"You Are An Agent Of Free Sunlight" (2022) by Robert Montgomery (in collaboration with Sir Gulliver)
Have you ever felt disenchanted by a growing disconnect between your physical and electronic life?
In his first ever digital work, renowned poet and installation artist Robert Montgomery ironically uses the medium to explore the aversion he feels for our algorithmically tailored virtual realities. His talent at the juxtaposition of thought-provoking phrases within urban spaces has been one I’ve admired for a long time, so I was quite intrigued to see how his verse creations would translate in the realm of bits and bytes.
‘You Are An Agent Of Free Sunlight’ offers us a 3 minutes and 33 seconds long lament on the broken promises of new technology. Created in collaboration with multimedia artist Sir Gulliver, we are shown a darkly lit cyber arena where Montgomery’s voice echoes his projected words, replicating the neon tones of the artist’s real life light poems. A mostly faceless 3D sculpture hovers in the background, softly crumbling as the phrases of the video manifesto reflect on our crippling bondage to devices. These ‘tablets of illuminated memories, where in all the pictures the famous people have already begun to look lost and lonely’ seem to sever our connection with the natural for ‘little boxes of ghosts exactly tailored to ourselves’.
As the piece progresses, it urges us to embrace real sunlight instead of shunning it for preventing us from experiencing our reflective screens and warns us of the dangers of being sucked too deep in our entertaining prisons. For we might start feeling ‘artificial amongst the bird songs’ as the intimacy of advertised fakeness heightens our insecurities to a point where we forget the beauty around us in favor of the mirages trademarked by tech billionaires.
Robert’s unsettling narrative is beautifully worded and succinctly presented. Originally created as part of New Pavillion’s inaugural project within the NFT space and supported by Danysz Gallery, it gives presence to fears a lot of us secretly struggle with and cleverly uses the medium for a certain form of self-criticism. I hope we can take lessons from Montgomery’s ballad and above all never forget that we are all ‘carbon miracles’.