“Welcome to the Simulation”, a solo show of new work by Belfast-based artist and screenprinter Leo Boyd.
5-26 May 2018
Of philosophy’s major preoccupations, trying to figure out what is real from what is a trick of the light, a shadow dancing on a cave wall, is up there with the biggies.
In 2003, Nick Bostrom wrote a paper titled ‘Are you living in a computer simulation?’ Which argued that we were much more likely to be bits of code on a future ancestor’s hard drive than not. His reasoning was hard to argue with and for a moment the world collectively lost its shit until people realised that there were only 3 obvious responses to the dilemma.
1) Go mental in order to escape a life of existential angst.
2) Spend your whole life (simulated or otherwise) trying to disprove the argument.
3) Realise that the dilemma is neither provable nor disprovable and, unless the world starts to decay like a badly pixelated jpeg, take the stance that the agnostic position is by far the most sensible.
Unsurprisingly choice No.3 won out and the world collectively got its shit together and carried on as if nothing had happened.
But what if this was not the case? What if our universe had been constructed in such a way that the simulation was obvious? What if we had known from the moment we invented clip art fire that we were an active software running on a substrate in the real? What if our universe was so obviously simulated that it was unthinkable that we would not see the pixelated wood from the bitmapped trees?
Welcome to the Simulation presents a series of cultural artefacts that span the Simulated Worlds’ history; from early tech worship etchings, mass produced sim erotica, pixelated agitprop to intimate portraits of simulated individuals. These artefacts tell the story of a world where the philosophical quest for the real is a moot point, a world where the fake and the fictional are held in the highest regard.
Presented as a collection of real artefacts from an unreal world this series of experimental screen prints aims to throw a satirical light on our own deep seated and often confused ideas of what it is to be real and asks ‘If you can’t tell the difference, what the fuck does it matter anyway?’