Nearly half a century ago Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “The Global Village” to describe a world he perceived just beyond the horizon. He was predicting a time when electronic interdependence and constant exposure to a flood of ideas would alter the root structures of human interaction — and though we’re far too close to those alterations to understand their full impact, something has definitely changed in the way that we exist within the global synaptic flow since the dawning of the information age.
The constant, pixilated stream has blown some of us flat over on our asses. Most of us (at least most of us who are my age or even more blessed by the attendant work of superannuation) understand how to wield the new digital media as a rudimentary tool. I’m trying to cage a metaphor and keep returning to “monkeys at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey.” But adaptation happens quickly in electronic evolution, so if you want to find someone who understands the artistry inherent in the technology now at hand, you only have to aim a few years younger.
Andü Abril is of this world. Her work (full digital compositions, digital collages and digital image-based transformations) utilize the new technology with skill and deftness, but more to the point, her work speaks in content to the interconnectedness of the age. Note that in many of Andü’s images, the central character is a source of growth. Branches (figurative or stylized) grow from the heart, the mind, the sense centers of the body, reaching out, seeking, discovering, exploring.
Andü’s instinctive turn to the metaphor of self as both an independent agent and also a node connected to a larger consciousness recalls to mind McLuhan’s other great aphorism: The Medium is the Message.
The community of digital artists, of which Andü is a part, is not bound by regional styles, nor are they tied to any specific school or tradition. Andü, born in Mexico City, raised in Spain and now living, teaching and creating in Guatemala, is as much a part of the digital art world in Harare or Hanoi as she is here.
And that world is her village. What she and the generation McLuhan predicted 50 years ago will do with this new interconnectedness is yet to be seen, but if we might glean some vague portents from Andü’s art, then there’s hope for this old planet, yet.