Parallax Views

As analogue gives way to digital, our perceptions of our bodies and our place in the world is changing profoundly. The multimedia works of artists Crosslucid take this transformation to the limit in the search for new freedoms of self-expression, even if that means bending time

Talking to the art duo Crosslucid (@crosslucid) over Skype suddenly feels very retro. Technology, virtual realities and digital spaces are an essential part of Crosslucid’s work, but it is how these enable human connections and how virtual and physical realities merge where the duo is breaking new ground.
“We create worlds that very often appear to be digital but are not. We really love playing with the idea of perception, communication and interconnection between those two worlds,” they tell me from Berlin over a pretty good Skype connection.
Sylwana Zybura (@sylv_zed) and Tomas C. Toth (@disorderlydesires) met on a fashion industry job in London, Sylwana as a photographer and director, and Tomas as a stylist and creative director. To be able to develop their long-term artistic ideas they left London and set up base in Berlin. Their first significant collaboration, Landscapes Between Eternities, came out as a book 2018 and is being extended into a series of installations.

Their work process most often starts in the form of collages, both physical and digital. The work then develops from physical objects, sculptural styling, photo, and post-edit to a wider assemblage of art mediums. Crosslucid’s latest art piece, Primer, is a film, making it possible to incorporate different thought processes and collaborators as well as CGI, performance, installations and text. Movement has become more important for the duo, and in a performance connected to Landscapes Between Eternities exploring the synthetic self and the perception of self online and in reality, they let dancers develop new movements constrained by clothes that make it difficult for them to move.

I want to know how the perception of ourselves has changed, now that we have such a significant presence in the digital world. “Now we just have a different platform,” they say. “Before this, there were always different realms: family, social and work. You might have a stage presence, or you might be different versions of yourself in different circles of friends. Through digital technologies we can be connected with others, not necessarily through a location but through the beliefs and the interests that we share. The digital realm really allows us to explore without feeling guilty or out of place. It is just an extension that enables people to develop the personal potential, their own mind, and to connect with likeminded people.”

Through these different worlds that Crosslucid creates, the duo aims to invite people to engage in conversation. A current project, #FIRSTDATE, was initiated through an art residency in Georgia and deals with intimacy in the digital age. It explores how technology can contribute to develop a conversation in a place where social norms, religion or traditional values oppress conversations about sexuality.
Even though the topic is taboo or stigmatized in real life, a digital space, or approaching the conversation from a virtual point of view, has worked as a trigger and encouraged people to start open up about their personal stories and to express themselves freely.
The conversations have been inspired through panel discussions and an art installation. A film has also been featured through the club music platform Boiler Room which shows dancers interacting with abstract objects, and installations where coloured fluids pour through what seem like different types of organic material. With an abstract, intimate tension in a virtual yet familiar atmosphere, the film invite us to view sexuality from different perspectives, free from traditional constraints or presumptions.

A similar approach can be experienced in the film Primer in which a parallel world not shaped by the norms and binaries that come with capital evolution emerges. A voice in the film suggest that, “We are going through a long and painful transition, from industrialism to a new pre-civilization. The digital automation, the silicon turn, made possible by the return of tribalism, communes, local thinking. By shrinking distances, by minimizing the machines, a ‘wireless pre’ is dispersing.” The idea of a wireless pre is based on an essay by the Romanian academic Ion Dumitrescu, published in the 2016 anthology Black Hyperbox, in which the author proposes an alternative future that makes it, as the artists have been quoted as saying, “partially possible to return to certain pasts, a gradual reconnecting with a pre-binary”.
“It is about the idea of re-evaluating our times and an experiential thought travel to pre-history where there are no preconceptions or prefabricated ideas of who we are or identify as,” Zybura and Toth explain. “Starting from scratch, we would have to find a new reality.” Whether that could be a virtual or physical reality is less important to define. It is in the transition and in the possibility to imagining a different outcome that Crosslucid invites us into a pre-binary future.

Words by Karolina Brock

Art Credits:
Stills from primer and #firstdate; collaboration with percy lau; an image from landscapes between Eternities. collaboration with 0202 facewear; far. An image from landscapes between Eternities, two stills from #firstdate; performance for rapid prototyping  landscapes