We are living through a crisis of attention. Innovations in media and technology have expanded our cognition dramatically, yet our focus is splintered and co-opted. Socialization, leisure, and cultural forms are a buttress against this encroachment, but even these activities are increasingly spectacularized and enervated. As sites of refuge and contemplation grow rare, “A Call to Attention” responds to this crisis by looking to a lineage of art-making centered on novel forms of engaging the viewer. It is an exhibition not of discrete aesthetic objects, but of attentional forms. This discourse spans several generations of practice, each responding to or arguing against the social status quo of its time through experiential interventions.
In the attention economy, the museum still retains its status as a heterotopic institution: a space sought out for its spiritual, psychological, or emotional potentials, outside of the modes of attention that characterize most of our activities. Organized within the buried cloisters of UCCA Dune, itself situated in the idealized beach resort community of Aranya, “A Call to Attention” aims to create a space removed from spectacle in which visitors might find a more meaningful mode of retreat. Not a taxonomy of movements or forms, such as relational aesthetics and its variants, the exhibition instead raises questions related to the nature of this discourse: How do artists shift from a practice of aesthetic objects to works of aesthetic engagement? What strategies do they employ? Most importantly, once they have your attention, what do they do with it?
Aranya Gold Coast