The Imaginary App

Museum London (Ontario, Canada)

(09.28 – 10.20 / 2013)


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Photos by Shelley Long, Dan Mellamphy, Anjali Patel, and Svitlana Matviyenko

Back in the 1960s, media theorist Marshall McLuhan noticed that the proximity to each other of everyone and everything that is typical for a village became a global phenomenon. Since then the “global village” has been growing only smaller: from the size of a room to a desk, from a desktop to a laptop, and now, they say, the world is in your pocket, locked in a smart phone, accessible anytime, anywhere by means of an app – under the tips of your fingers.

The word “app” came around 2009 and quickly became popular after Apple’s iPhone ad campaign. It is an abbreviated software application – figuratively and literally, linguistically and technically: apps are small software programs designed to apply the power of a computing system for a particular purpose. The move to the Cloud marks a paradigm shift in computing: apps have become a major technique in making the media environment seamless and subliminal. Apps are offered to us as channels that would navigate us through the uncanny media networks and rhizomes. They are promised to us as shortcuts that guarantee direct and immediate access to anything we need.

The Imaginary App is an international exhibition that features the works by prominent designers, art students and even teenagers of Museum London’s Youth Council that make the viewers confront the hopes we cherish about technology, especially those endorsed by the slogan: “There’s an app for that.” By its rhetoric and structure, the exhibition imitates an app store. It asks: “What is the most desirable, terrifying, smart, ridiculous, or necessary app that has not been and, possibly, will never be released?” You are invited to enter this simulated space and to confront technological fantasies, many of which could be your own.

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Responses / Press

The App Imaginary: Report from the Apps and Affect Conference by Jeremy Morris

Performance by Brooklyn turntablist, author and composer DJ Spooky by Joe Belanger

Stages of preparation

The shows includes the works by well-known designers, art students, and even a group of 14–16-year-olds affiliated with Ontario’s Museum London. I am especially grateful to Executive Director Brian Meehan, to Curator of Art Cassandra Getty, to Curator of Public Programs Dianne Pearce, and to Francisco Gerardo Toledo Ramírez for their support and help in organizing the exhibition. These photos document the beginning of the work with the teenagers of Museum London which became a fantastic contribution.

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In April 2013, I was able to try out different layout options. Then I traveled to New York where Paul and I finalized the selection of the works for the show at Museum London. After I came back to Canada, I made prints and installed them on the gallery walls — all with the help of several great people.

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