Inside GOCA’s Cybercy

The GOCA series of art installations explores humanity reinvented in the digital world. Here’s when to go and what to expect.

Just beyond the doors of GOCA 121, there is a giant white cube with a barber chair, a cart with scissors and shorn hair curled on the ground. A pink neon sign advertising “Psychic Barber” glows against the back mirror. Part of GOCA’s Cybercy series of shows, the Psyshic Barber exhibit reminds me of a secret room that you might find at Meow Wolf in Santa Fe. Beyond the black curtains lie two other rooms, each with a different exhibit. A large digital map represents the real-time internet trends of the Pikes Peak region in W3FI: Colorado Springs, and the film American Reflexxx explores the damaging effects of anonymity and dehumanization.

Cybercy: Exploring the Post-Internet Human Matrix explores the intersections of the physical and digital worlds, and the nebulous boundaries between the real and hyperreal. The name is a mashup of two words: Cyber, referring to the interconnected digital framework, and Prophecy, the study of the future. According to Curator Caityln Goebel, “The exhibit started as an opportunity for me to address a lack of critical discourse surrounding Post-Internet Art, but quickly evolved into something even more exciting: a way to explore our human experience in the digital age.” The three exhibits in the show invite viewers to examine their identities in the context of the hyperreal landscape of the digital arena. Goebel says she hopes that the exhibit will encourage viewers to “be more aware of each other and themselves in our postmodern, post-internet world.”

Here’s more of what to expect and explore in the exhibits and events of Cybercy.

W3FI: Colorado Springs

When I was in college in era of dial-up internet in the late 1990s, my computer professors prophesied a day when every building on campus would be connected by internet that flew through the air. I thought they were crazy. Chris Coleman and Laleh Mehran’s W3FI: Colorado Springs is a visual representation of this prophecy coming true. “The project will take the participants through a journey of understanding starting with consideration of how their digital self (we are using the term “S3LF”) impacts their everyday lives,” reads their artist statement.

A 3-D printed topographic map of the Pikes Peak region shows a digital representation of the number of routers coming online in the area since the early 2000s and the amount of broadband usage on a daily basis. The images are stunning, transforming from a few glowing spots that represent the early adopters into the intricate web of connectivity that surrounds the city today.

On the adjacent wall, Coleman and Mehran have harvested social media feeds into a spinning wheel of every tweet from the Colorado Springs community that features the words I or We. Viewers can read in real-time their fellow residents’ declarations, such as “We recommend it” and “I am able.” The exhibit invites viewers to examine how they create their own identities in the physical and digital worlds.

cybercy american reflexxx
Alli Coates & Signe Pierce. American Reflexxx. Film still. 2013. Courtesy of GOCA.

American Reflexxx

American Reflexxx is a 14-minute film that explores the effects of anonymity and mob mentality in our modern world. Directed by Alli Coates, the film features performance artist Signe Pierce strutting down a busy nighttime street in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, wearing a silver mask that completely obscures her face. With her identify hidden, the mobs of people that she interacts with respond to her in shocking ways, each encounter becoming increasingly ugly and violent. According to Nicole Anthony, the film highlights the consequences of what happens when anonymity fractures the connection to the real. Due to the intense nature of the film, viewer discretion is advised.

cybercy psychic barber exhibit
Finishing School Collective & Yucef Merhi. Psychic Barber at Side Street Projects. Pasadena, California. Multimedia installation and performance. 2013. Courtesy of GOCA.

Psychic Barber

During Cybercy’s May 5 opening, patrons lined up to have their hair cut by a psychic barber. The two clairvoyant stylists, Gina Kelly and Andye Murphy, did a private reading and consultation with each participant and then styled hair based on what they felt each person needed. The haircut took place in the glass booth, where viewers could watch what was happening but not hear the conversation. Nicole Anthony, GOCA’s community cultivation director, calls the experience of watching the interaction between stylist and patron “surprisingly emotional and intimate.” This Psychic Barber exhibit is a collaboration between the Finishing School art collective and artist Yucef Merhi. It was originally installed in multiple California locations.

The social sculpture will be reactivated on June 24 as part of Brilliant, GOCA’s annual gala. For that night only, people can line up on a first-come-first serve basis to get their hair cut by a different pair of psychic stylists. The number of available spots is limited, so get there early.

Cybercy Events

May 5–June 24
GOCA 121
121 S. Tejon St., Suite 100

First Friday Artist Talk
June 2, 5:30 p.m.
GOCA 121
Artists Chris Coleman and Laleh Mehran will discuss their W3FI exhibit.

ChitChat: Absinthe + Transhumanism
June 8, 7 p.m.
GOCA 121
Steven Winchell, executive bartender at The Warehouse, will talk about the green fairy, aka absinthe. Michaela Steen, UCCS director of the Visual Resource Center, will talk about transhumanism: the theory that humans can evolve beyond our current physical bodies through the use of technology.
$15, free for GOCA PAC and UCCS Students

June 24, 6 p.m. dinner, 8 p.m. party
GOCA 121
The annual party celebrates the genius of the Pikes Peak region and features art, technology, music and craft tastings.
Dinner + art party: $125 ($99 presale)
Art party only: $45 ($30)

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