Soft Power (Arcadia Inc.)

2021

digital simulation

Soft Power (Arcadia Inc.) is a work of speculative fiction which responds to the use of landscape photography as a carrier for brand ideologies, on the computer desktop and beyond. The piece proposes the synthetic landscape as a clean, context-free alternative to nature imagery, through a group of virtual beings which photograph scenic beauty in a real-time simulation.

Soft Power (Arcadia Inc.) was part of SPRING/BREAK Art Show in New York, as a solo show curated by Lizzy Chiappini. For the duration of SPRING/BREAK, all photographs taken by virtual beings within the simulation were uploaded to https://soft-power.online.

A previous framing of the project involved a fictional company which claims to offer "context-free landscape photography for the 21st century user". You can learn more about Arcadia Inc. as a company by visiting http://arcadia-inc.org, or by listening to my thesis presentation.

Related Work:
What Does the Desktop Want?, a talk I gave at the 2021 Computer Mouse Conference
Human Interface Guidelines (Metaphor), a two-channel video
24 Hours Relaxing Landscape for Stress Relief, a three channel video

The Arcadia Inc. virtual beings introduce themselves.

Un-edited screen recording of the softpower.exe real-time simulation (video + sound). Time was sped up in this instance of running the simulation – one full day cycle happens in 1 hour.

Still from the softpower.exe real-time simulation.

Stills from the softpower.exe real-time simulation.

SPRING/BREAK 2021 installation view; the show curator, Lizzy Chiappini, selected seven photographs taken by the virtual beings to print at high resolution on aluminum dibond, in conjunction with displaying the real-time simulation as a single-channel video of infinite duration. (image by Lizzy Chiappini)

32W,560S, UV Print on Aluminum Dibond, 20” x 15” (50.8 x 38.1cm)

1967W,9N, UV Print on Aluminum Dibond, 20” x 15” (50.8 x 38.1cm)

Photograph taken by a virtual being, displayed on the soft-power.online website with metadata revealing environmental conditions within the simulation.

Photograph taken by a virtual being, displayed on the soft-power.online website with metadata revealing environmental conditions within the simulation.