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Where's the frame

Maribelle Bierens

May 31, 2023 10:47 AM


In the vast digital landscape, where virtual worlds blend with reality, a new form of deception emerges. The realm of online experiences and virtual environments offers a stage where one can be easily misled by the manipulation of images and appearances. In her studio at SLADE, wtf? had the pleasure of discussing this intriguing concept with Frederika Dalwood, who delves into the interplay between digital imagery and the human perception of truth.

Frederika Dalwood in her studio

'Technology is often perceived as neutral and factual', Frederika remarks, 'but in reality, it is far from it. Algorithms, created by individuals, shape the digital realm and determine what we see'. As an example, Frederika shows me a plastic finger and tells me that some people wear these as an 11th finger to throw off CCTV. If they would use these images in court, they can say this footage is artificially created because they can argue that the extra finger means that it’s a glitch of the software, creating doubt in the authenticity of recorded events.

Frederika Dalwood, Fog Bath, 2023. 

Another interesting aspect that maybe isn't discussed enough is the notion of authorship and the identity of those behind the virtual world. The artist contemplated the immersive nature of online spaces, highlighting the idea that being 'in' the virtual realm is akin to being in a distinct space rather than simply operating a computer. This observation is reflected in Frederika's work, which explores the manipulation of scale, texture, and pixelation to create tapestries that physically embody pixels.

Frederika Dalwood, powis in chippy bigger, 2023.

Perhaps this idea of authorship was more visible and clear in the earlier days of the internet. In her work, there are a lot of nostalgic references to internet phenomena like viral challenges from the early 2010s.

Frederika Dalwood, Stalag Blob, 2023.

These seemingly disparate elements were intriguingly combined to evoke a sense of ritual, capturing the essence of modern-day online gatherings and happenings.

The artist's exploration of digital images and their circulation unveiled the homogenised experience offered by the internet. The vast pool of available imagery gives rise to a congealed mix of visuals, blurring the boundaries between various contexts and creating surreal juxtapositions. As the artist noted, 'It's the surreal randomness of clashing together different contexts, creating a disorienting yet captivating effect'.

Frederika Dalwood, space odeyssy, 2023.

In the pursuit of conveying the enigmatic and the uncanny, the artist embarked on a journey that involved manipulating shadows, experimenting with different mediums, and even strategically incorporating reflections to reinforce the physical existence of digitally created objects. The artist's intention was to ground the images, to provide a sense of familiarity within the digital realm, as if saying, 'This is real, this exists'.

Frederika Dalwood, Door Ajar, 2023. 

Frederika explains how she is captivated by the concept of the uncanny valley—a phenomenon that occurs when humanoid robots or digital creations closely resemble humans but still trigger discomfort due to subtle discrepancies. This idea resonated with the artist's exploration of digital images, where the brain's ability to recognise faces clashed with its innate understanding of authenticity, leaving viewers in an eerie state of uncertainty.

Frederika Dalwood, Gaps, 2023. 

In the realm of digital spaces, where deception and illusion abound, this conversation shed light on the intricate interplay between technology, perception, and artistic expression. Through their work, this artist unravels the hidden layers of digital images, challenging the notion of reality and beckoning viewers to question their own perceptions. As the boundaries between virtual and physical worlds continue to blur, this exploration serves as a poignant reminder that even in the realm of digital art, authenticity and truth are never absolute.

You can follow Frederika on Instagram and her website.

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