The Image Object Post-Internet
by Artie Vierkant
This PDF is to serve as an extended statement of artistic purpose and critique of our contemporary relation to objects and images in Post-Internet culture. More than anything, it poses a survey of contemplations and open questions on contemporary art and culture after the Internet.
“Post-Internet Art” is a term coined by artist Marisa Olson and developed further by writer Gene McHugh in the critical blog “Post Internet” during its activity between December 2009 and September 2010. Under McHugh's definition it concerns “art responding to [a condition] described as 'Post Internet'-when the Internet is less a novelty and more a banality. Perhaps ... closer to what Guthrie Lonergan described as 'Internet Aware'-or when the photo of the art object is more widely dispersed [&] viewed than the object itself.” There are also several references to the idea of “post-net culture” in the writings of Lev Manovich as early as 2001.
Specifically within the context of this PDF, Post-Internet is defined as a result of the contemporary moment: inherently informed by ubiquitous authorship, the development of attention as currency, the collapse of physical space in networked culture, and the infinite reproducibility and mutability of digital materials.
Post-Internet also serves as an important semantic distinction from the two historical artistic modes with which it is most often associated: New Media Art and Conceptualism.
New Media is here denounced as a mode too narrowly focused on the specific workings of novel technologies, rather than a sincere exploration of cultural shifts in which that technology plays only a small role. It can therefore be seen as relying too heavily on the specific materiality of its media. Conceptualism (in theory if not practice) presumes a lack of attention to the physical substrate in favor of the methods of disseminating the artwork as idea, image, context, or instruction.
Post-Internet art instead exists somewhere between these two poles. Post-Internet objects and images are developed with concern to their particular materiality as well as their vast variety of methods of presentation and dissemination.
It is important to also note that “being Post-Internet” is a distinction which carries ramifications beyond the art context as a societal condition at large, and that it would be antithetical to attempt to pinpoint any discrete moment at which the Post-Internet period begins. Any cultural production which has been influenced by a network ideology falls under the rubric of Post-Internet. The term is therefore not discretely tied to a certain event, though it could be argued that the bulk of the cultural shifts described herein come with the introduction of privately-run commercial Internet service providers and the availability of personal computers.