Kareem Lotfy and Brenna Murphy Aestheticize the Tech Excess


The exhibition “ParameterChant” at Future gallery is like a missed generation’s song of war. Artefacts of a long-forgotten consultation with the “youth of today” are placed within the space. Brenna Murphy’s maquettes visualize a world we should have had; peace, serenity and unequivocal beauty are words that come close to these digital wonders. As Apple is crowned as the most valuable company on earth and the end of natural resources is predicted for 2050, the power of industrially manufactured nature is no longer the precursor to all good sci-fi novels, but could in fact be the very reason why we carry on fighting for survival.

LiquidLadderSequencer, 2015 Brenna Murphy Framed archival pigment print 51 x 68 cm
LiquidLadderSequencer, 2015. Brenna Murphy. Framed archival pigment print, 51 x 68 cm

Placed on digitally printed fleece mats, rhythmic tessellations and geometrical forms filled with rainbow hues not too dissimilar to the well-known Apple loading button, “the beach ball of doom”, make up the cosmic landscapes of Murphy’s work. She places paragons of her own makings on mirrored sheets, allowing the objects to mimic the ancient ruins of Inca or Mayan sites at first glance. Yet, on closer inspection they take on a puzzle-like quality, as if nature itself was a Rubik’s cube waiting to be finally aligned, once and for all.

Kafka, 2015 Kareem Lotfy Acrylic face mounted print 150 x 107 cm
Kafka, 2015, Kareem Lotfy. Acrylic face mounted print, 150 x 107 cm

Reflective surfaces play a strong role in both artists’ works but neither allows the viewer to be reflected, as you would see yourself in a traditional mirror. Reducing your involvement or ability to see yourself in the parallel universe is key to the show. In fact Kareem Lotfy’s pieces always seem to be hinting that you will never be able to look into his world; many consumer friendly motifs are skewed or inflated, pumped up and dripping from the Diasec boards. The text in Arabic that is plastered onto the walls takes on a wild, graffiti lettering style; putting non-Arabic speakers in a hindered position- where you can read it as a discourse but really only understand it as an aesthetic. As an Egyptian artist in a European context, he seems to be mocking the assumptions we have in understanding eastern culture. Lotfy notes in the press release he encounters first hand, the fixed identity ascribed to Arabic countries throughout the western art world. He explores these problems of language and our tools of understanding that are predominantly rooted in digital technology. “7iji Waterfalls”, 2015 seems to reflect on these ideas of misperception; the video is just under two minutes long and casually displays an unseen hand flicking through a menu of windows featuring manga style action routines. You never know the source or the reason for the violence or the moral conquest behind the actions, it’s just the spectacle – easily seen and easily flicked past.


Like M.C. Escher or Brigit Riley before them; Murphy and Lotfy create impossible constructions of infinity, architecture, reflection and perspectives that are visually strong and intuitive to their own singular mindsets. Yet, unlike the others, they have entire worlds available to them at the click of a button or the thread of a feed. “ParameterChant” is set in a place of elaborate beauty, identification of the digital, materiality and technological excess and what better way to look at the new world when faced with the plights of the old.


Text by Penny Victoria Rafferty

“ParameterChant” is at Future gallery, Berlin, until 28 November 2015

More: A New World: How Japanese Photography Reshaped Conceptual Art

More: Ann Veronica Janssens Forges the Possibility of Infinite

Italians do it better: Reda celebrates its 150th anniversary