Ghost Weight Experience, Solo Exhibition: 21.05.21-13.06.21 Coleman Project Space, London

Ghost Weight Experience is an immersive gallery installation and interactive virtual-reality (VR) experience devised by Andrea G Artz and supported by an Arts Council England Lottery grant. Exploring ideas around death, memorialization and photography, this solo exhibition has been created in collaboration with composer Isa Suarez, (sound design, composition), writer Veronica B. (scripting, narrative development) and digital artist Alejandro Escobar (VR development).

As the title implies, Artz’ focus is on the poetic aspects of our human rituals for remembering and the old- and new-world processes that allow us to retain, or even foster, connections with the departed. Artz is intrigued by the fact there is still something of the old belief ‘the camera steals your soul’ about portrait practices; the sense of having been ‘captured’. From Victorian memento mori, to the aspirational family studio portrait and the endless proliferation of smart-phone selfies, images of people continue to exist, long after they’re gone. Developed from a previous 2018 installation ‘Ghost Weight’, this ambitious multi-work references a range of photographic settings through history, offering new perspectives on and details of its protagonists – a motley vintage group originally immortalised in found photos.

For ‘Ghost Weight Experience’, CPS becomes a site for investigation into the fictionalised lives of these characters and the power of photography to shape our personal and collective stories. The gallery’s Shed Space serves as the photo-studio home of a narrated, sound-scaped VR experience using Oculus technology. Meanwhile, the main gallery operates as a showroom of imagery and sculptural curios relating to the installation, including a model of the Soulgrapher Animator chair – the main physical component of this fictional ‘travel machine’.

Once through the main gallery and into the Shed Space, the viewer is invited to participate in a playful interactive process, designed as if to enable the possibility of entering a ‘bardo’ or afterlife state as a living person, and thereby achieving what Artz calls ‘ghost weight’. As operator of the Soulgrapher Animator, which also incorporates a Graflex camera and flash, one is able to engage with the artist’s digitally altered portraits in a three-room, contemporary virtual setting, freed from the cold, dead stasis of the still photograph (text by Rebecca Geldard for Coleman Project Space).

Fantastic experience, there was a real sense of escapism and the Afterlife.

This was lovely so much we don’t know but the experience brings some kind of memory whether this is from hearing or reading – the feeling was dreamy and some times emotional meeting characters that the mind links to someone you nay have known but not with us anymore. Looking forward to more guys.

Wonderfully childlike experience. I felt as if I was in a children’s pop-up book. Truly magical, would love to work with you with my collages. Thank you. I felt very happy.

Interactive Virtual Reality Experience with a sound design by Isa Suarez, 2021