Where Tech Meets Mysticism

In a new exhibition, artists are exploring the connections between ancient beliefs and futuristic systems.

While technological progress is often seen as damaging to the environment, artists, Indigenous activists and hackers were trying to reclaim technology for their own, esoteric purposes, said Fabiane Borges, a Brazilian researcher and member of a network called Tecnoxamanismo. That collective organizes meetings and festivals in which participants use devices including D.I.Y.-hacked robots to connect with ancestral belief systems and the natural world.

In the “Technoshamanism” show in Dortmund, several works offer the viewer trippy visions. Morehshin Allahyari’s V.R. work “She Who Sees the Unknown” conjures a sinister female djinn; at the artist’s request, the V.R. headset is worn lying down in the darkened space so that the malevolent spirit hovers menacingly over the viewer. Another work, experienced through augmented-reality glasses, leads the viewer through a meditative ritual in a gigantic papier-mâché shrine, weaving a spiraling light path with video holograms.

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