Exhibition as Interface: An interview with V4ULT


Anni Puolakka and Laura Jantunen, performance/reading/book launch of V4ULT publication A gesture waves us on, answering our own wave (2014), SIC, Helsinki.

V4ULT is a curatorial platform initiated by Anna Mikkola and Hanna Nilsson in 2013. Taking place in various built environments, in book form, and online, the project has been described as an "interface" through which people, ideas and artworks move. The project's website has been archived by Rhizome using the dynamic web archiving tool Webrecorder (developed by Ilya Kreymer), and Mikkola will take part in a forum organized by Rhizome at the New Museum on the topic of the Born-Digital Art Institution.

The first iteration of the project took place in a walk-in closet in their former studio in Berlin. One exhibition in that space, "Breathing Kevlar, Perforated Skin," presented works that could be held in your hand. The accompanying website for episode 1 included documentation video for each exhibition, accessed by clicking on a black rectangle at the top right of thepage, with each video displayed against a custom background with stills of the online work that was part of each show. Each video documented the exhibition from the point of view of an investigating visitor–zooming into details of the work, swooping around the room or slowly scanning across it with the subtle shakes of a handheld camera. By moving away from a sterile exhibition documentation format, the exhibition in the space and its online experience became less disparate and felt more intimate.

Screenshot of documentation of "Breathing Kevlar, Perforated Skin" on V4ULT.CC


Art After Social Media in Cambodia


Image posted to Facebook by Pen Robit.

An artist finishes a piece, snaps a selfie in front of the work, and uploads the picture to Facebook. Although there is no curator or gallery mediating the art, many of the artist's friends are quickly liking and commenting on the work. It's a typical postinternet art practice that I've seen countless times, only now I'm in Cambodia, a country where a mere 26.7% of the population claims they've used the internet. The work is a self-portrait oil painting, and the artist borrowed his friend's smartphone for the picture.

Postinternet art is an umbrella term for a range of artistic responses to the widespread adoption of the web—specifically social media and networked smartphones—in and around the contemporary art world. It explores and exploits how these technologies have affected the ways art and culture is shared and made. Online conversations and web surfing become the raw materials, Photoshop and screen grabs the tools, and YouTube and Instagram the platforms.

In his seminal blog "Post Internet," Gene McHugh described the condition of postinternet as "when the Internet is less a novelty and more a banality." The lack of any sense of banality around internet access here in Cambodia, where I've spent the past several weeks researching and interviewing contemporary artists, has forced me to question two major underlying assumptions about postinternet art: A. Everyone is online, all the time. and B. Everyone has access to the computational power of something like a MacBook Pro, which are both statistically egregious assumptions. Roughly 58% of the world is offline, and many of those online are only accessing the web through basic feature phones. 


After VVORK: How (and why) we archived a contemporary art blog


Screenshot of VVork post from April 2006, as archived by Rhizome.

Today, Rhizome unveils a new archive of the contemporary art blog VVork (2006-2012), in which we demonstrate a novel solution to the problem of conserving websites with embedded videos.

VVork makes a useful test case for our digital conservation efforts because it presents one relatively narrow but difficult set of problems to solve. That is, when videos are embedded in a website, they are generally hosted on a third-party platform (on YouTube, for example); this means they may be deleted or taken down, sometimes for "inappropriate" content. But saving these videos into an archive creates problems for most scraping tools, especially when a video is used in many different contexts, as when the same video appears on multiple tag pages. The way these platforms select and serve the video files makes it difficult to have all embeds of the same video point to a single archival copy.

To address these issues, Rhizome's Digital Conservator Dragan Espenschied used Colloq, a tool for creating contextual archives that was developed by Rhizome in partnership with Ilya Kreymer in 2014. (The service builds on Kremer's pywb tools; you can read up on the technical details of of capturing the web video here.) Colloq offers a robust solution for this long-standing issue; with VVork as a test case, we have created a stable archive of the site including nearly all embedded video.


Post Whatever: on Ethics, Historicity, & the #usermilitia


Originally published in a different form in You Are Here: Art After the Internet (Cornerhouse Books, £15.95. Edited by Omar Kholeif). 



I'll start by making two claims, which I won't return to since they speak for themselves, and because they are—as far as I'm concerned—incontrovertible. With the first, I'm paraphrasing Nicholas Mirzoeff in saying that post- should not be understood as "the successor to," but as "the crisis of." Having established this, the second claim aims to get one thing straight: every artist working today is a postinternet artist. Let's move on.

The modern-millennial hubris around newness (and, by extension, youth; and, by extension, technological progress, accelerationism, and neoliberal futurity) is epitomized by breathless discourses around the seismic, revolutionary, never-before-seen newness of the internet and surrounding technologies—and echoed in initiatives like 89plus. This feels especially damaging when many of us have been living in an essentially striated (e.g. sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic) world for as long as anyone can remember. One of the few strategies for imagining a better, fairer world is the idea that things have not always been this way. Another strategy is the practice of intergenerational discourse, or learning from—and railing against—one's elders and forebears. Until recently, this was a required part of any art education—or indeed, any coming of age rite, even if the balance between "learning from" and "railing against" might vary across cultures.

Now, however, the notion of the "digital native" seems to draw a division—and implicit hierarchy—between those who have enjoyed access to networked technology since childhood and those who have not. This division may or may not be correlated with age, race, class, gender, and geographical location.

Another school of thought holds that the novel psychosocial situation in which we find ourselves postinternet has given rise to unprecedented fragmentation, narcissism and alienation in the social status quo, although it seems unlikely that the contemporary condition should be qualitatively different from any other technological or teleological shift in human history. Current anxieties that the internet may be making us stupid (or lonely, or sexually aberrant, or socially dysfunctional) echo Plato's worry that the widespread practice of writing would destroy oral literacy and the ability to create new memories. 


Do You Follow? Art in Circulation 3 (transcript)



Do you follow? Art in Circulation 3
London, October 17 2014
Featuring Hannah Black, Derica Shields, Amalia Ulman

This is the third and final panel discussion in "Do You Follow? Art in Circulation," a talks series organized by Rhizome and the ICA, hosted by Rosalie Doubal and moderated by Michael Connor. This talk began with the polemic prompt that "Internet circulation changes bodies into image-bodies."  A transcript of the first panel is available already; the second panel's transcript is delayed because of technical difficulties.

Rush transcript compiled by Loney Abrams and Anton Haugen. Discrepancies may exist due to transcription errors or unclear audio. Original video footage can be found here.


Michael Connor: Today's panel deals with the theme of bodies as— bodies and images in circulation. We are going to have a video by Hannah Black. The other panelists Amalia Ullman and Derica Shields will then join me on stage. Amalia will present her Excellences & Perfections performance, kind of the first real public-outing for that particular body of work. Derica will give us a visual sampler of the "Black Woman Cyborg," and then, we will have a general discussion.

This has been a really eventful week. This has been the most immersive, best research experience for me, personally, and I hope for some of the people who have joined in as well. The first panel began with questions of aesthetics and artistic practice, and how we think about aesthetic judgment when the work as a stand-alone entity is dissolving into this idea of the work as a circulating object. In the first talk, there was quite a lot of emphasis on opinions being statements of a subject-position rather than any sort of assessment of a work. There was also a lot of emphasis on the idea of disavowing, on resisting internet circulation, resisting being a part of media cultures, and developing alternative infrastructures. 


What's Postinternet Got to do with Net Art?


Courtesy grouphab.it and Harm van den Dorpel.

An extended and altered version of this text will be published in... You Are Here: Looking at After the Internet (Cornerhouse Books 2014), edited by Omar Kholeif.

Earlier this month, Rhizome presented a panel discussion at the ICA in London titled "Post-Net Aesthetics." Following in the wake of prior panels (titled "Net Aesthetics 2.0") which were organized by Rhizome in 2006 and 2008, this edition was precipitated by the recent discussion of postinternet practices by a number of art institutions and magazines, including Frieze. We invited a longtime Rhizome collaborator, critic and curator Karen Archey, to chair and organize the panel, and what emerged was a wide-ranging and extremely generative conversation in which participants began to articulate some of the shifts they'd seen in artistic practice in recent years, while critiquing those shifts and their framing as "postinternet."