Hi everyone! Last month has been extremely busy: we’ve moved South of the River, and we’re working to make our This is Not Art magazine better and bigger (more news are coming ;-)!
So I just found the time to update you about the last amazing exhibition I’ve been: Electronic SuperHighway
At the Whitechapel Gallery, an amazing venue in East London just a few steps from Shoreditch, Electronic Superhighway is trying to give ideas about how the computers and technology have changed not only the society where we live, but the art world too. That’s why I couldn’t miss it. I really think they did a great job, highlighting 70 artists who’ve been experimenting with technology, from the ’60s.
I was impressed by the work by Olaf Breuning called Text Butt, giving the idea of how much information we’re exposed nowadays and how much your body has a relationship with technology. Does it mean that technology is empowering us but also isolating? You reply.
When I looked at Douglas Coupland‘s works, I have to be honest, I didn’t really understand them without reading the description properly. His large mixed media pieces, black and white photos with Piet Mondrian-like coloured cubes or black and white stripes stuck over them are to criticise Facebook’s facial recognition technology. I was also smiling looking at the representation of the Internet cache by Evan Roth and intrigued by Constant Dullaart, where in Jennifer in Paradise (2014) he’s giving ideas of how much Photoshop (basically used for any pics you’re seeing) is influencing your perception.
To be honest, until this moment banality seems to be the queen. I mean, yes, you’re going to realise the darkest side of tech, thanks to artists trying to criticise it. But how was perceived technology at the beginning, before our lives start depending on it?
The second floor is mirroring contemporary’s artists, giving ideas of how technology was perceived 40-50 years ago.
I was very impressed by the work of Jan Robert Leegte from the beginning of 21st century (just a nice way to say 2000 ;-)) using technology to make art or at least giving an artistic focus to a tech element.
The Internet Dream is a video sculpture by the Korean American Nam June Paik showing the same image across 52 different monitors with a different orientation. To be honest, it’s the kind of work I was also expecting on the ground floor, but Nam June Paik, is not “just a contemporary artist”, he’s credited as the father of video art. He used television as an artistic medium from the early 1960s and developed a unique style of video art based on technological innovation and creative experimentation. His work altered and transformed new technologies, when the tech era (the one we’re living now) was just at the beginning.
Allan Kaprow’s ‘Hello’ (1969), documents experiments with closed circuit video systems, in which participants would communicate via the artist’s instructions when they see each other on the screen, and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s ‘Surface Tension’ (1992), where a huge eye tracks your movement around the room, both anticipate communication through the screen and surveillance systems.
Have artists perhaps forgotten what experimenting does mean?
I hope the two floors were different on purpose.
One of the last exhibits is a poster from the Cybernetic Serendipity, an exhibition held at the ICA in 1968, the first exhibition looking to describe the relationship between art and technology. How much have we changed since then?
I think the exhibition was a good starting point to try to think more about our (and artists’) relationship with art. But, how can improve it and push it even further?
We’re using computers as people were using them in the 60s apart from the fact they’re faster. But what it’s true is that technology has changed us, not sure if we’re better now.