s society and the effects they have on it. Bob Bicknell-Knight focuses particularly on surveillance capitalism and how it succeeds in affecting the way we work, exploring issues such as Internet hyper-consumerism, labor automation, and technocratic power structures and authoritarianism, which are disrupting and reassembling our society as never before. Another area of inquiry for Bicknell-Knight is the study of drone technology and how it is progressively reshaping humanity and its behaviors, complemented by reflections on the development of one’s online identity, the role of big corporations, and dystopian science fiction. Bob Bicknell-Knight is also founder and director of isthisit?, a digital art platform launched in 2016, on which he hosts residencies and online exhibitions as well as offline curatorial programs.
Sleep Made Simple consists of a series of seven individual videos that, as the artist himself explains, «function as a succession of adverts for a fictitious unnamed company that promotes wellness and meditation, forewarning of the future of capitalism, digital healthcare and surveillance». The work appropriates the distinctive imagery of Instagram and its stories, as well as the isometric aesthetic of infographics and the lateral scrolling common to the live news feeds. Given the nature of the Digital Video Wall, the work is soundless, but in its original conception, it features an audio track reminiscent of the relaxation videos popular on YouTube and, at the same time, a male voice reads a series of overlay texts in a tone that resembles that of guided meditation apps. Bob Bicknell-Knight creates a series of fictitious advertisements in which the viewer is invited to be guided by the services offered by this fictitious company for the improvement of one’s body and mental health. The work reflects on the growing influence that apps, digital services and smartwatches designed to monitor an individual’s mental and physical health have on our society and how companies use our data for the development of increasingly targeted advertisements and services. Our well-being has now become a commodity subject to capitalist logics, broken down into a series of tasks and activities (such as taking a certain number of steps per day) that can be tracked to quantify our level of physical and mental well-being. Each individual is thus transformed into a fistful of data at the service of big tech companies as they develop new and increasingly sophisticated services to maximize their profits. Sleep Made Simple was commissioned by Daata Edition for the Bass Art Museum in Miami.
© Bob Bicknell-Knight, Sleep Made Simple, 2019, Courtesy the artist
Digital Video Wall
Metronom | via Carteria 10 | 41121 Modena
10th January – 7th February 2023