Rune Bering describes his artistic practice as that of an excavator and editor. Among technological developments, marketing strategies and political agendas, he unearths and stages the systems behind everyday objects and imagery. He is interested in the universal hopes, desires and stereotypes that permeate these structures. For his exhibition freedom and happiness at inter.pblc, Bering uses butterflies to show the entanglements of nature, digital capitalism and human behaviour. The digital and the physical can’t be separated, their ecosystems are enmeshed and interconnected, shaping one another. Freedom and Happiness are the two most effective tags for selling butterfly stock images. These images of butterflies are in turn used to sell freedom and happiness. As indicators of the well-being of their habitat, butterflies vanish from the real world and thrive online. The butterfly is a symbol of metamorphosis: the enigmatic transformation from one life stage to a new one – from caterpillar to pupa to butterfly. In the exhibition, Bering adds another phase to this development. 12 butterflies which previously existed on Danish meadows but are now extinct, are resurrected digitally in the exhibition space. Here the butterflies fly around the insect trap inspired neon signs as signals sent out by 12 routers. The signals extend the physical sculptures and become part of the digital space. We can’t feel or see them, but they are present in the gallery and beyond. Through the digital devices of the exhibition visitors, their signal presence can be exposed. The fossilized pedestals of router packaging speak of the physical traces the digital leaves behind for the future. Bathed in the green neon light of the traps, even the butterflies in Bering’s pencil drawing are about to disappear through the portal of a glowing screen.
Text by Natalie P. Kerner, Photography by David Stjernholm. All images copyright and courtesy of the artists and inter.pblc