“I know it’s shameful but eh, it’s a living”
-Bugs Bunny, 1955
Pilot+Projects is pleased to announce Today’s Modern Office, a solo exhibition by Chicago based artist Chris Collins, curated by Olivia C. Williams. Experience the mythical “Future of Work” in this evolving, collaborative, user-generated installation featuring an interactive VR narrative told through an ever-expanding universe of videos, objects, and virtual environments; an exercise in world-building that's part speculative sci-fi, part slapstick comedy, part durational performance.
See that vast, infinite white void? Welcome to your new office. So comfortable. So spacious. It’s like if Jony Ive designed the Matrix. Time to get to work! I’ll be honest with you, the pay isn’t great and the hours are long, but on the bright side the work is rewarding, and you’re making all sorts of new friends: pesky drones who are always trying to steal your coffee, a family of helpful Alexa-style personal assistants (called “Data Droplets”), a herd of electric sheep, a rare board game from your childhood, and a mysterious tiny man encased in a block of ice.
Through virtual reality, Collins borrows from internet aesthetics of “Let’s Play” videos, tech demos, unboxing videos, and “productivity hacks”, as well as from the slapstick sensibility of a silent-film or a Looney Tunes cartoon. His darkly comic work sits at this intersection, attempting to find poetry, humor, and logic from within this awkward squirm of digital culture. Collins is infinitely fascinated by networked technologies as a cultural force and site of many inherent contradictions: a place of beauty and banality, empowerment, surveillance, and commodification. Collins uses this technology to explore a particular contemporary moment: A time of anxiety, awkwardness, and unease, where the tools that still promise to enlighten, connect, and secure us are weaponized to confuse, alienate, and make our future more tenuous (and is that a feature or a bug?). It’s an open-world sandbox that takes place entirely at a single desk. It’s “Work/Life Balance: The Game.” It’s Pee-Wee's Playhouse-meets-Black Mirror. It’s an MMORPG - only nobody else is online.
Chris Collins is an artist based in Chicago where he is a lecturer at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and The University of Illinois at Chicago. He’s shown extensively both in the states and abroad, including the Museum of the Moving Image, The Musieums Quartier in Vienna, The Goethe Institut, The Neuberger Museum, The MCA, MDW, CAC, CS13, WFMU, WLPN, SFMOMA(’s blog), and other places both with and without acronyms. His work has been written about in the New York Times, as well as on Rock Paper Shotgun, Rhizome, and others.
Olivia C. Williams is an artist and curator based out of Philadelphia. She has been Pilot Projects’ curatorial assistant for two years, and recently graduated from Tyler School of Art with a BFA in Sculpture. Williams’ interests lie in how technology and humor can be used to process trauma, and lives her life as @luxurytrash2.0 online. She would like to thank her cat, Jimmy, for endlessly supporting her.