School of the Art Insititute of Chicago emerge Journal 20-21  School of the Art Insititute of Chicago emerge Journal 20-21  School of the Art Insititute of Chicago emerge Journal 20-21  School of the Art Insititute of Chicago emerge Journal 20-21

By Misha Neal


Over the course of this past year, what used to be easily defined boundaries have since become blurred. We work where we sleep and we sleep where we work. We attend class from our kitchen tables. We live online now, and virtual space is somewhere we go—a place where we seek community, connection, and exchange as a balm to our increased isolation. More people have had opportunities to engage with otherwise exclusive and inaccessible events and content. And in exchange, we’ve made ourselves more virtually accessible, too. What does this expanded access do for us? Does the power to stop, rewind, replay, or speed up reality leave us with more control, or less?

The works featured in “Virtual/Reality” explore this tension, providing us with a more nuanced understanding of technology’s impact in our lives today. Like Lisha Chen in Butter Keyboard, they lean into the slipperiness between virtuality and reality—asking us to question how the increasing intrusion of technology into our lives impacts us. The artists here refuse to categorize this change as inherently good or evil, but rather ask us to be present with paradox.
Over the course of this past year, what used to be easily defined boundaries have since become blurred. We work where we sleep and we sleep where we work. We attend class from our kitchen tables. We live online now, and virtual space is somewhere we go—a place where we seek community, connection, and exchange as a balm to our increased isolation. More people have had opportunities to engage with otherwise exclusive and inaccessible events and content. And in exchange, we’ve made ourselves more virtually accessible, too. What does this expanded access do for us? Does the power to stop, rewind, replay, or speed up reality leave us with more control, or less?

The works featured in “Virtual/Reality” explore this tension, providing us with a more nuanced understanding of technology’s impact in our lives today. Like Lisha Chen in Butter Keyboard, they lean into the slipperiness between virtuality and reality—asking us to question how the increasing intrusion of technology into our lives impacts us. The artists here refuse to categorize this change as inherently good or evil, but rather ask us to be present with paradox.

By: Misha Neal






 Lisha Chen /
In 2020, I’ve lived nearly my entire social life online. Looking to escape that, I made a performance artwork called An Uncontrolled Private expression: A Keyboard Made by Butter, where I made a keyboard out of butter with no characters. In this video I engraved letters on the keyboard randomly and then began typing. In the process, I kept hesitating because the letters are messy, and it took a long time for me to find a letter. By creating this out-of-control, cumbersome experience of personal expression, I sought to critique the way social media seeks to control its users.


"An Uncontrolled Expression:
A Butter Keyboard"



 Amay Kataria /
Conceptually rooted in Arthur Koestler’s book Ghost in the Machine, Tend Towards Infinity is an ideal representation of a structurally stable system. Composed using a precise computer algorithm, it’s an abstract expression of a discrete system of information laid in a hierarchical order, where each unit (rectangle) is working as a “whole” with self-assertiveness as well as a “part” to maintain the overall structural integrity of the system. Using this part-whole concept as a point of departure, this work reflects upon the systemic breakdown of economic, political, and cultural paradigms that glued us into a structurally stable society. Due to the pandemic, these systems have failed us and thrown the world into a spin. What would it take to build systems that work with a better sense of autonomy and coordination with other systems to create a more future-proof society?


"Tend Towards Infinity"








 Li Jiaqi /
"Our Television, Your Success"