“To me, the L.A. river is an important symbol of the way the industrialization of Los Angeles has destroyed the environment and many of our homes,” Cortez, who lives in Highland Park, says. She created the work with pedestrians, both people and animals, in mind. “We all have concrete backyards instead of green areas.” In addition to Scacco and Cortez’s projects there are works by social historians and artists, including Carolina Caycedo, Andrea Chung, Nova Jiang, Star Montana, Gala Porras-Kim, and Tongva elder Julia Bogany and her great granddaughter Marissa Bogany.
“It’s a subversive project,” Cahill explains. “It doesn’t rely on permissions from institutions or on the institutions themselves. It exists outside of that.” Her vision to work outside conventional art spaces resonated with this particular group of artists. “I want the work that I make to move very far beyond gallery walls,” Scacco says.
“Defining Line” is an extension of “Coordinates,” a worldwide project that includes site-specific virtual works at the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, and along the U.S./Mexico border in Tijuana. As Cahill explains, “a piece that might mean one thing in a white cube, will mean something entirely different over the Rio Grande or Liberty Island.”
On Sept. 28, the day after Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Cahill placed a provocative drawing of a twisted female torso on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court with the all-caps text, UNPROTECTED. “I really interpret the body as a site of struggle and resistance,” Cahill says. “So I’ve been seeking an immersive experience for the viewer. I want to provoke an empathic, embodied reaction.”
“Our democracy is unprotected and under siege,” she continues. “And I think our bodies are under siege.”
She has installed virtual works in Las Vegas, at the site of the October 2017 shootings, and scattered throughout Los Angeles. In installing artworks on government sites, but virtually, she circumvents legal ramifications.
“I’m not interested in bureaucracy,” she explains. “I’m interested in action. And there’s an urgency to this moment. We have a crisis going on.”
While virtual art has sometimes elicited eye rolling reactions from art critics and curators, projects like Cahill’s 4th Wall show that the medium can apply the language of fine art to new media with subversive ends. The artist highlights that if VR/AR technology continues to enable “hyper-violent, militaristic, or pornographic [images], we allow it to be dominated by themes that don't contribute thoughtfully to culture,” Cahill explains.
“As artists, if we don't offer dynamic, thought-provoking alternatives, we cede that territory to commercial entities, likely unconcerned with the cultural consequences of their actions.”
Opens Nov. 4, 4thwallapp.org. For iPhone 6s or higher, Android devices with ARCore, and iPads.