|"Do you want to impress
your new Jewish general manager? Has a new Taliban invasion
been announced? Do you think your life as a good Christian
is jeopardized? Would you like to become a Buddhist for
a few hours to blend in at the trendy New Age dinner you
are going to next week?" With these few simple and
straight forward queries, a group of artists from Italy,
are introducing their project "Plug'n'Pray".
According to Lionello Borean, one of the artists who collaborated
at this piece, Paris was a strong source of inspiration
as it seemed to be the place where" a certain kind
of religious tolerance was acceptable or at least possible".
Although the project functions as an e-commerce parody,
marketing software for instant religious conversion, the
audience might find itself asking questions on world tolerance
or freedom of choice.
At a time when digital media is everywhere and information
is reached with a click of a button, notions such as social
identity, globalization, geographical or cultural space,
are brought up and defined by net artists around the world
in their quest to break down temporal and spatial barriers.
Among these important issues, religion has always been
an important tool in the formation and preservation of
political powers around the world, representing a strong
link between social and economic control. The word "religion"
comes from the Latin "religion-, religio", meaning
supernatural constraint, sanction, defining a system of
attitudes, beliefs or practices; a system which, to most
of us represents a cause, a principle held with ardor
and faith. With the aid of technology, the artists bring
forward the concept of religious conversion in an e-commercialized
- form -like art piece. The audience can easily pick and
choose a religion such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism,
Muslimism, or Christianity by purchasing on-line and installing
on their PC the kit that best suits their wishes and needs.
The web site offers everything a consumer would need in
order to switch to a new religion and, rather ironically,
it is better conceived and equipped than any other product
-selling online portal. "Plug'n'Pray" offers
online assistance, explanations, rips from the pros, "cultural
tips and tricks" and with each kit one receives The
Holy Book, the software, the quick Converter, software
guides and many more.
Why would anyone convert to a different religion? There
are all kinds of people from every religion who convert
everyday to other religions. They all claim that having
done so gives them some kind of psychological fulfillment.
Even people who follow cults make this claim. All true
Religions, those which have been revealed, come through
the higher minds of their founders. They are in a more
intimate and a more spiritual contact with reality. Religion
is about spirituality and therefore the main reason people
should change religion should be a spiritual one. The
irony of "Plug'n Pray" is found in the way that
the artists find the reasons of conversion to be anything
but spiritual, and subtly define traits of the human character:
hypocritically many people choose things in life which
work for their economic or social benefits but state otherwise.
They find that people should convert because they need
"to grab the chance for a career outlook", are
"working abroad" or need to gain "a new
respectability" in society. The project is an open
invitation to alter your social identity, to gain a new
understanding of the social order and globalization, or
rather to "start your own holy war".