Alexis Bray - Artist Statement
My work explores the impact of technology on society, showing both negative and positive effects on multiple generations. I’ve found through research that technology has affected interpersonal connection and communication. My work focuses on understanding, approaching, and accepting this fact. I make works that show the ugly side of technology, but also how it has made our lives easier and more efficient, and in some instances, life-changing. We live in a device-driven culture and I make work to open people’s eyes to that fact.
My work throughout the year has changed extensively. I began by using 52 phone cases and filling them with plaster, to achieve the same weight and feel as a cell phone. I wanted the work to signify a deck of cards and reference my growing up without large amounts of technology, and instead, playing cards often. A few other early works referenced the narcissistic side of my generation in the age of selfies and social media. I wanted to make that my main focus and show how social media’s can negatively impact my generation’s mental health. I focused on data during most of my research, but none of the pieces I made seemed to fit together as a thesis.
My thesis piece changed completely during late January, when I read something on NowThis Snapchat news. I read that, to curb screen time in Bandung, Indonesia, government officials handed out 2,000 baby chicks to kids. This gave me the idea to create 2,000 4.5” x 4” screen prints and hang them up on the wall, resembling wallpaper. I grew up with a pet bunny and remembered how much time I spent playing with her every day, which is why I chose the screen prints to represent bunnies. I wanted audience members to take a bunny image off the wall, take it home, and essentially ‘finish’ the piece by coloring it, or altering in some way, like in a coloring book. I wanted audience members to take time away from technology and do something that doesn’t require using a device. I hoped, that with this small piece of art they helped create, they would think more about taking time away from using devices and create art.
As a consequence of COVID-19 crisis, I was not able to show my piece to a larger audience, but instead, I gave a few bunny prints to friends and they completed the pieces by drawing on 30 of them. With this work, I aim to show that devices cannot replace reality. Reality, in this case, is everything outside of the negative impacts of technology, such as lack of human connection. I’ve also adapted a previous idea to respond to the COVID-19 crisis by creating a book of works. Each page represents different feelings I’ve had throughout quarantine and effects it has on my life, as well as national and global thoughts and consequences due to the crisis. This new book of works, included in my thesis, represents the reflection on my time spent in quarantine.