Week 7 | Artist Conversation: Brianna Meli

Brianna Meli is an undergraduate student and Long Beach State. She transferred to Long Beach from Fullerton College in 2012 and is studying Fibers in the School of Art. She is planning on getting her BFA after this school year and hopes to pursue her Master’s degree in library science. Meli’s inspiration for her exhibition featured in the Marilyn Werby Gallery at Long Beach State titled OVER_REALMED is drawn from her internal struggle with an attachment to technology. Meli had realized how attached she had become to technology, and realized that she needed to detach herself from it. Her struggle with the compromise of using technology as a tool and not allowing it to occupy her entire life are illustrated through this exhibition.

The big question that Meli poses with this exhibit is if her work as an artist will suffer if she detaches herself from internet platforms, and if her physical presence as a person will suffer if she does not. One of the pieces in this exhibit is what seems to be a sort of knitted scarf of chords and wires sitting on top of a chair that has been covered by a quilt, accompanied by a video that shows the artist creating the weaved object. The artist was also able to weave more chords and wires into pieces of actual fabric, in such a way that spells out the phrase “LOL… IDK”, showing acronyms that are heavily used with digital platforms. Another video displays a series of videos that show Meli with her head down, very focused on her phone.

These pieces of art illustrate the concept that people’s lives are very much consumed by technology. The fact that we are so busy building an online presence and connecting with other people online inevitably causes our physical presence in the world to suffer. Meli’s main concern with trying to detach herself from her phone and her laptop and other similar devices had to do with the fact that even though you are connecting with so many other people when you use digital platforms, at the end of the day, in reality you are alone in a room with a screen. Though it is important to the artist to have a real presence in the physical world and to have real connections with real people, she also makes it a point to recognize that when you separate yourself from technology, you essentially render yourself invisible from the world itself, only really knowing and keeping up with the people you see and talk to on an everyday basis.

I personally struggle with detaching myself from my phone very much. I always joke with my parents or anyone else who is old enough to truly remember a world in which technology didn’t rule majority of everyday life, saying that I can’t really imagine how I would be able to function on a daily basis without it. Though I may be joking when I say this, a part of me is being very serious. Majority of my friends and family live significantly far away from where I do, and I rely on technology to keep up and in touch with them. Not only do I use technology to connect with other people, but someone as directionally challenged as I am needs her GPS. Though I do see the need and helpfulness of technology, I do see where Meli’s concept is important at the end of the day. I think it is important for people to detach themselves from technology and really live their lives with who and what is actually in front of them. Meli’s idea of a sort of compromise between not using technology so much but recognizing its essential purposes in today’s society is something that I could definitely agree with and apply to my own daily life.

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