The xx Take On Technology in New Exhibit

Big Brother is watching. But can you really complain if you turned on the camera?


Open bars can be dangerous at art exhibitions, but fortunately for SONOS Studio on La Brea, the xx’s newest project didn’t exactly attract party animals. If anything, the ample booze was the perfect social lubricant, encouraging irony-soaked trendsetters to casually reinterpret music from one of this decade’s coolest bands. 

Last Thursday night, the gallery debuted “Missing,” an interactive installation curated entirely by the moody British pop trio. The project featured a small, intricate maze of 50 high-fidelity speakers playing music from the band as speakers mechanically tracked visitors’ movements, rotating to face anyone in their vicinity who was moving.

The project is described as a journey that evokes the “uncanny yet familiar feeling of being watched and followed by technology.” The crowd of 150 mildly intoxicated trendsetters simultaneously embodied and disrupted that intention. Rather than dwelling on the Orwellian notion of technology as a sinister, controlling force, “Missing” celebrates technology’s emerging role as a friendly and ubiquitous creature comfort. The laughs and cheerful conversations among visitors transformed the xx’s work into background music. As those who were waiting in line took pictures of those who were already weaving their way through the web of wires and speakers, the people became as much a part of the exhibit as the equipment.

Instead of depicting the omnipresent technology of modern life as a menace and a scourge, “Missing” posits a more optimistic relationship between technology and humanity. Walking a fine line between entertainment and art, the exhibition strikes just the right balance between cold math and good humor.

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