The Shadow of Right Now

On June 4th, the second iteration of the 01SJ Biennial will open in San Jose, CA. One of the most compelling components of this major international new media event directed by venerable curator Steve Dietz will be an exhibition at the San Jose Museum of Art, entitled "Superlight." The show opens May 10th and appears to offer a very powerful message. Taking on such "light" topics as global climate change, terrorism, the history of colonialism, global outsourcing, pervasive war, inescapable poverty, failing educational systems, and failed relationships, the show encourages viewers to get serious about considering our future. The lineup of artists in the exhibition (including Cory Arcangel, Jim Campbell, Paul DeMarinis, Kota Ezawa, Amy Franceschini, Graham Harwood, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Shih Chieh Huang, Jennifer and Kevin McCoy, Eddo Stern, Marina Zurkow, and others) could very easily be assembled with no greater purpose than surveying the most significant new media art of this moment. Instead, Dietz pushes viewers (and perhaps the artists themselves) to think further ahead. His curatorial statement fleshes out the fundamental "collision" encapsulated by the notion of "innovation": A face-off between the present and the future, in which one makes proactive decisions about the changes they want to see and the tomorrow they want to craft. Those working in new media are arguably extremely well-positioned to make such articulations, as they are at home on this temporal precipice. Recognizing this scenario charges both artists and audiences with a new sense of responsibility. As Dietz says, "In this contemporary context, 'what's next?' the age-old question at the intersection of art and technology takes on a new urgency." The works he's selected for their address of the aforementioned weighty topics often use light as a medium, if not the real or conceptual sheen of the popular vernacular to hold a mirror to our times. It is up to us to gaze at these reflections. - Marisa Olson

Bruce Charlesworth, Love Disorder, 2008

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