sophia bartholomew & Emma Hicks find comfort in ambiguity in ‘Screen Ecologies’

Screen Ecologies

Art zine, sophia bartholomew & Emma Hicks, 44 pgs, $15

“What is enacted in online spaces? Objects circulate as stories, stories circulate as objects?” asks Screen Ecologies. The zine is a metalogue between its creators, wherein the conversation in process is itself an examination of its own conditions. In this case, it provides an interrogation of the digital platform through which Hicks and bartholomew interact. The pair began their conversations in residency together at The Banff Centre, but continued collaborating after each moved back to their respective homes in Australia and Canada. Screen Ecologies was built as a collaborative work, and as the authors say, “There’s something deeply comforting in the ambiguity of our conflated authorship.”

There is no distinction made between the voices of the two creators throughout. Concepts that are raised in one part are newly reflected upon in later sections. Thoughts seem to float by without context, punctuating stories that are both anonymous and deeply personal. Collectively these narratives and inquisitive moments (broken up with simple, evocative sketches that supplement and complement the text) create a dialogue that embodies the disjointed communication of a text chain or a Twitter feed, underpinned with the intimacy of two people engaging in a relationship of intellectual and artistic rigor. There are moments of real, juicy dissonance in the banal: “You go silent for a bit and I wonder if it’s frozen or you’re just being quiet and still.” This examination of communication over distance — physical, digital, and mental — rings true.