Carrie Able at the intersection of fine art and immersive technology
In 2021, American artist Carrie Able and the European Cultural Centre started a conversation about a creative collaboration that today, over a year later, has flourished and resulted into a stunning installation present at Palazzo Bembo as part of the contemporary art exhibition Personal Structures - Reflections, organised and hosted by the ECC in Venice, Italy.
Carrie Able's Performance at Palazzo Bembo on April 22nd, 2022 | Photo credits: Clelia Cadamuro
A conversation between Artist Carrie Able and ECC Head of Art Sara Danieli
Carrie Able is a multidisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn, New York, working at the intersection of fine art and immersive technology through the use of XR media, music, painting, cryptocurrency, performance and poetry. Able seeks new ways to incorporate XR (virtual and augmented reality) into all these practices while also working with blockchain technology.
Technology, and specifically XR technology, is an essential part of your work but what is XR specifically and how does it combine with your practice?
XR is the term for Extended Reality, which is often considered the umbrella that encompasses VR (Virtual Reality), (AR) Augmented Reality and MR (Mixed Reality). I believe these elements are the future, and the best way to experience the “metaverse” which I see evolving as an extension of how we understand and commonly use the internet today.
I also believe that at some point soon, we all will have some type of wearable or headset with which we will be able to seamlessly experience XR. All of this is very exciting to me, especially in terms of the future of technology and the future of interaction with increased accessibility.
Carrie Able at her installation in Palazzo Bembo | Photo credits: Riccardo Grassetti
What role does technology, specifically XR technology, play in your life and creative approach?
I am very passionate about the future of XR because I think it is the best way for people to experience the metaverse. “Metaverse” has become a kind of a buzzword, and even if some people might still not understand it, I believe it is the future.
The internet is headed to a place where people will be experiencing things in real-time, volumetrically. Moreover, in these last two years, we have lived through a period of isolation. I spent time imagining what it would be like if everyone had a device where you could feel like you were right next to someone. For example, if your grandmother was in the hospital, you could have the opportunity to safely visit with her, go somewhere nice with her.
The possibilities are endless on how much this is going to enrich and help people’s lives in a way that we will come to feel that is similar to the internet right now. Once everyone has the hardware and understanding, the same way we today have of smartphones and the internet, then it will be something we no longer think about as it will be part of our day to day life.
In your opinion, how does technology affect and influence art? Do you think technology can improve the creativity of a person?
With technology, as with anything that is incredibly powerful, it is important that you have it work for you and not you be working for it. You have to be really aware of how you are using it and make sure you are delegating your time so that you are not letting it control you. It is a very powerful tool, not only in terms of creation but also in terms of being able to reach an audience and collectors, being able to educate yourself in new ways of selling and collecting work. I believe people hundreds of years from now will be looking back at this time and call this the “Digital Renaissance”, because we are having the propensity where people see that they can actually support themselves with their art. It is possible for anyone, anywhere, to be a successful, independent artist, and never before has that been possible in history.
What elements of XR technology can visitors find in your installation at Palazzo Bembo?
In the exhibition DALL’ANIMA within Personal Structures: Reflections, the most predominant XR aspect presented in my installation is the physical VR headset. Visitors can use this hardwear to experience the volumetric, immersive digital painting titled Embers (2022). By putting it on, viewers can walk around inside the virtual painting. Basically, the headset tracks your movements, like if you were wearing a GoPro on your head, and so the painting becomes your entire world.
Photo credits: Clelia Cadamuro
Photo credits: Federico Vespignani
Besides this, I have also created 3D-printed, volumetric sculptures that I have formed in the air while wearing the VR headset, and 8 oil paintings made in the more traditional sense, that act as Augmented Reality Markers, triggered from a free to download costum app. Visitors can find and scan a portion of the painting with their phones and see it come to life. Through the use of the app, anyone with a smartphone can experience a version of the physical installation, even if they are not able to be onsite in Venice. This aligns with my vision of increasing accessibility within both art and technology.
I think these types of interactivity are definitely the future, and this combination of art and technology is making this the most exciting time to be an artist, so I wanted to reflect on that in this exhibition with the Europen Cultural Centre.
3-D Printed Sculptures by Carrie Able | Photo credits: Federico Vespignani
With such innovative approaches, why did you decide to present your work in a more traditional landscape like Venice?
There is a very rich history of arts and culture in Venice and Italy. For myself, when I create, it is not only for myself but for the entire community of XR and Crypto Artists. I view this exhibition as not only representing myself, and my own practice, but as inspiring moment for these communities.
I hope this to be the introduction to collectors and young artists to show this is the future and this is what you can do in an elevated way, showing that it has to be taken seriously in the same way as a traditional oil painting, and there is no better place than Venice to make such a statement.
How does your work relate to the 2022 theme of Personal Structures, ‘Reflections’?
The first thing I thought of when I heard this topic was how fascinated I am with light and the physics of light, and how to create works through that. I don’t really think about it in terms of being it a reflection of a period of time because I like to create very much in the present, so I guess it is more like a reflection of the totality of mediums that I am working with. In working with XR, I have found a way to paint with light.
Carrie Able Artwork
Since you have the future already in mind, are there any projects you are already working on?
In addition to the Personal Structures: Reflections installation and live performance done on 22 April during the opening events of the exhibition, I also had an NFT drop on 20 April with Nifty Gateway. This drop included three 8/8 editioned, single-channelled, guided views within my fully immersive, volumetric, virtual reality, digital paintings. Three randomized collectors will also receive an exclusive 1/1 of the full, volumetric painting, including Eded, Erase and Embers, currently on view in Palazzo Bembo. I will be doing two more exclusive drops with Nifty Gateway this year before the conclusion of the exhibition in November. Also, this Summer, during the week of June 20 I will be doing a talk during NFT NYC week, with a tech activation and curated exhibition with Microsoft in New York City. These forthcoming events continue to seek more awareness within the overlap of the XR and NFT space.
You can visit Carrie Able's exhibition at Palazzo Bembo until the 27th of November or discover her work by exploring the virtual tours online. Discover more about the artist on her profile online and on Instagram.