The title of this exhibition, The 15 Cmdments, derives from 15 different Macbook keyboard shortcuts one is able to perform using the ‘cmd’ key e.g. Command-C = Copy. 15 Artists have been invited to choose one of the 15 as a starting point to generate a new work.
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We all know what Ctrl-Alt-Delete does. It's a simple way, by pressing three keyboard keys, to escape a whole host of blue screen nightmares and crashed computer programs. But could this act of prioritising the immediate over the permanent have more societal repercussions than one might originally believe…
We have a shortcut culture. From our schools to public institutions we practice and encourage immediacy and shortcuts. Society has taught us all our lives to make as little effort as possible, yet to find and reach what we want, when we want it, in a way that suits us best. It’s a rather natural ‘shortcut reflex’. This has been encouraged and nurtured by our unlimited access to information, technology, money and kindred spirits, which has been largely facilitated by social media and sharing.
The keyboard shortcut could be said to be a symptom, and perhaps even an enabler, of this culture. In computing, a shortcut is a series of one or several keys that cause an event when triggered by the user. In a landscape, if your friend reveals they’ve found a new shortcut to your local pub, you’re delighted by the time you will save now and in all subsequent trips. Yet in society, a shortcut could mean jumping a red light, cheating on an exam or taking performance enhancing drugs…all these examples are built within the frame of disrespect for the consequences. But when it comes to something like sport there are some discrepancies in how people feel about certain shortcuts; the phrase “if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying hard enough” was made famous by former Chicago Cubs first basemen, Mark Grace and perfectly captures this divide. If you’re cutting the course in order to make it shorter for yourself, you’re showing that you’re actually trying a little bit harder than everyone else, right? How is it different from those with natural abilities or simply longer legs? What is one supposed to do if they’ve committed their life to this and the results never come? And how are they supposed to feel about all of the sacrifices they’ve made if their highest aspirations have yet to be realised? Should they quit? Or should they try just a little harder? What’s one more sacrifice?
There are multiple ways to interpret this notion, whether positive or negative, in reference to politics or sport, we hope to present a broad variety of works navigating this language of ‘the shortcut’.