For me, it’s hard to consider the imaging of black people outside of film’s ethnographic roots and its relationship to surveillance and cataloguing. Some of the earliest images of people of color were used for those purposes, and I see a lot of similarities between these earlier cinematic forms and present-day Web contexts, for instance. What if you were to assume that you’re being constantly recorded, which in our contemporary moment of widespread surveillance is more or less true? You could say that there’s just a giant film production happening at all times. What happens to you and your being or identity within that reality? How are we performing or acting in this context? There’s a link between the production of self or one’s identity and the mediated production of images, and I’m trying to tie them together both formally and conceptually. A primary reference for me is this idea I’ve been calling “ambient cinema”: ambient in the sense of expanded and environmental, that it’s always happening. [...] I’m interested in using augmented reality to further connect the project to digital realms and bring this kind of simultaneity into the exhibition space itself.
Martine Syms discusses her Projects exhibition at MoMA via www.artforum.com
The project „Project 106,“ exhibited at MoMA in 2017, also consists of a series of cinema poster-sized photographs that transform into moving images through the addition of a site-specific augmented reality app called „WYDRN.“ This allows viewers to access images from Syms‘ family collection and interact in a group text chat with Girl‘s friends. Additionally, users‘ screens are filled in real-time with GIFs of black women, creating a multimedia collage. Martine Syms creates a deliberately self-reflective environment filled with images that reference African-American culture and identity. Viewers must physically move around the space to view and activate the images. The result is a sort of personal reenactment of the Great Migration. To access additional media, download the „WYDRN“ app from http://wyd.zone. Open the app on your phone with the sound turned on. Hold your phone over the artwork to activate the augmented reality features, which include interactive videos triggered by facial recognition technology.