Ordinary Madness

Digitalization poses the question of identity in a fresh light. How does co-existing in different worlds, the 3D physical world and the “other” virtual world affect our sense of self? Where do our bodies begin and end? What new senses are available to a human who is such a concentrated blend of matter and media? In what space does ‘the other’ exist? In their physical presence or in the “nowhere” space? 

Ordinary Madness toys with these questions. The idea originated as Colbert was having a drink with a friend. A butterfly landed on the window and her mesmerized two-year-old reached over, pressed her fingers against the glass, and tried to zoom into the creature to make it bigger. She was completely baffled by the simplicity of this gesture, which collapsed the physical 3D world and the digital 4D world in an in an instant. 

To explore these questions she recreated surreal emoji masks. She felt the emoji was the perfect visual for our new, symbolized, digital self. Sweet and anodyne, it has crept into our lives imperceptibly, becoming as normal as a handshake without us even realizing it. Staging scenes of half emoji/ half human characters, using long and double exposures of circuit boards and AI, she was interested in exploring how our own physicality might be redefined as the fabric of our material and virtual worlds continue to blur. The images were shot on black and white film to reflect the immediate datedness of social media and technology.

“Colbert’s hybrid figures –partly human partly digital– become ghosts from the future…. Her delicate images hovering between intimacy and distance; desire and repulsion; robotic carcasses and sexualized bodies; creating a dystopic vision of the future where the cyborg emoji –an exotic species– runs through deserted households, its needs crystallized in a state of perpetual surveillance.” 

 

- Ilaria Puri Purini 
Contemporary Arts Society

“A sense of solitude and disintegration emanate from the images but also humor and absurdity. Charlotte Colbert’s tongue and cheek approach re-poses in a playful way the eternal question of the limitations of language.” 

 

- Mila Askarova 
Founder of Gazelli Art House

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