Theme “Metamorphoses – Tales of the Ever-changing” – Anna Lindal, Editor of VIS Issue 7

Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning in his bed transformed into a gigantic beetle and becomes an object of disgrace to his family, an outsider in his own home, an alienated man. Kafka’s startling, bizarre and darkly humorous story uses the trope of metamorphosis to delineate a key predicament of the modern condition.

Art that deals with transformation and Metamorphosis (originally a term describing a more-or-less abrupt developmental change in the form or structure of an animal) has been present throughout millennia. The Latin poet Ovid’s tales from the Greek myths are linked by the idea of transformation and have inspired countless writers, artists and musicians down the centuries. Indeed, one could say that the idea of transformation underpins almost all human creation and expression.

But how do we relate practices of transformation in art to our own time, where change is increasingly present in everyday life, and the capacity to change and adapt is seen as a vital part of the strategies for survival of societies evolving at a furious pace? The sensation that the world is at a tipping point, at which every step in any direction is of crucial importance, becomes more pressing with every day. In addition to this, transformations of our inherited ways of living and working, travelling – and even creating – confront us on every side.

In such a universally metamorphic world, is the trope of metamorphosis still relevant or has it become obsolete? Has our post-internet era, where time, information and art are seamlessly intertwined and the dramaturgy of directions, development and transformation permeates our lives, made the concept of metamorphosis as a decisive intervention in an otherwise smooth continuum one that is outmoded and unnecessary? Or, conversely, are contemporary artistic processes particularly well-suited to deal with this ever-present dynamism through their innate capacity to transform matter and ideas, change directions and viewpoints, and bend reality, time and consciousness?

For this issue of VIS, we invite you to submit your own thoughts, perspectives and artistic creations of the theme of metamorphosis in all its connotations – those outlined here and others that may be important to you. From these, we hope to construct a volume that will embody the ways in which the modes of disseminating artistic research are themselves subject to flux and metamorphosis.