Overlords (2010)

Tom Estes' 'installation' introduces a new kind of artwork that functions more as art proposal for a partially realized exhibition; a document of visual and spatial modes of presentation that theorizes a different approach.

Overlords was originally conceived as a video installation comprised of images of ‘Time Travel’ projected on to a book called ‘Local History and Antiquities’. The work was deliberately left incomplete. The photographs, taken during the works formation, are the only physical manifestation of the artist’s original intent. The project was inspired by the recent diagnosis by some analysts that the economy has become distorted in favor of the super-rich. It has been argued that what we are witnessing is not a single economy at all, but rather the emergence of two, increasingly distinct and divergent types of economy. Though alarming, this is hardly unique; drawing attention to the divide between the wealthy and everyone else has long been standard fare of the political left. In this instance, Time Travel seemed a reasonable fit as the genre of Science Fiction itself has long served as a useful vehicle for ‘safely’ discussing controversial issues about how individuals are constrained, liberated or altered. For artist Tom Estes, fantasy and illusion are not contradictions of reality, but instead an integral part of our everyday lives. As it’s not possible to reference the laws of Quantum Mechanics without reference to consciousness, it seems a likely vehicle as quantum systems posit the existence of many different configurations at the same time. As the Quantum Physicist, Werner Heisenberg once famously said “the atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real: they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of facts.” So perhaps, in this instance, creating the work as a partial expression is an even more valid form of artistic agency

Full Description

As an artist Tom Estes is interested in the relationship between machines and humans. Machines enable us to do things but they also do things to us and do things at us. In a post-internet society, we are completely enveloped by abstract systems and inundated with information that we are struggling to come to terms with.

Through the work Estes explores the interplay between real space, virtual space and the digital as a shaping condition and structuring paradox. He tries to do this with wit and economy in order to examine how data-flow from the virtual realm impacts on the significance and symbolism of real-world human senses. Individual works such as this one can also be seen as part of a wider interdisciplinary practice that incorporates innovative web conversations and social networks. But in doing so, Estes has begun to generate unexpected questions about how photography might inscribe itself on the surface of reality- not to represent itself on the surface of reality –not to represent reality, nor to duplicate it, but to replace it.

Overlords was displayed at Communication Futures at The Old Royal Naval College during DRHA 2014. http://www.drha2014.co.uk/?cat=12.

Overlords was listed amongst winners at Pixel Jam 2012 http://www.demoparty.net/pixeljam-2012/results.html

Overlords received an Honorable Mention- as part of The Boston Online Biennial 2011. http://www.biennialproject.com/ContestWinners.aspx T

The work 'Overlords' was also displayed as a digital production during The Biennial Project'event for the opening week of the 54th Venice Biennale. http://artselectronic.weebly.com/1/post/2011/06/overlords-by-tom-estes-at-venice-biennale-2011.html

'Overlords' also part of The Agency of Unrealized Projects at Art Basel. The Agency of Unrealized Projects (AUP) is a project of e-flux in collaboration with the Serpentine Gallery devised by Julieta Aranda, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Julia Peyton-Jones and Anton Vidokle. Agency of Unrealized Projects (AUP) identity is designed by Liam Gillick.The Agency of Unrealised Ideas, The Kopfbau, Hall 1 Building, Messeplatz Basel (entrance through Time/Bank currency exchange) https://mnemoscape.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/tom-estes-overlords/

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Artist Statement

Born outside of Boston in The U.S.A, I moved to Paris and lived there for a couple of years before settling for London as my base of operations. As an artist my work has been hung, played and performed in a few of the world’s right places and a couple of deliciously wrong ones. There is a real Peter Pan Syndrome at play in my art work and I suppose I would consider myself a carnival sideshow conceptualist, combining a bare-bones formal conceptualism with an eternal adolescent comic-prank DIY- approach.

For me ‘fantasy’ and ‘illusion’ are not a contradiction of reality, but instead an integral part of our everyday lives. I have always leaned toward making work participatory or immersive in some way so while my practice is characterized by the mediums of photography, performance and installation, individual works can also be seen as part of a wider interdisciplinary project that incorporates innovative web conversations and social networks.

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