Prophet Seeking

The second exhibition of ambitious online gallery Club Internet, "Oracle" explores the spiritual qualities of cyberspace. Travess Smalley, tntet and Damon Zucconi are among the participating artists who tease otherworldly properties out of our disembodied relationship to the products of virtual navigation. Club Internet's unusual design bolsters the exhibition theme: its main page is stripped of all but a small toolbar and magic wand, and the artworks are presented, as much as possible, outside of their original contexts. Clicking the magic wand or refreshing the page will load another artwork, but because this process is random, each path through "Oracle" is different from the last. This navigational opacity and generative randomness imbues the online gallery with the qualities of an oracle, and gives the virtual realm, which we are accustomed to exploring voluntarily, a strange agency over us. The standout artworks from the exhibition follow suit, exposing users to images and processes either predetermined or outside of the scope of their control. Jeff Carey's block series 2, PERL (2008) finds the browser bar automatically descending, in the process panning over a crude mosaic of geometric triangles (the work concludes when the bar reaches the bottom). Another standout, Rafael Rozendaal's The Long Cigarette (2008) uses formal simplicity to great conceptual effect, presenting an animated cigarette, spread over three adjacent YouTube videos, which gradually burns across the length of the separate screens. As with Carey's work, The Long Cigarette transparently plays with the parameters of virtual display, yet somehow still enchants with its elementary magic. - Tyler Coburn

Image: Harm van den Dorpel, Dematerialized Candle, 2008