Post-Net Aesthetics, a panel organized by Karen Archey and Rhizome that took place at the ICA in London last week, picks up the discussion from Rhizome's Net Aesthetics panels of 2006 and 2008, both of which sought to examine the state of contemporary art engaged with the internet. This edition was organized as a discussion of the term "postinternet," and it reflected a shared sense that the term's usefulness has perhaps run its course. By way of putting it to bed, panel participant Josephine Berry Slater suggested that the "post" was problematic, in its suggestion of sequentiality. She referred to Peter Osborne's critique of Lyotard's Postmodern Condition, in which he suggested "transmodern" as an alternative term to the equally problematic "postmodern." Likewise, Slater suggested that "transinternet" might be a useful term for artists. Ben Vickers suggested that beyond postinternet, artists have a whole range of critical stances with regard to technology available to them. These include stacktivism and the new aesthetic, as well as the radical refusal to use technology or even to make art. (We'd suggest printing this out, before signing off for good.) The full video of the panel is well worth a watch.
For those reading in search of a definition, we offer this: the term "postinternet" has come to describe a wide range of artistic practices that engage with the internet as a ubiquitous presence in society and culture, rather than solely as an artistic medium. The panel's chair, Karen Archey, made reference to a definition offered by Frieze London's director Matthew Slotover as part of a discussion of current trends among the commercial art fair's galleries:
There are many works that relate to new forms of communication or have images appropriated from the Internet, for instance. It's not necessarily Internet art per se—it's more dimensional media, looking at using the tools of the Internet era to make sculptures and video, for instance. But generally speaking this is very much the current trend.
Postinternet stances assume that the creation, distribution, and reception of the work of art have all been reconfigured by network technologies. Perhaps unfortunately, postinternet art has come to be associated with certain techniques and styles more than any particular critical position. These include the blending of digital collage with digital painting in 2D prints, videos, or sculptural objects, and the appropriation or adoption of glossy commercial aesthetics, images, and products.