SAFE MODE: "The City That Slept"

The final collection of the exhibition, "Safe Mode," showcases a single collaborative piece that documents the effects of COVID-19—a "glitch" in the system—and the adaptations humans are undertaking in response. Unlike the other collections in this exhibition, which take a more critical view of technology, this project signals ways that technology helps us to stay connected. The City That Slept reveals daily life in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic through the lenses of artists Bryan Campana, Kaitlyn Chiu, Mushan Khan, Lauren Lee, Noran Omar, Danica Raz, and Qi Qi Wu. This project explores the broken boundaries of time and routine life in the pandemic. Humans, faced with an unprecedented situation, need to carry on with life despite a "glitch" in the way society functions. By entering "Safe Mode," humans are only allowed to conduct essential functions as they wait for the “bug” to be fixed.

The City That Slept

Bryan Campana, Kaitlyn Chiu, Mushan Khan, Lauren Lee, Noran Omar, Danica Raz, and Qi Qi Wu

Video, 2020, 6:37 RT

"Thrown into an endless loop, the only semblance of time is waking up and going to sleep."

The City That Slept is a creative response to the experience of self-quarantine, created by seven members of the Spring 2020 New Media Arts Capstone Class. This collaborative project showcases their "disorienting" experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Zoom, a teleconferencing application, has become the ubiquitous platform as people attempt to maintain "normalcy" by means of virtual interconnection. Stripped of almost all physical interaction, the Zoom interface operates as a matrix of backdoors, allowing people to remain connected during this prolonged recovery period. It is a video montage inspired by the exquisite corpse, a surrealist method used to create collective and interpretative art. By using this method, the artists' personal aesthetics are able to shine as unique parts of the whole - rather than body parts to configure a whole body, segments of time compose a unified day. This piece offers a glimpse into each person's day to day routine through a plethora of activities as a means of coping in times of uncertainty, where "normal" has become an elusive conviction.

On 20 March 2020, it was announced that the state of New York would be going on pause in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All non-essential personnel were advised to remain at home, venturing out only for necessities. "The city that never sleeps" was halted in its tracks. As the number of COVID-19 cases soared and New York became the global hotspot, social distancing became the norm. Lives changed rapidly, leaving many adrift. Most disorienting of all is the passage of time: days melt into each other, yet feel like an eternity.