Norah Stone, Artificial Utopias No. 1
This weekend, curator Nathaniel Smith sets up shop at SOOlocal Gallery for his take on what it means to make art in the post-internet age. The art includes pieces that respond to, push back against, and embrace to a level of absurdity the internet's stronghold on every aspect of our lives. It's a show that offers reflection on our 21st-century online-obsessed culture.
Now you may be thinking, "What? We're already in the post-internet age? But I'm reading this online right now!" Well, let's back up for a second. The show locates itself amidst a dialogue surrounding the term "post-internet art," which was coined by artist and critic Marisa Olson
in the mid-aughts. An example of Olson's work in this vein includes "Monitor Tracings
," where she traced images of headphones, telephones, radios, and so forth from a computer monitor where she made Google image searches.
Because only one of the artists chosen for this show refers to themselves as a post-internet artist, Smith has opened up the term a bit to include creatives responding visually to the "post-internet age."
For Smith, the post-internet age is more of a designation than a time period. We live in a world "where you can't escape from the internet," he says. If you do manage to take a break from it -- say if you go camping -- it's kind of a big deal. People express relief to "get away from emails," Smith says. "No one used to say that. That wasn't a thing."
Artists in the show are either actively pushing against internet culture, or are somehow responding to it. For example, Cat Bluemke's Moma Sculpture Garden
consists of a 2-D cut out of a Greek bust on a pedestal leaning against the wall. (See here
for a video of the sculpture traveling to various scenic locales.) The piece looks like something taken from clip art, so in a way you are seeing the images transformation from ancient sculpture to something found on a computer screen to a large piece of paper that re-achieves three dimensions through its placement.
There are actually a number of works in this show that similarly break down the processes of how content is repackaged in today's world. Kat Fisher has taken James Joyce's Ulysses and run it through 12 different forms. For example, an audio recording of the text has been made and re-recorded, and sent through Siri and transcription programs. It ends up being like a game of telephone, where not all of the words are correctly transcribed. Plus, all intonation and the music of Joyce's language have been lost completely.
Similarly, Justin Sehorn depicts several stages in a process that goes from drawing to 3D sculptures. The work offers a glimpse into the process of creating a work of art, and also comments on the changing tools and systems that artists can employ.
Caitlin Warner has some of the strongest pieces in the show, including a book of shiny metallic pages that just beg you to touch them. In a sort of antithesis to the internet, which begs for tactile interaction, Warner entices you into the "real" world by her sparkly book.
Another of Warner's books contains a three-ringed binder with the title "Post Internet" printed in large letters. Here Warner poses a quiet demonstration against current technologies by making a hilarious presumption that we would actually be so through with the internet as to go back to actually reading things on paper (do people still do that?).
While the idea of the show can be challenging -- when you're in the midst of something so consuming as internet culture, it's hard to imagine what it means to not be in it -- it's a show that definitely will get you thinking.