Artist imagines a regimented future

In 1965, French director Jean-Luc Godard filmed «Alphaville,» a science-fiction film noir which described a dreadful world of totalitarian technocracy where emotions, individuality and personal freedom in every sense have been erased for the sake of security, prudence, efficiency and logic. Technology that breeds an authoritarian, dystopian world: This is one of the realities that have haunted artistic expression and artistic discourse. In the 1980s, for example, the creation of a simulated, virtual world through media technology was a recurring theme in art. More recently, the focus has shifted to the intersection of computer technology and corporate capitalism. This is one of the issues raised by the Berlin-based artist Vassileia Stylianidou through «Playcities,» a three-part installation on view at the Kappatos Gallery until Saturday. In one of the gallery’s rooms, three simultaneous video projections describe life in City «A», a fictional community which is governed by a multinational corporation. Total control has been imposed, supposedly to protect people from terrorist attacks. Isolated from social relationships, the citizens of City «A» have no sense of tradition or history, no social or political conscience and live in a sterile world, occupying high-tech, transparent and perfectly designed spaces. City «A» has no public spaces. Standardization prevails, but its underlying objective is not the erasure of social hierarchies but the eradication of personal choice. Like the world they describe, the images are high-tech and digitally processed. A selection of these are hung on the wall in one of the gallery’s other rooms. There is also a video projection showing a succession of frozen images depicting the white silhouettes of people moving across a black background. Again, the mood is that of alienation and anonymity. (The exhibition also includes another, separate work by the artist, consisting of staged photographs taken in Disneyland at Orlando, Florida.) Contemporary in mood, skillfully executed and multilayered in its content, «Playcities» welds together a number of topical issues: It considers the political authority of multinational corporations, the manipulation of our political judgment and the exploitation of technology for political ends, as well as the ways in which technology and its aesthetics are woven into art, architecture and our very lives.