Social Pharmakon, Arte Boccanera Gallery, Italy, 2012


Technologies create social media as “temporal objects”, which can have both separating and unifying power. They can steal our time, but they can intensify the synchronization of our minds and bodies. It might be considered as a well-known meaning of pharmakon – cure and poison at the same time.

This body of work is based on research to do with inter-personal group communication on the Internet and is a further development of Lutyens’ interest in our social interactions, as new technologies change the way we are. Inspired by a dialogue born in the "Reflection Room" with Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev in dOCUMENTA (13), Lutyens explores electronic communication networks as an extension of the existing social world as we extend from one realm to the other and back again.

The interchange between these two realities invites the visitor to consider the two different positions, and how we navigate between them. The contrast between broadcast media – tv, radio – that uses one-way communication and social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, or online networks has provoked a drastic change in the way we relate to each other, but more crucially it has impacted the way our psyche deals with the kaleidoscopic world around us.

In the first area of the gallery, which path is totally redefined, Lutyens has set up a kind of inner diary which tracks a process of extreme exposure to social media, using brainwave scanning equipment and robotic renderings. The next spaces relate to the visitor, who is, as always, the focal point of Lutyens’ research projects. These spaces explore the impact of push notifications as well as immerse the visitor in a smell-augmented journey through, into and beyond the social networks. The scent is derived from a collaboration with Saskia Wilson-Brown and the Institute of Art and Olfaction in Los Angeles.

Released for the opening the exhibition catalogue with the dialogue Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev – Marcos Lutyens, the curators’ essays, the works’ on show images.