Andrew Roberts at House of Chappaz

Artist: Andrew Roberts

Exhibition title: Necromancer

Venue: House of Chappaz, Valencia, Barcelona, Spain

Date: December 1, 2022 – February 17, 2023 (Valencia), December 2, 2022 – January 27, 2023 (Barcelona)

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and House of Chappaz, Valencia

Arthur C. Clarke once said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. He was not wrong. We users of technology are, quite literally, sorcerers: producers of artifice who absorb matter and energy from our environment to deploy power over it. A sword gives us the ability to cut the flesh of our enemy, a book stretches our mind and connects us to the memory and knowledge stored by others, a potion is a pharmakon capable of revivifying or poisoning whoever drinks it. But this power is not always free. As is usually the case, it can consume and destroy its surroundings in the manner of a flame that melts the wax in a candle. All those rare earth minerals and other chemical elements from which we build our digital devices are undermining the Earth at an ever-increasing rate. These raw materials are fervently sought after by the technology industry precisely because they possess privileged electromagnetic properties, which could well be considered magical. But it doesn’t end there. To the mining that eats away at the Earth is added the constant and systematic cognitive exploitation to which the most powerful magicians have us subjected within the parallel digital world that they have managed to mount on our devices under the promise of instant communication and transcendence. Every time we sit in front of our computer, we are being consumed by a group of necromancers that feed on our time, energy, work, attention and creativity until they leave us empty with every click, we make in order to satisfy some vanity drive previously designed to hook us, all this to the point of mutating our bodies and minds and turning us into posthuman creatures with their own races, classes, skills and tools.

In Necromancer, the Mexican artist’s first solo exhibition at House of Chappaz,[1] Andrew Roberts delves into the parallels that unfold between magic and technology. Each sorcerous creature of magic and technology feeds on different modalities of mana: there is mana linked to the Earth and its nature, to intelligence and calculation, to violence and war, to goodness and order, to death and decay… each type represented in these drawings by a different aura of colour. For their part, the orcs, goblins, centaurs, zombies and other creatures suggest the mutability to which the human tends as a result of a co-adaptability with a certain character of mana, a hybridisation that is expressed in the form that their limbs adopt according to the ergonomics of the skills and tools they use. Finally, Andrew Roberts also presents a series of videos that emulate the style of vanitas where hardware or software desktops operate in turn as laboratories of alchemical experimentation, but also as the eternal reminder of a slow death that results from this relationship of consumption of cognitive and material resources with technology.

Curated by Cristina Sandoval
Text by Victor G. García Castañeda

[1] An exhibition that is actually double, since one part is shown at House of Chappaz FLAT (Valencia) and the other at House of Chappaz BASEMENT (Barcelona)