You may have heard of the Catacombs, the innumerable underground rooms and basements, holding approximately six million remains, concealed beneath Paris’ cobblestone streets. One such vestige from millennia of conquerer after conquerer, architect after architect, is Flaq Paris Gallery, where artist Filipe Vilas-Boas has constructed an interactive mini-universe. He projects the sea of digital stars onto the walls of the gallery’s first floor, a renovated crypt centered around a statue of The Virgin Mary holding tiny baby Jesus. And at the center of both statue and star systems, the visitor’s own visage is projected, captured by a camera with a facial recognition algorithm. Now that’s a self-portrait.
The installation is called iDoll, a play on the idol-worshipping that has defined previous generations, and the iPhenomena that have defined our own. “iDoll explores our cult of icons and interactivity as a way to build our identity,” Vilas-Boas tells The Creators Project. Previously he transformed a cathedral into a star-gazing wonderland in an installation called Shooting Thoughts, which turned text messages into gorgeous shooting stars.
Photo: Vincent Doubrère
“As the object of our daily worship, the internet has become our new Bible; new tablets have replaced the old,” the artist continues. “We live in an overconnected world where technology is sanctified, where personal growth happens horizontally more than vertically. We elevate ourselves and seek validation through our peers instead of our predecessors. Thanks to digital photography, selfies have become our modern daily icons. In this algorithmic and interactive self-worship, we build and shape our identities through the pictures we share.”
While some might see the conflation of selfie-ism to idolatry as a criticism of our tech-obssessed culture, Vilas-Boas sees it as just the opposite. “Both installations express the way we live today: interconnected and disintermediated. We don’t need superior authorities to do a lot of things these day. Things happen horizontally… Digital technology gives us means to communicate, exchange with each others. The web connects us and that is a HUGE step for mankind to me. ”
Check out iDoll in the images and video below.
See more of Filipe Vilas-Boas’s work on his website.