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"Swifter Than Shadows"

2011

Andrew Carson

See installation shots

from an ongoing series inspired by the Egyptian Book of the Dead, "I have hidden myself amongst you, oh imperishable stars", exploring online realities and virtual immortality. Intended as a guide for surviving the passage through the underworld, the title of the series is derived from the chapter on "not dying a second time", designed to give the deceased the tools to ensure their soul lives on through the dispersement of elements of the self amongst the cosmos.

Finding links between these ancient religious beliefs and contemporaneous uses of online and social media, and inspired by Facebook's recent memorialisation policy, the work invites users to reflect on the fact that although not permanently active on the site, the data and memories they upload live on as a sort of shadow-self. Coupled with other media sites used, such as Twitter and Google+ amongst others, this questions the semblance of immortality that occurs; immortality not dependent on the continued presence of the physical self. The Egyptian concept of death did not only consist of the physical act of one's body dying, but death, in the Egyptian sense, was also a separation from one's social context, so for example, a person ostracised from the community was for all intents and purposes considered dead themselves. In contemporary terms, these perpetual online effigies circumvent death-by-social-exclusion.

Swifter Than Shadows is a manifestation of one of the five components of the Egyptian soul, the shadow. Each of the five parts needed to survive, and be reunited after death, to allow for eternal existence.

This piece was shown as part of Amharc Fhine Gall VIII - Unknown Knowns in Draiocht, Centre for the Arts, November 2011