Much of my research is currently related to the relationship between the object, image and text, in particular the way the Internet has influenced and perpetuated translations between different media formats. Previously, I discussed how the ephemeral, narrative and networked nature of postcards can be likened to some extent to the blog post, which led me to consider how my work relates to the phenomenon known as Post-Internet art.
What is Post-Internet art?
There have been a number of different definitions used to describe post-internet art, including dimensional artwork that uses the aesthetics of the net eg. web browsers, glitches, programming language, through to the possibilities of image sharing afforded by sites such as tumblr and instagram. All of these definitions however, conform to an overall understanding of the term which is discussed in Artie Vierkant’s 2010 essay The Image Object Post-Internet, in which he details the history and development of the concept.
“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… 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 objects and images are developed with concern to their particular materiality as well as their vast variety of methods of presentation and dissemination.” (Vierkant, 2010)
Although people have expressed problems with the term as a sequential description, the ‘post’ in this sense refers to the idea of creating ‘after’ the internet, with the internet as a priori which contributes to the production of dimensional media. In this way, post-internet art uses technology as a tool, a network or a concept, rather than a medium – in the case of net art or new media. My interest in the term is not necessarily in defining my work, but in how it describes a particular trend in my practice between my use of the internet and the making of object-based art.
These reciprocal translations between online and offline also extend into the realisation of the object, with artists producing multiple versions of the same object in different forms and media. For example, “Oliver Laric’s ‘Versions’ exists as “a series of sculptures, airbrushed images of missiles, a talk, a PDF, a song, a novel, a recipe, a play, a dance routine, a feature film and merchandise,” [while Seth] Price’s ‘Dispersion’ [takes]“the form of a widely reproduced essay, an artists’ book, a freely available online PDF, as well as [a] sculpture.” (Vierkant, 2010)
Dissemination, translation, appropriation
Despite, the objecthood of Post-Internet art, it may still utilise the internet as a medium for dissemination, as with Dissociations, the web documentation of Berlin-based artist Harm van den Dorpel’s studio practice. Similarly, in the work of performance artist Paul Kindersley, the web as both form and concept are addressed through his series of videos mimicking YouTube makeup tutorials which are then uploaded to the video sharing site.
The web also allows for the possibility of participation, with some artists encouraging their audiences to appropriate an remix works through licences such as creative commons. As Vierkant writes: “Just as Barthes’ proclamation of the “death of the author” is in fact a celebration of the “birth of the reader” and the “overthrow[ing of] the myth”, culture Post-Internet is made up of reader-authors who by necessity must regard all cultural output as an idea or work in progress able to be taken up and continued by any of its viewers… Artists after the Internet thus take on a role more closely aligned to that of the interpreter, transcriber, narrator, curator, architect.” (Vierkant, 2010)
These propositions suggest various correlations with my work, through the use of social media in curatorial projects, research into online image archives as inspiration for my practice, and sharing my writing online. In considering the definition of Post-Internet art, I hoped to find a strategy to understand how the different aspects of my practice fits together, and how I can tackle some of the more problematic issues of appropriating cultural objects. However, despite the contentious term, I feel like I have found some affinity with the idea, which is expressed in the last section of Vierkant’s essay.
“The goal of organizing appropriated cultural objects after the Internet cannot be simply to act as a didactic ethnographer, but to present microcosms and create propositions for arrangements or representational strategies which have not yet been fully developed…. What matters is that in the presentation they have created a proposition towards an alternate conception of cultural objects… [Post-Internet art] marks a denigration of objects and our relationship to space: if an object before us in a gallery is only one of an infinite multitude of possible forms that object could take, its value to the viewer becomes little more than a curiosity… [Post-Internet art] is a constellation of formal-aesthetic quotations, self-aware of its art context and built to be shared and cited.” (Vierkant, 2010)