Tumblr matriculant and conceptual artist Bogosi Sekhukhuni explores ideas around emergent technologies and ancient world knowledge in his work. His art is underpinned by the idea that the youth of today will be instrumental in leading society to a greater level of consciousness in the future. On Saturday 5 December Bogosi will be making his way to the Heineken® Next Level Bar in Braamfontein, which has popped up in the Jozi to launch the sleek new Heineken® 330ml Cool Can. Bogosi will #OpenNextLevel in the bar with a live music and projection-based performance. In anticipation, we chatted to this futuristic conceptual artist about his work and influences, Virtual Reality, and how he uses computers as spiritual tools.
How do your real life experiences impact how you manoeuvre and (re)present yourself online?
The experiences overlap a lot, as is the case I’m sure for most people, sometimes my URL experiences feeds into my IRL experience and vice versa. I don’t think about it too much because that tends to take me down a dark path, the internet has an interesting way of illuminating aspects of your self you might not have accessed otherwise.
What message is your art concerned with expressing?
I was born on this planet to bring light. My work explores themes around emergent technologies and ancient world knowledge. Throughout this discourse is the idea that black youth and the youth of the world are destined to lead our societies to higher levels of experience and communion. In the last chapter of my Dream Diary Season 1, called Dream Diary 6 (2013), I used a David Icke excerpt where he describes a generation of South Africans who will rewrite history as the basis for an allegory I’ve been building over a few years; a MXIT generation of genetically evolved born frees who are gradually changing this country and continent.
You were recently invited to participate in a Virtual Reality workshop as part of the African Futures Festival. Can you tell us about this next level experience and what you think the future of VR is in Africa?
The workshop was really informative and has sparked ideas for creative projects in the near future. It’s hard to predict these things but what I’m certain of is that the application of VR that consumers make will be even greater than we can speculate. We could predict social media but nobody knew how impactful the technology would be in the world.
Will you be incorporating VR into your work? Any ideas/work-in-progress reports to share?
Definitely! I cant say much but when it happens it’ll happen.
Having explored cyber identities and avatar selves in your art, and now experimented with VR, what are some of the overlaps, differences, or exciting conceptual potentials of these fields?
There are lots! How we choose to represent or create ourselves online is an exploration of Self. A lot of people get that, but I wish more people would be conscious of the opportunities that these new tools offer. On an industrial level there’s the chance to enhance and create more freedom for the user experience.
You’ve been commenting on the fading illusion of the Rainbow Nation in your work for some time. Do you have an ideas on what the future of this country might look like (IRL or virtually)?
I think South Africa is headed for a major U-turn. We’ll reach a point where we’ll need to shed our desire to live up to the capitalist agenda and start from scratch, I think this will be a painful process but at the same time will foster an age of rapid intellectual progress and cultural imaginings, like changing our name! I don’t understand what a South Africa is.
We’ve seen various movements such as #BlackLivesmMatter and more recently #FeesMustFall gain significant momentum through social media. What role do you think the internet plays in mobilising and actualising socio-political ideals?
The internet is speed of thought and has a way of propelling what seems to be the collective consciousness into action, but unlawful survellence practices is another side to this story that I think is deliberately unaddressed. And we need to educate ourselves about what it is about our digital lives that we actually OWN. Facebook is the new “I can offer you exposure” play and in this era, information is the greatest commodity, so what does it mean when we don’t own our social media content? Bruce Sterling writes about the development of a new kind of omnipresent corporation called “Stacks”. Such a corporation is made up of ‘users’ who work for the corporation. We say we use Facebook and Google, but we actually work for them.
You’ve referred to yourself as a tech healer. Can you tell us a bit more about this interesting title and what it means?
I started an agency this year with Nolan Dennis and Tabita Rezaire called NTU which actively researches and develops ideas that exist in the intersection of emergent technologies, spirituality and contemporary art. Tech Healer is one of a numbers of titles we’ve been playing around with to describe what we do.
On what level and in which ways is your work a spiritual experience?
I use spiritual tools like computers. Spirituality is a bigger idea than its relationship to religion. A part of spirituality is a very specific acknowledgement of one’s place in an environment and to other objects or beings. My studio practice has been drawing more and more from ideas in Bantu philosophy and older African teachings about the nature of reality. It’s helped me grow into understanding why and how things happen as they do while developing work.
What do you have in store for us at the Heineken® pop-up bar?
The performance will be live music and projection based. I have a musical project with a colleague called ANGELBOYZ, and we’ll be releasing it on contemporary art online magazine, Dis magazine, at the end of the month so the performance will be orientated around that.
What next level goals have you set for yourself?
I just want to get my work to the highest level of exellence that speaks for itself and inspires the next generation.
Catch Bogosi at the Next Level Bar in Smit Street, Braamfontein on Saturday, 5 December from 7pm onwards.