To some, it might seem blasphemous, but mother-daughter artist duo Kendra and Heather Fleischman along with the Denver Digerati have installed a likeness of a church at Denver Theatre District’s small art incubator, Understudy. The Little Chapel of Our Holy Motherboard, on view March 3 to March 30, 2018, asks viewers “where would we be without our beloved technology?” This month-long installation pivots between our religious attachment to devices and our increasingly irreverent attitudes toward non-technological items.
Situated in the fish-bowl-like studio of Understudy at the Colorado Convention Center, The Little Chapel of Our Holy Motherboard appears as an altar with one bench surrounded by TV monitors that loop colorful kaleidoscope videos. In front of the bench sits an epoxy-resin sculpture resembling the Madonna and the baby Jesus, but USB cords compose the Madonna’s hair and the baby is now a “cyber savior” with a TV screen for a face. Projected onto the ceiling above the monitors and altar is a typical depiction of a cartoon God (luxurious white hair and beard, sitting in the clouds). He shoots emojis lazily out of his fingertips while he glances at his gold smartphone.
The final piece of the installation is the prayer book that contains QR codes. Once scanned on your phone, these codes direct you to different websites online that relate to the “psalms” and prayers in the book. As Kendra (the mother) explained with a smile on her face, “this is the final moment in the experience, where we send people out to the Almighty Internet for answers.”
The Little Chapel of Our Holy Motherboard pokes fun at our reliance on technology while only using technology to send that message. The vehicle of religious iconography only serves as a metaphor for our devotion to our devices, social media and other technological advancements. Like religious zealots, we see technology as an all-knowing, all-seeing and almost faultless endeavor. Each TV monitor plays out a different video comparing our 21st Century fascinations with traditional religious scenes or figures. Make sure to watch each one carefully, as some of them change scenes multiple times. Begin with the “Blessed Lady of the Sacred Selfie” on the left and work your way right, ending with the 3D printing of the Last Supper.
The most visually pleasing aspect of the entire installation is undeniably the kaleidoscopic TV monitors. These signify the stained glass art in churches — a tactic used when illiteracy ruled the populace and people needed visualization of the sermons. As part of the tongue-in-cheek maneuvers the mother-daughter team flourish with, these TV monitors say everything in short animations, a nod to the illiterate masses. But even with the cheeky humor and possibly brazen ways of expressing our reliance on technology, these kaleidoscope-stained-glass TV monitors are downright hypnotizing.
The Fleischman team worked in association with Denver Digerati— the founders of the Supernova Outdoor Digital Animation Festival that started in 2016— in order to provide viewers of the installation a bigger network of international animators to connect with. As Supernova’s reputation and recognition grow in Denver, the possibilities for their digital endeavors have become more attainable. Denver Digerati founder Ivar Zeile searched out the Fleischman duo to showcase The Little Chapel of Our Holy Motherboard after seeing it at Currents New Media Festival in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 2017.
“I think most people will find it humorous, I hope. It is definitely tongue-and-cheek. It’s more about our dependence on our technology than a jab on religion,” Heather confided.
One of the first associations that comes to mind when seeing the clever antics of the Fleischmans is John Oliver’s Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight.” This skit of his was a funny but scathing critique of televangelists defrauding people of money in the name of religion. It was not a critique of religion, but of someone using religious faith in a manipulative and selfish way. The Little Chapel of Our Holy Motherboard is not a critique of technology or religion, but of people revering technology like a religion.