Slow down, pause, be patient. These are Nima’s invitations to the viewer. The artist’s multi-channel video and sound installation, operation.wtf (2019), provides an experience of alternative versions of time––where time is dramatically slower, faster, and in some cases imperceptible. Nima entices us with puzzling questions as the work unfolds: what is real, and what is fake? How can we make sense of reality through this virtual lens? These questions arise, though the answers may evade us. Everything deemed profoundly ordinary––small gestures, simple spaces, monotonous sounds, invisible feelings––emerge as mysteriously meaningful. A four-channel video installation with a complex soundscape, operation.wtf is presented on a floor-to-ceiling mount welded by the artist. The videos appear on horizontally and vertically oriented monitors that surround the viewer in an immersive virtual landscape. The soundtrack—a mosaic of electronic music and other sounds—distracts us as we try to make sense of the imagery. The artist uses found footage and video games as his visual source material. In one channel, we are slowly led through a digital rendering of a desolate landscape. The two center monitors incorporate found footage of riots and protests alongside manipulated imagery: video game soldiers dancing seductively in an empty, war-torn village; a crowd of police officers positioned against a green screen backdrop, falling one-by-one to the ground as if shot. The fourth channel gives us various perspectives of urban landscapes as we move swiftly between spatial planes. Nima’s cacophonous score enhances the unsettling feeling of these otherworldly places. A collection of soundbites and electronic noise, created in collaboration with Mexican producer Wasted Fates, imbues the videos with an atmosphere of both stillness and anxiety. Intentionally overwhelming our senses, the artist invites us to develop our own emotional associations with the imagery and sounds. The installation prompts us to ask: how do landscapes and social spaces, both real and virtual, psychologically alter us? An avid collector of footage, Nima has built a cache of references driven by impulse and curiosity. Rather than gathering these materials with the aim of producing a fully rendered work, the artist collects in a recursive manner, to return to and meditate on the tenuous connections between materials. In operation.wtf, Nima incorporates pieces of his collection: found footage of violent encounters with police and burning debris, juxtaposed with imagery pulled from popular video games. Viewed together, these fragments are re-inscribed with new meaning, opening up a dialogue on documenting, recording, and re-presenting in digital formats. Here, Nima creates a multisensory experience of a world that is familiar and strange all at once. By deconstructing and reorganizing bits of images and sound, he calls attention to the subjective nature of sensory experience. As we slow down and watch the video unfold, we are confronted with the ways we simultaneously consume and construct our own realities through an endless series of actions and reactions. We are reminded of the limits of our perception and the complex marriage between real and virtual experience.


Text by
Rachel Urbano