Post-Internet art exhibition held in Beijing

 

 An exhibition titled “Art Post-Internet” is under way in the Central Gallery of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in the 798 Art District, Beijing. The exhibition runs until May 11, 2014.

Dara Birnbaum, Computer Assisted Drawings: Proposal for Sony Corporation, 1992–1993, 16 drawings, plexiglass and custom aluminum frames, 150*35*2 cm (4 pieces). Photos: Billie Feng

Just as modernism concerns itself with the relationship between craft and the emerging technologies, the most important phenomena underlying contemporary culture may be the omnipresence of the Internet. This exhibition presents a broad survey of art created with a consciousness of technological and human networks, from conception and production to dissemination and reception. The works, primarily produced by artists based in New York, London and Berlin, has been controversially defined as “post-Internet”.

“Post-Internet” doesn’t refer to a time after the advent of the Internet, but rather to an “Internet” state of mind—to think in the fashion of the network, according to Karen Archey and Robin Peckman, organizers of the exhibition. As such, most of the works presented here employ the visual rhetoric of advertising, graphic design, stock imagery, corporate branding, visual merchandising and commercial software tools. Arranged along several thematic threads, this exhibition considers issues related to Internet policy, mass clandestine surveillance and data mining, the physicality of the network, the post-human body, radicalized information dissemination and the open source movement by looking at the changes taking place in the age of the ubiquitous Internet.

Aids-3D, Outperformance Options ATM partitions, 2012, UV printed images from Contemporary Art Daily on perforated window film, Solyx Ice Galaxy window film, Solyx Cut Glass Drops window film, safety glass, stainless steel, 220*200*35 cm.

Perhaps because textual information often assumes a secondary role in the circulation of images today, including the digital milieu of the art world, many of the practices around the post-Internet haven’t yet been sufficiently or critically introduced or interpreted; this exhibition aims to redress this imbalance by allowing for substantive commentary and conversation. “By contextualizing post-Internet art within theory and art history, we hope to elude the inevitable relegation of these new positions to a fading trend,” said Karen Archey.

In the past 15 years, systems for the production, dissemination, circulation and reception of new art have experienced seismic shifts and radical reimaginings. The mainstreaming of art blogs, gallery websites, online image clearinghouses and other vehicles for digital imagery have made screens like computers and smart phones the primary mode by which contemporary art is seen by the vast majority of viewers, overwhelming the experiences of paging through a paper catalog or visiting an exhibition in person. Some experts say the most important art today is to investigate how these changes have affected the status of the work of art, particularly in the tension between object and documentation, the social realities of remote participation, and the possibility of artistic practice as a network.

Aleksandra Domanovic, Portrait, 2013, polyurethane, soft-touch, 44*22*38 cm.

The Internet has also transformed the way we speak and think, but it has to faithfully transmit our messages. As much as new social uses of technology have changed the distribution and authorship of art, so too have they disrupted the workings of publishing and the dissemination of texts in and about art—not to mention the ways in which we consider reception.

Some experts postulate our current historical moment as the dawn of the post-human era. Since the advent of the Internet, theorists of new media have described the emerging possibilities of a “next nature” that evolves alongside human society. What matters is the back-and-forth relationship between ecology and human beings. As our bodies are extended and perhaps supplanted by prosthetic devices that mediate our experiences of the world, new forms of being—once known as science fiction—come alive in real, often prosaic, ways.

Bunny Rogers, Self-Portrait (Cat Run), 2013, ceramic, cat ashes, 19.3*11.5*11.5 cm.

Early digital art and net art often relished the immateriality or virtuality of its platform, but with the focus on objectivity and physicality that accompanies the rise of the post-Internet, the tangible and institutional infrastructures of the Internet and its cultures have come back into play with a vengeance. From the ecological repercussions of massive server farms and fiber optic cables euphemistically known as residing “in the cloud” to the conditions of transparency and access to information, the issues that define this moment in art cannot be reduced to the purely aesthetic or theoretical; the space beyond digital dualism is inhabited by a holistic view of the networked world.


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