Before the dawn of the Internet, it was unlikely you’d ever find yourself confronted in one instant with an animated spinning ballerina, disturbing disaster photos, Goldie Hawn’s Botox-injected visage, and a video of a hedgehog taking a bath. But that total visual cacophony is normal now–and expected.
In video, painting, drawing, and performance, contemporary artists are commenting on the way the Internet has forever changed how we interact with visual content. We consume man-made images with more voracity than ever; and due to ubiquitous photo manipulation and virtual realities, our trust in the authenticity of images is shakier than ever. Raster Raster, a new exhibition at Aran Cravey Gallery in Los Angeles, features 11 artists whose work is heavily influenced by the strange visual landscape of the web. Curator Marisa Olson calls it “post-Internet art.”
Olson coined the term first to describe her own work in video, drawing, installation, and performance–she’s infamous for auditioning for American Idol and blogging about it afterward, calling the stunt art. “This is work that one might call ‘art after the Internet,’” Olson explained in a release. “That is, work that simultaneously enjoys and critiques the Internet, responding to and incorporating its tropes, memes, cultural politics, and visual language into forms that may or may not live online.”
The exhibition’s title, Raster Raster, plays on the graphic design term “rasterize”–scanning and converting an image into pixels for presentation. It also riffs on the sound of “faster faster,” a comment on the ever-speedier pace of technology and art-making.
None of the work shown is actually in online format, but the web’s influences are obvious. Many of the artists here started out in the net.art movement, and they’ve gone on to work in mediums from Second Life portraits to digital paintings on silk to 3-D-printed sculpture.
Artist Mehreen Mutraza’s Triptych looks like a massive collage made from Google image searches of “apocalypse,” “Internet,” and “medieval art.” He neti-ifies tropes of early religious iconography: instead of angels and trumpets flying around holy martyrs, it’s UFOs and techie devices floating around characters attached to wires who look like they’re about to be beamed up to the heavens by almighty waves of Wi-Fi.
Conor Backman’s Metasymbol, Metallica symbol, Cymbal Symbol, an oil painting of a drum head with a Metallica sticker, channels the pun-y visual punchlines and relentless irony of net.art. And Bunny Rogers, who calls one work Afterlife Are Belong To Me, puts creepily captivating stills of the online virtual world Second Life, usually a secret escape for the web-addicted, onto gallery walls.
“Raster Raster plays to the synesthesia of visual culture that the Internet makes use of; a modern pictorial language that interchanges words with ‘real’ and fictional imagery,” the curator writes in a release. “Filtering the traditions of painting and sculpture through this lens, Raster Raster is a show that examines the roles artists will and are having in the 21st century.”
Raster Raster is on view at the Aran Cravey Gallery in Los Angeles until April 12.