Part 2: Überization and Post internet

2.

 

Many artists of my generation define themselves as ‘post internet’ artists, whose work is inevitably informed by the digitization of our current existence. The Internet has changed (and is changing) the structure of our planet immensely. The scientific fantasy that someday our human minds will be uploaded to a computer network is perhaps not so far off. But here’s a thought: The Internet Revolution is perhaps only a transitory state, preparing us for the real revolution to come. I will not attempt to prophesize what said revolution will be (Others claim the Singularity, when artificial intelligence will surpass us), I’ll leave this up to your (completely human) imagination.

 

In any case, there is no doubt that we are in a period of extreme change. For the visual arts, I see the impact of digitization as threefold:

 

1. The way we see is changing…

Visual information is essential to an artwork. How we process visual information is changing because of the rapidity and instant gratification of the net. Image, click, image, click, video, click. We are spending less and less time on single images and experiences, disallowing contemplation and appreciation of detail. It’s a kind of ADD of art consumption. When we view an image on a screen, we are also flattening its visual information, effectively diminishing characteristics such as scale, dimensionality, and materiality to pixels.

 

2. The way we experience space is changing…

We spend more time viewing art from our laptop screens than being bothered to walk to the gallery and experience it in person. We may, in fact, be becoming lazier because of the Internet. The space of the gallery has now moved online, with sites like Saatchi grabbing hold of a larger portion of the art market each year. Virtual space is becoming increasingly embedded into real space. Museums now feature works displayed as digital projections, on screens, or as virtual reality. (A recent example is John Rafman whose work I recently saw at the MAC)

 

3. The way we create art is changing…

This one is obvious. Software programs like Photoshop, Blender, ArtRage, etc. allow for endless new tools in image production. Artists are even developing and creating their own software programs to integrate into their works. Artistic endeavors are no longer limited to the physical plane. Art can be created to live its life in the virtual world, and never touch a gallery wall.

 

 

So where does all this change lead us? What will become of visual art in the digital age? I simply don’t know. But I do know that innovation opens the door to creativity, and change is essential for moving the platform of art forward. There’s a new term being thrown around online, thanks to the emergence of Über, the ultra successful car-sharing company…

 

überization – when a new technology completely turns an industry on its head and forces us to rethink the way things have always been done. 

 

And on that note, I will press pause and continue with this discussion in the next post.