‘The Influencers Mean No Harm’ by Daniel B. Dias @ Zevitas Marcus

May 6, 2019

With Zevitas Marcus’ latest opening, Daniel B. Dias most poignantly coyly and playfully critiques our contemporary society head-lurching over blue screens with his eponymous exhibition. We have faint resemblances of surreal gestures which intensify the odd absurdities of our current lives being over-powered with electronic power, no doubt changing our sense of being human, which Mr. Dias is keen to artfully represent.

The artwork Influencers Mean No Harm itself is the worthiest expression of this confusing intersection in history. In this instance, Mr. Dias does a remarkable job in emphasizing the desultory space between one generation and the next. The older generation, while a bit melodramatically embellished with stodginess, whom still remembers rotary phones, is cleverly segregated with a different perspective than the younger generation who is haunted at the perviousness of “influencer” personalities beaming from his mobile telephony who are more substantially ethereal than physical. The startled pose by the young man is a poetic sickness. His self-examining uncertainties are palpable: What is more real? What is the present tense? The artwork prompts us with a query: is this schism in society between the analog and the digital healthy?

Mr. Dias may have answered ominously but, like all great artists who play with their worlds as cats do to captured field mice, there is a continuous jocular treatment with this frenzied interference of our social reality with information technology. Indeed, the exquisiteness of Mr. Dias’ work is the affirmation of the innocuousness of vigorous spirits who saturate the online world of humanity. For with his innocent declaration of their intentions, we have a declaration of the innocence of the human spirit – that its motivations, however apparently short-sighted and selfish, are natural and therefore accordingly good. This optimistic interpretation of the zeitgeist of social media flux does not abdicate any immediately present cravenness and piranha feasting of fleshy attention spans. But it is to provide proper context, a la Leibniz’s Theodicy’s central thesis on the meaning of the best possible world: there is always a bigger picture being painted amidst the dark and maybe troubling paint-swirls of life.

Mr. Dias also shows himself at truly masterful comfort with his artistry with his successfully delicate interplay of mixed media in two other works which complement this critical interpretation. An Ode to This Life is a self-deprecating moment of clarity, to rattle our sense of normalcy saturated in artificial illumination. And it cannot go unnoticed the purposeful disillusionment we can feel with the subject’s moment of realization; the long pause and digestion of whether this solitary confinement, albeit with a digital doppelganger, is considered historical progress. But it’s with Mr. Dias’ clever use of mixed media in representing the idling time of the subject’s machined lifestyle which is superb; and not just for the novelty’s sake, for his ingenious added texture to the composition is done so minimally; but for its elegant expression of favoring the immanence of a human presence which is corporeal and outside of the screens which can shackle and confine – perhaps it is this moment of clarity that is being resolved inside the mind of the subject.

It Was Allowed In is another self-deprecating critique of how contorted our society is around possessing a digital presence. It is a time capsule of the utmost fulfillment of Shakespeare’s affirmation of the world as a stage. And how does the commoner, now bestowed with the power to captivate an audience, act like? Is the conscientiousness in playing on a stage in the most mundane aspects of life a gesture of glory or profanity? Again, a typical anxiety is in a luddite estimation of this newfound technology demolishing the prospects of a fecund posterity. But Mr. Dias calmly enables us a more confident proximity to the absurd unrestraint of this new form of “socializing”.

It must be noted the painted fluidity of the protagonist’s corporeal form acting as a sort of dissolution of our material world – which indeed information technology cordially participates in. With this transcendental movement in the artwork, we have an affirmation of the technology augmenting the human condition; of the potency of the convergence of minds onto a singular point in time and space unobstructed by the limits of material physics. This outright dominance over physical limitations performed so tepidly in a ramen shop is a harbinger of greater dramatics that may be played on the world stage with this same technological potential. Yet Mr. Dias is prudent to remind ourselves not to become imprisoned within this broadcasting power with his replenished ingenuity of adding threaded texture to his composition. His repeated elegance goes unnoticed – which is a masterful subtlety a less confident hand would be anxious to leave so muted  – yet it is pivotal in understanding this Herculean artistic balance: to embrace technology because it serves a higher, natural purpose, which is forever beyond what we can imagine to be worthwhile human drama.

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