In a world that continues to feel disconnected from one another, one artist continues to make strides toward adapting and changing this scene. From developing an AR performance through Instagram and making art accessible to all, to donating masks and contributing to support essential workers, and to creating a new cultural manifestation through art, Narine Arakelian does it all.
Narine Arakelian (born May 13, 1979, based in Venice, Italy and Los Angeles, USA) is an emerging contemporary artist who creates performance art, installation, painting, sculpture, video and environmental art. Arakelian’s work with technology, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and social media, connects virtuality with the grounded materialism and traditions of painting. Arakelian uses translation and a form of cultural overdubbing to affect a space of empathetic encounter. The artist’s exploration of feminism, identity and representation are filtered through interpersonal experience and empathetic response. Narine Arakelian is associated with Empathy Aesthetics, integral to the Altermodern in the post-pandemic era.
Since the start of coronavirus, sending everyone home has led to a new level of creativity for many - Narine takes it up a notch, combining art with philanthropy. The #LoveXXL360 campaign introduces the Love and Hope mask and the Paradise collection as this new form of work which, according to Richard Wearn, Professor of Art at California State University, Los Angeles, can be understood as “Empathy Aesthetics.”
This Instagram filter features a medical-style face mask with the words Love and Hope flashing across it. When the user opens and closes their eyes, stars are released across the screen, and when the user taps their forehead, a halo appears. If the sound is turned on, a voiceover from the artist herself will repeat the comforting words of Love and Hope. This filter aims to bring joy and comfort to those who use it during this pandemic, through an enduring message of hope. It succeeds - Arakelian’s soft tones gently reassure the user.
According to Wearn, “Narine’s work may be understood and defined in terms of Empathy Aesthetics, as she is utilizing the various social media platforms that arguably result in alienation as a means to promote empathy. She is a virus in the system attempting to reverse an outcome. Her work also speaks to the way we use attributes as a sign of reference when it is not. Think of the function of an app on a touch screen. Tinder = intimacy/sex, Google = knowledge; any object notion has been removed. We are left with attribute recognition through an app. We request and something turns up. The dynamic in recent work by Narine may be defined in a similar way. The artist is negotiating through text and imagery a new sensibility and message to humanity that is not transactional. Narine gifts through social media which works against transactions, which is built into the model of digital life.”
Through these filters, celebrities including AnnaLynne Mccord (90210), Kristin Bauer (True Blood, Once Upon a Time), Sofia Milos (CSI Miami), Briana Evigan (Step Up 2, 4, 5), Ellie Mumin and Tiffany Brouwer (Vanderpump Rules), Markus Molinari (Socialite), Courtenay Semel (Keeping Up with the Kardashians), Ruth Connell (Supernatural), and influencer Shannon K have posted the mask filter with the intention of raising awareness for the campaign, and as part of Arakelian’s push to donating more masks and PPE to health care workers.
Her efforts have shone in the success and popularity that this campaign has reached! Since the start of the campaign, she has donated more masks than anticipated. She has become the modern day changemaker and artist capable of adapting and shining in any form of art. Using social media to stand in solidarity, and creating a new social movement to bring people together in a time of distress. The AR filters use a dynamic QR code that can be found on Instagram under “#LoveXXL360” or on her Instagram @narinearakelianofficial.