Artist: Timo Seber
Exhibition title: Techies
Venue: Galerie Tobias Naehring, Leipzig, Germany
Date: April 10 – June 6, 2015
Photography: Falk Messerschmidt / Daniel Poller, images courtesy of the artist and Galerie Tobias Naehring
Timo Seber’s work examines the social mechanisms in a media-driven world. In his exploration of the effects of mass cultural phenomena such as pop or cyberculture on our standardized conception of society and identity, the artist gives us insight into the transforming process of the reality we live in and the perception of an increasingly virtually experienced space, where these manifested standards have begun to dissolve. Often one’s own memories, which emerge in reflective sequences, coalesce with the conversion into artistic presentation. The resulting large-scale installations, grant the viewer access to a whole new world of experience.
”Techies” is Timo Seber’s second solo exhibition at the Tobias Naehring gallery and examines the communication mechanisms of an ever growing virtual community of gamers. The title not only refers to the original term for digital experts – ”Nerds” – but also refers to specific game figures in the most-played e-sports game (DOTA 2), with over 10 million currently active users. These figures are the three helpers that stand by and aid the main hero. In battle Techies stand out due to their special abilities.
The artist has turned the gallery space into what seems to be an authentic training camp for the game’s players. A place where they may ready themselves for battle. Ropes and wall mounted dip bars create a gym-like atmosphere, bringing the not always positive memory of school sports to mind. The encased ends of the ropes, as well as the leather T- Shirts which are exhibited on pedestals feature printed screenshots of the virtual game, indicating that other skills may be required other than physical exertion.
The world of e-sports is incorporeal. To succeed, strategy and a fast reaction time are of the essence. Liberated from his/her physical form, all of the player’s options are open. Stepping into the role of the hero, one arms oneself for battle, choosing from a practically endless pool of forces and supporters, such as the Techies. One’s own personal identity exists on some meta-level. Not only is it present in the game itself, in the hero, but it also exists as part of a community of gamers, who are in constant communication with each other.
In the exhibition space Seber submits this meta-level to new transformations, creating a complex conglomerate of virtual and real elements. The 3-dimensional T-shirts made of leather appear to be physical incarnations of the game-heroes’ battle armor. The screenshots printed on the T-shirts and the rope ends refer to their virtual origin. Photography forms a two-dimensional element in the spatial installation. Here as well a community of players is featured in what appears to be the sidelines, out of the space.
It is the artist’s own memory, a snapshot from childhood. The playing ground, a vacant lot, becomes the microcosm of the mutual game, exempt of the social rules which exist in the reality that surrounds it.
Here, the artist draws various parallels to the cyber community: with its likewise often very young players and their convention in a separate space, a constructed reality. The boundaries between the game characters and the players of the game blur. Users themselves become Techies, by sharing strategies, techniques and tricks in live stream. A coded language ensues: technical and reduced in its expression.
Timo Seber has deciphered the code and practices of this cyber culture and translated them into a physically real realm of experience in his installation.
The virtual incorporeality of gamers and techies materializes performatively in the objects created by the artist. The sculptural protective armor becomes a uniform, the fictional training room forms an interspace, spanning the gap between utopia and the real world. In the creation of this shift between digital and real-life states, the artist draws us in: deeper and deeper.
Wencke Schubert, 2015, Translation: Anne Fellner
Techies #12, 2015 (Detail)
Big Daddy, 2015
Techies #2, 2015
Techies #9, 2015
Techies #11, 2015
Techies #3, 2015
Techies #12, 2015
Techies #12, 2015 (Detail)