We don’t get many artists in the Lumen Prize longlist who adopt their name from the lyric of a song by a new wave band from the 1970’s. But Susi Disorder (originally Susana Gómez Larrañaga) did just that and her practice is similarly iconoclastic.
Her longlisted work, a still image called The Sedimentation of the Digital Object, explores the long-lasting effects of digital media and its toxic ramifications. Created from the extraction of energy and minerals, she points out, huge amounts of digital data are created and stored online.
In addition to the material ramifications of smart electronic devices, their pervasive toxicity is also carried by what she calls the predatory algorithms empowered by big data mining – algorithms seeking the maximisation of human consumption online. The digital enables and instigates a cyclical trend of consumption that revolves around the mining of the Earth and the mining of citizens’ data. It’s a powerful concept and one which has produced an arresting set of images.
Like so many Lumen artists, her path to creating with technology was not a straight one. Born in Santander, a city on the North coast of Spain, she studied architecture at the Polytechnic University of Madrid but decided to transfer to Fine Arts instead. She then completed an MA in Printmaking at the Cambridge School of Art. She is now in a practice-led PhD at the University of Greenwich, working with creative coding and print.
As she explains: “My initial artistic interest in printmaking led me to reflect about the role of technology in art practice. I love the rich textures and the elements of serendipity to print. The tension between the mass production possibilities and the human elements of printmaking have led me to explore other creative technologies, such as creative coding, and, thus, examine how the co-operation can become generative. Repurposing technologies in art practices can be insightful regarding the increasingly dominant role of technology in geopolitical and ecological issues which always filter down into people’s day-to-day lives.”
Unruly Processes & Patterns
She says that she’s always had a passion for nature and what she calls its unruly processes and patterns. “Technology, and art, enables us to witness and replicate these processes,” she says. In particular, she’s been drawn to ruined sites and artefacts – such as 20th century military ruins – which stimulate her imagination and make her consider new ways of producing site-specific work. The blurred boundary between what would
be considered ‘man-made’ and ‘natural’ reflect the co-dependence of these ecosystems. “Natural and human ruins are now a rising focus of artistic and academic research as they provide insights regarding issues related to the Anthropocene era,” she says.
Being an academic has greatly informed her practice, she says. “I am definitely more courageous in utilising technical methods which may have seemed really daunting two years ago. I have become much more rigorous in terms of research before making work and consider all sorts of ethical issues – for instance, I am now moving towards exclusively using open and free software for creating my digital work. Environmental considerations in art production are also much more important for me than they were before I started my PhD.”
As for the future, she’s got a range of ideas, having recently discovered the bio-art scene which fascinates her. “I intend to move my work into a sculptural form, so material research is something that I will be delving into soon. In ten years, I hope to have expanded my practice into a Land Art context and have developed new means of displaying my work outside of a gallery context,” she says.
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