VIRTUAL BODIES // the world to come


Opening Exhibition and Reception

Curated by Julia Bruk

Saturday, December 7
5 PM @ National Museum of American Jewish History

VIRTUAL BODIES // the world to come opens the conversations about how digital spaces allow representations of ‘bodies’ to exist in an eternal state within them. The parallels to the idea of the Jewish concept of the afterlife “The World to Come” (Olam Haba) where the “animal” soul (Nefesh) becomes a “perfect,” eternal soul (Neshama). Featuring Jewish-identifying artists, we step inside augmented Virtual Reality (VR) spaces, video art dichotomies, a social media-powered interactive sculpture, and digitally-created physical objects. These immersive experiences explore how permanence and eternity is represented through pixels, and how we use these tools to create, augment, and revitalize experiences relating to the body and our senses.

Consultation by Rabbi Dusty Klass.

VIRTUAL BODIES // a world to come features works by seven established and emerging new media artists:

This pop-up exhibition will also be on view Sunday, December 8 from 12 – 6 PM.

Curatorial Statement

“In a growing digital world, the topic of “human” becomes even more complicated, as our limbs extend through mobile phones, identities are reconstructed with every social media outlet, and our emotions compartmentalized with emoticons, likes, and hashtags. A physical self no longer is enough. Communication has become exponentially more complicated because of the over-saturation of tools available to us for expression. As a Jewish immigrant, connecting to my ancestors and their eternal presence through Jewish culture is something that keeps me grounded. When these communities extend digitally, do we lose sense of our bodies and connection to our past? Or do these tools open up new opportunities to reach farther and deeper to communities around the world? We are cluttering the digital cloud with conversations, memories, and created digital artworks, all artifacts of who and how we are — but what kind of care are we giving our digital histories and the bodies we create within them? Since the digital cloud is an endless, eternal space with no limits, are we maintaining perspective of what is really being communicated? What if we now arrive to The World to Come as not only our eternal souls, but all the selfies we have permanently posted online as well? What “soul” does our “eternal” body belong to in modern society and the Jewish history we now write? When we create content and put it into The Internet of Things, are we playing “god”and what responsibilities do we hold?”

-Julia Bruk