Technological devices have revolutionized the way we communicate today from face to face to virtual interactions. With social media, we can create new narratives and identities with our online personas allowing us to transform and act in ways we may not be confident enough to express. Communicating through technology creates boundaries and develops laziness in social environments. For example, the omnipresence of the internet has disconnected the way we interact in the present.
IRL looks at who we are and how it relates to our online selves. The exhibition includes artists that I personally haven't met: Anil Rinat, Eden Mitsenmacher, Ilya Fox, and Itamar Toren.
The limited perspective of an artificial mind.
A series of live recordings of exhibitions made via periscope prior and during the week of the show. Through the limited perspective of AI or OS, people can visit exhibitions that they may have previously been unable to attend. With AI or OS being thought of as all knowing the show looks at their humanness and inability to be physically present. The show will involve a link to the periscope that you can watch live recordings of shows through, there will also be a schedule of what shows I will be visiting and at what times.
look to the future-past is an online exhibition bringing together contemporary videos that make reference back to video art and experimental film of the past. Over the course of the week, these videos will be revealed to you in ones and twos, culminating in an hour-long compilation of the whole. Structural film, video feedback, collage...Brakhage, Jarman, Rosler, Paik, the Vasulkas...Styles, techniques, and hallowed names to deconstruct, update, and upend. Abstraction and ambience reign supreme in this collection of works, though the drama of the everyday too shines through.
Marilyn Roxie, notes for look to the future-past featuring artwork from Carl Abrahamsson, Ben Redmond, Matthew Duhamel, Bug Davidson, Shannon Cochrane, Irina Contreras, Elia Vargas, Karl Erickson, Dean Winkler, Maureen Nappi, Donald S Butler, Joseph Bernard, Alan Goodrich, Theadora Walsh, Polina Khatsenka, Jan Krombholz, Kit Young and Perry Bard
Welcome to our online bby shower, celebrating the rebirth of mother Digital.
Okay let me show u around. Here is the internet vagina. A space that actually existed in a parallel dimension from the real world.
This gave birth to a new technological apparatus, expanding the interuterus on the elite, minimum wage coders and millennial interns. Who can save us from the rock hard, small, white penises of the silicone capitalist? The techno yogis? How can we begin to cybersoul, with empathy and altruism? Hopefully with equality and a queer cyborg mother caring, not for the few but for the many.
P.s If u haven’t got me a gift I accept bitcoins.
Bby Shower is created by Tanny Cruz, Nyne Derricot, Haruka Fukao, Hana Omori, Isabel Ramos, Alberta Shearing and George Stone. Sound by Nati Cerutti, 001okk, Oh Mr James and The Floating Cellist.
Carbon Data is the endless repetition of two video works by artist Jade Annaw. The two videos take the idea of the endless loop and connectivity as their starting point, using video collage to explore our need to monitor and maintain our relationships with technology and the online realm. Freedom comes through our world wide exploration through our flat screen, yet what happens to our unintentional archive of digital material which could be gathered, harvested, stored forever. Are we stored forever through Facebook as our ashes can be stored forever in a man made diamond, or should we let ourselves digitally degrade. Thanks to Jade for letting us continue on our journey through digital purgatory.
Imagine, for a moment, you’re a young adult with a smart phone, feeling alone in the world, you might be going through a particularly negative part of your life, or you’re simply feeling disconnected, that nobody understands you. Why would they, when you are unique and everyone else is the same? You use social media applications like Facebook and Instagram regularly, seeking likes and attention, when in reality all you receive is hollow hearts and shallow comments. The daily barrage of neutral abuse is inescapable, both on and offline. One day you’re skimming through your feed, refreshing your phone, waiting for the next ‘like’ to appear on your latest profile picture, when you see an advert, algorithmically selected just for you. It’s for Shouldr, the focus of this weeks online exhibition, an application that facilitates your wants and needs. Functioning like Facebook Messenger, you log on, type in your wants, your needs, your desires, and you’re paired with a real life ‘caregiver’ who will respond to those yearnings. In a world where AI’s are slowly becoming indiscernible from human beings, peer to peer contact has never been more important. Or is this app simply filling a void, taking a bite out of the booming mobile application marketplace before the AI’s of the future are able to serve those wants through machine learning, akin to Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of an artificial intelligence in Her or Alicia Vikander’s robotically human performance in Ex Machina.
Stepping out of the fabricated world where this revolutionary new app actually exists, the idea of an application that actually values human interaction is quite unique. When we as a race are continually pushing forwards, always wanting another technological innovation, striving for tomorrows smartphone today, at what point do we choose to stop being revolutionary and be content with what we have? To quote Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
Menswear is a compilation of images from various series and projects from Ayesha Malik's portfolio. When discussing this exhibition and how to approach it Malik suggested this subject as a kind of subliminal interest that ran through many of her projects. By moving these images into a new context it brings attention to this originally secondary subject and allows for a re-examination of the works. This reframing and recontextualization is further accelerated by shaping the space in which the images newly exist through methods of montage and collage.
The subject of this exhibition being identity in relation to men in Saudi Arabia comes at a very relevant and fitting time; as Saudi Arabia and the Middle East are knotted in political and civil unrest and as stereotypes, mythologies and fears permeate through western media, this project shines a light on the everyday and the relevance and importance of identity and expression in these regions. Conversations concerning the dress of women in the region have long dominated and the correlation between freedoms, identity and expression have long been documented. However little is done in this conversation related to men. Albeit a different set of questions arise, these questions are as important and relevant to notions of identity and understanding of the region.
Although this project is more traditional in its approach, it provides an insight into contemporary culture. By situating this exhibition on isthisit? it presents Malik's work to a new audience whilst also providing a new frame for which to view her practice.
This is a live-streamed video of a Raspberry Pi running a script that finds, downloads and plays YouTube videos with ‘slime’ in the title, never the same one twice. The screen and Pi too are being covered in slime. The work within the exhibition uses the phenomenon of the on/offline slime craze to explore what it means to have a mediated tactile experience. The creation and spread of slime online, uploaded, downloaded, shared, reformatted, reformed, re-edited and recipes changed. Is our obsession with slime connected with the universality of tangible tactile experiences? Therapeutic pleasure that makes you ask ‘why is this so satisfying’? Within the online exhibition space of isithisit? can cult value transform into exhibition value and bring distraction into contemplation?
“These selfies weren't originally meant to represent anything. They are the outcome of hours of boredom and online conversations with friends. As such, they may be more "authentic" then selfies that are born for clearly representational purposes. They are the result of intimate communication processes: they are creepy, cute or weird because that's the part of my character I like to share with my friends. As a kid I always fantasized about swapping bodies; now I can do it, at least in the digital world.” Franziska Von Guten
From Durer to Cornelius self-portraiture has always been a prominent element of the visual arts. The nature of modern photography, the indispensability of it and the ability to instantaneously capture without having to think about running out of film, has led to widespread experimentation on this front. Artists, as a result, are able to be less inhibited with their self-portraiture; taking on the practice of ‘selfies’ and making art, a lot of which the world will never see. The readiness of materials coupled with the growth of the 'individual' has created artists whose work is reflected in their selfies in intimate, sometimes demented, ways. Francis Bacon and Egon Schiele would be thrilled, artists are now able to create in snapchat the vibe which they had to create using oil paint.
Jum Fernandez, notes for Vicarious featuring artwork from Franziska Von Guten, Tom Stockley, Carl Caruana, Zandi Dandizette, Bia Rodrigues, Enad Yenrac, Bobby Spangler, Fabiola Larios and Camilla Roriz
The body is central to feminist critiques of sex and gender as the body is the site of visual difference and it is through the body that difference is experienced and lived. The development of technology and the inception of the Internet have opened up endless possibilities for alternate online spaces and virtual worlds and the body has now moved online into digital spaces. New online realms exist where digital selves can be, individually and collectively, unbound by real life gender binaries and fleshy form. However, as developments in technology create new emancipatory spaces for gender and identity, they also produce a proliferation of online discrimination, the objectification and abuse of digital bodies and an influx of manipulated images that stereotype. With the move from analogue to digital and more recently, to virtual systems of representation, the body is being experienced and represented in new ways, digitally and virtually.
out_of_body asks what are the limits and freedoms of gender and representation in relation to the digital body? And are new technologies and online spaces helpful for our understanding of gender, or do they just mirror more traditional concepts of masculinity and femininity, subject and object and the representational and real? out_of_body includes work by Daniela Azahlner, Larry B & Suzannah Pettigrew, Kara Gut, Abi Laurel, Martina Menegon and Georgie Roxby Smith. Presented on a loop, in no particular order and with no structural or representational hierarchy, each work is treated equally and given the full screen to perform.
‘You can touch this’ explores the tactility of art in an online setting, featuring artists Gweni Llwyd and Ben Urban. Online platforms such as Is this it? are becoming an increasingly popular way to view art, we only have to follow a link or log onto one of the numerous social media sites to see images and videos of art from around the world. It could be argued our relationship with physical objects become a step further away however, we have all walked into a gallery or museum, with an overcoming urge to touch the artwork only to take a step back knowing a voice would quickly fill the room telling us not to touch.The online element can offer us a more private, personal and intimate relationship with a piece of work, even something we can interact with but the question remains, can you touch this?
Jade Annaw and Emily Simpson
Within (semi)borderless online platforms we relentlessly search for an agency which is fragile and mostly constructed, and we stretch the ideas of relationships in order to reconstruct ourselves virtually - we are at once both public and private. The work allows the ordinary to assert time, and demand space, in this constantly fast-paced arena we call online. Leading up to her exhibition, Eden Mitsenmacher has been contacting Rebecca Edwards through the forgotten medium of letter-writing. Waiting weeks for a message to arrive, allows the conversation to breathe; the words are sent with hope of being discovered and it is within this periphery that the act of sending information becomes futile, and where questions of being seen or never seen at all lie in a state of limbo. This idea of an estranged pen-pal continued over a week long period on isthisit? in the lead up to Eden's solo show at ArebyteLaser in London, where both artist and curator will expose conversations, thoughts and feelings.
'ancient-chamber-58466' is a tale as old as time. A tale of identity and misunderstandings modernised by the nuances of contemporary public diplomacy. Set in a dark cave dimly lit by the blue light of a monitor you are asked to assume the role of an analysis presented by data in non-aggregate form. Data that could be used to predict sentiment surrounding products, government policy and much more. If you stare at the screen long enough you can start to see patterns emerge; Who’s criticized by who and what does it mean or take to be labelled an idiot.
‘Adverts in My Dreams’ is a solo show of the work of Karl Russell Vickers, an artist who works primarily creating paper collages. The exhibition includes 12 works from his ongoing Limited Time/ Travel series, produced from 2013- 2016. The works are presented as a single image spread across 12 pages. Although produced across a 3 year time period, the works show the bases of a number of themes that extend throughout Vickers practice. A variety of rock textures, detailed scientific drawings and fragments of advertising imagery combine throughout the exhibition to create a cohesion of an antiquated past and possible alternative futures. The exhibition exists as a journey, a guide, and a sales pitch for a way of life that is yet to come.
What does a blank web page mean to you? I rarely see such a thing when trawling the internet, only seeing a white screen when waiting for a new hyperlink to load, and even then, it’s only there for a brief moment, eager to be left to its own devices, once again living amongst the in between spaces of the internet, sandwiched between a custom ‘error’ screen and your desired destination. Taking inspiration from the unwarranted and unwanted micro-breaks that are enforced upon users, this weeks show on isthisit? was a simple white page with no artworks or artists featured. Why is this? In the same way that your computer needs an occasional break between browsing to connect to a stronger satellite signal or slip an extra node into the network, I too sometimes need a break. However, this, like most things, was un-planned. In the art world curators need artists to function and vice versa. Akin to this, an online gallery like isthisit? needs curators, to expand its reach and share the workload; a lot has changed in the last year and I no longer curate every weeks show due to other commitments and desires. This obviously creates more work within itself, emails to send, exhibitions to plan and social media to manage, probably adding up to about the same amount of work anyway, but that’s ultimately irrelevant. Last week a guest curator was set to take over the site, bringing in their own artists and concept to be showcased on isthisit?, unfortunately emailing last minute on Thursday morning to let me know that it wasn’t possible and it would have to be postponed. I had relied on someone and made a mistake. Organisers have to be able to rely on curators, curators on artists and artists on themselves; it’s the ecosystem that people working in the arts submit to and attempt to conform to on a regular basis. However, in reality, emails aren’t replied to, you’re blanked at a private view and multiple final deadlines are missed, with no realistic solution in sight. I guess it’s time to jump back in, answer some emails and plan what’s next on the agenda, slowly becoming increasingly sceptical as time continues forward.
So, we all know what a picture is, right? Or at least we think we know; one of the best definitions comes from Sherrie Levine who describes it as ‘a space in which a variety of images, none of them original, blend and clash.’ Here, a picture is seen as a combination of quotations drawn from the innumerable centres of culture. This show is intended to encompass Levine’s definition and highlight artists re-examining, responding to or in some way encompassing ideas about the art world in their work. They are tracing narratives of transformation, and underscoring the myriad of ways in which artworks are evaluated and how objects are embedded in our cultural history. The whirring and beeping of Nathaniel Faulkner’s sound work is mimicking that of an IBM server, an object that probably exists in every company building in the world, from art galleries to offices, Tate to BP. It greets you into the slightly sparse environment where four light switches are displayed. Flicking a switch turns on, and then off again, each work in the show.
Eva and Franco Mattes have restaged Vito Acconci’s ‘Seedbed’, and other historical performances, inside videogames as an attempt to reinvigorated these significant pieces, freeing them from dependency on the art institution. This leads them to present this work in a context where these issues of the body, sexuality, identity, and the environment and public space, acquire a completely different meaning. As a consequence the original energy of the performance, and its power to provoke, dissipates, or turns into something completely different. This draws a parallel with Lawrence Lek’s ‘Unreal Estate (The Royal Academy Is Yours)’ which takes you round a 3D animated virtual environment in which London’s Royal Academy of Arts has been sold off as a luxury playboy mansion to an anonymous Chinese billionaire. This virtual Royal Academy, as metaphor for the art world, makes you acutely aware of how successive historical articulations of power and desire can converge in one space. The building, in this context, makes the fantasy of total ownership and real prestige both accessible and understandable. A particular building is also the subject of John Kannenberg’s ‘A Sound Map of Tate Modern: Montage (for wobbly ventilators)’. As the title suggests Kannenberg has created a sound map of Tate Modern through walking over the vents in the establishment. The loose pieces of metal expose some of the cracks in the paint of the once perfect white cube, but ones nobody really notices or minds because they've been there forever or are essential components of the space. This activity, walking on the vents, also allows the viewer a little insight into his personality; he is an audible presence or character within the maps, performing his own auditory relationship with each space as opposed to detaching himself from the recording. When it comes to creating a character Max Hollands has used himself to created a comedic persona of what appears to be a less than happy art student, until he exchanges his art theory books for everyone’s favourite cartoon beagle, Snoopy. Hollands can be seen to be rather confused by John Berger’s ‘Ways of Seeing’ and Marcel Duchamp’s ‘The Afternoon Interviews’, perhaps attempting to debunk the notion that all art students have a battered copy of Ulysses on their shelf and try to quote Nietzsche at least twice a day. In addition, the Snoopy reference is definitely no coincidence; Snoopy's whole personality is a little bittersweet. But he's a very strong character. Similar to an art student attempting to cram their head full of academic literature, he can win or lose, be a disaster, a hero, or anything, and yet it all works out.
Sid and Jim
The sun flickers on the horizon, just visible over a mass of artificial light emanating from a perfectly sculpted cityscape. As you shift your focus, narrowing your eyes and squinting into the distance, you manage to identify a police helicopter hovering above one of the skyscrapers, the pilot preparing to land after another successful assignment. You’ve been watching this hyper-real, seemingly autonomous scene play out for the past few minutes, only now realising that you have a life to get back to, regretfully tearing your eyes away from the beautifully rendered copy of Los Angeles being displayed on your television screen, back to the reality of the situation. This weeks exhibition on isthisit? was named ‘an artificial edifice’ and features three works, each dealing with artificial space and the overwhelming nature of the network, reflecting on the present in relation to our past and future selves. Larry Achiampong and David Blandy’s collaborative film ‘Finding Fanon 2’ utilises the Grand Theft Auto V in-game video editor, appropriating and building on the lost plays of Frantz Fanon. As the piece unfolds we’re introduced to the two artists as avatars within the video game space, exploring the seemingly deserted environment, patrolling dockyards and climbing mountains whilst a woman’s voice is heard over a subtle soundtrack. As the post-colonial condition is being considered and discussed by the unseen voice, you begin to understand that, for all its beauty, the seemingly perfect virtual world that’s being presented is as imperfect as the physical realm, due to the creators of the video game residing in the real, steeped with bias and hidden vitriol. Towards the end of the video the voice states ‘if I am guilty, it would be that I am guilty of dreaming of emancipation’, summing up the escapism that players wish for when powering up their console or donning their virtual reality headset, only to find that these worlds are becoming more real than the reality you’re attempting to escape. This leads to my own piece in the show, ‘Zo’, a film that continues to interrogate the escapism that one seeks from their apparent real life. Various moments of down time from the science fiction video game franchise Mass Effect are observed in the background whilst in the foreground a text based conversation occurs between myself and an internet bot, first chatting about inconsequential moments, eventually leading to a discussion on what it means to be human and what ‘real’ intelligence reflects. The final work in the show is from Aylwin Greenwood-Lambert titled ‘Glyphs IV’. Serving as a background for the other works, the digital print depicts an array of images that are garnered from Google’s vast database, arranged to phonetically spell out the lengthier version of the artworks title ‘RheaDinS can nerFur BeakOm DiscOnNeckTed FrOM anY inDIvyDUelS nowLedJ aw EggsPearEyeAnts’. As the internet and various virtual realms continue to affect and distort the language we speak and the actions we take, where and what is the end game?
When I have endless scrolls, sometimes I need a park bench to sit on. I’ve been fascinated with benches for quite a few years now, for some reason it makes the art more important, it's the space being like you need to enjoy this art for long enough that you might want to sit down, and you need enough space watching this thing that you don’t feel like you need to move on, not some two seater video installation but seating that matches the size of the room, the importance of the art. Sometimes I need more time, time to watch and listen and to spend more time with the artists I’m working with, I’ve always come up with my best things while drunk and with artists. I first saw Maudie Gibbons work 'Crème Caramel' around two/three years ago and I don't think I’ve ever skipped it or paused it or changed the screen, it's something that I’ve felt like I’ve always needed to watch through. It has this enticing calmness that lets you pause for a little while, it doesn’t need anything else by it, anything next to it will just turn into padding: 100%; you can escape from the endless scroll, you don’t need to see anything else for a little while. Give yourself a mini-break, give yourself the excuse to wait a moment. You have already walked around the rest of the internet, frantically attempting to see everything before it shuts down, and found yourself in the first room with a bench and some art that you probably like. So let's hope that you are sitting down, and enjoy.
Things change, people change, time moves on, we grow older, but a web page left to its own devices will stay the same, eventually being lost to the ether of the internet once the domain name expires. After being abandoned by the owner, the page can’t change, can’t grow, it can only wait, waiting to be re-configured whilst simultaneously counting down the days until its URL becomes obsolete. I’ve been thinking a lot about time recently, especially in relation to isthisit? turning a year old and my own insignificant milestone of a birthday approaching. How have I changed in the past year, what’s happened in the world, what have we gained, what have we lost? The name of the exhibition ‘you did make her happy, but then she changed into someone you couldn't make happy’ is taken from a TV show I recently finished. The line, although clichéd, felt genuine when Tom gave Josh the heartfelt advice, and can obviously be attributed to many in the same position, including myself. The exhibition features several artworks interspersed between a murky background of continually moving particles, simulating the effect that occurs when dust is disturbed in darkened cinemas by animated projectors. There are 14 sound works in total, allowing the user to pick and choose a soundtrack to watch the dust or alternatively indulge in the silent film by Will Kendrick, composed of various appropriated consumerist imagery, from GTA5 to the dancing humanoid persona of Hatsune Miku; A virtual performer who functions as both an online and offline entity, traversing the IRL and URL spheres, sometimes simultaneously. The 14 audio pieces make up the entire collection of sound works submitted to isthisit?, archiving these individuals and their works before a new year begins. What happens now?
Have you ever looked in the mirror and felt the need to escape from the western world’s hyper connected virtual sphere, dreaming of leaving your technological devices behind as your physical body goes for a mindless walk into the unknown? When did this idea leave your consciousness, being brushed away by the ping of your iPhone, disrupting your brief encounter with the pre-internet manifestation of yourself and pulling you back into the reality of the now; you’re unable to function without your micro-computer in your pocket. For this weeks exhibition on isthisit?, marking one year of shows on the platform, ‘future.esc’ engages with artworks that embrace the internet of things, accepting the future whilst knowingly indulging in the analogue essence of the past. Gaia Fugazza’s painting ‘Birth in the river’ depicts a woman giving birth in the middle of a forest, assumedly at one with nature, whilst a man films the delivery on an iPad. This ongoing, increasingly subservient, relationship with machines is explored in Karl Sims web based artwork ‘Hyper World Tour’, where an ever-growing number of figures (which you can contribute to) are randomly placed in front of various locations taken from Google Maps, from a mountain road in upstate New York to a flowing downstream river in France. Explore the world through your screen, with locations chosen for you by the websites algorithm, not dissimilar to eBay tracking your viewing habits or Facebook keeping your private messages in a server farm. The final piece, a video by Kristina Pulejkova titled ‘Atom C’, compliments the other works by contributing a repetitive and melodic soundtrack whilst visualising the journey of a carbon atom, from its birth to becoming a part of the human consciousness. Carbon is an essential part of the Earth, from being in our food to partly powering our cars. It’s hard to imagine a life without carbon, and (for a millennial living in the western world) even harder to imagine a life without the internet…
This show, 'school is now in session', was very easy to curate, we have some fucking amazing artists on this years School of the Damned (Class of 2018, Year of the Rooster). The only thing I said to my fellow roosters was that for this show I didn’t want any other theme than the fact that the exhibit was going to be online, and it would act as an introduction to our year as a whole. And basically, I am shook at how good all our work looks together without much direction. lol.
In my practice I usually use heavy curatorial themes, a unifying device or motif, in this case it was a smart board. My thinking was errr….school-classroom-chalkboard-online-smartboard. lol. I was worried about it looking a big ‘gimmicky’ but actually I think it looks groovy and ties in with what ‘isthisit’ is about - IRL/URL, etc. I super enjoy using a group format to curate shows, back in 2015 I curated a show featuring the participants of a residency at EEA Norway at blipblipblip and I think I find the challenge of escaping a ‘degree-show’ vibe alongside the ‘ready-made’ group format a totally interesting limitation to play with.
I am actually obsessed with institutional critique which is what School of the Damned is at its core. School of the Damned is a free postgraduate art course run by, and for, its students and exists to promote access to free education as a fundamental right and stands in opposition to the current system of higher education. At the moment we are looking at the manifesto and expecting to make big changes. I believe things have changed so much in regards to social economic climate than when The School was originally started (they are worse) and things have to change, so yeah, many exciting discussions surrounding this have already started.
Helena Kate Whittingham
Where's Your Coat is an online exhibition released alongside a zine by Shy Bairns, focusing on giving a platform to artists who call the North of England home, challenging the focus on London based artists.
Where’s Your Coat, a predecessor for the full IRL show of Where’s Your Coat You’re Going To Be Cold, aims to show a body of digital work, giving a nod to how important online community and connections are for artists living in the North, specifically in rural areas. The work links to this theme of how we relate to digital and social media in vastly different ways. Tulani Hlalo’s 'Motherland' and 'Fatherland' does this by using digital video to capture the two contrasting ‘homes’ she can’t be in at once in one viewing space, while Joseph Cotgrave’s gif from his 'Elite Controller' body of work plays with themes of HIV, including how this can be circulated in the digital age through dating apps. Some works within the show relate heavily to the North of England, such as Georgia Gibson’s 'Luk’s Like a Gud Set' Facebook collaboration with her ex miner grandfather, and works by Beth Mellet, with 'Text 2 Speech' and 'SCOUSE ASMR | A-Z of Liverpool' both attempting to challenge perceptions of local dialects. Contrasting this, works such as Jack Rientoul’s 'Untitled 5 (trees)' and Chris Priestman’s 'Hunger (Connectivity)' play more on the aesthetics of digital communications. Overall the exhibition is brought together with a background of risograph (matching the constant theme of the publication), scattered with screen-printed cabbages from Eleanor Haswell’s 'Big Veg Community' zine. The show features 14 artists: Sheyda Porter, Scarlett Hirst, Jack Rientoul, Jessica Andrews, Beth Mellett, Meghan Graydon Darby, Tulani Hlalo, Liam Fallon, Saffa Khan, Chris Priestman, Joseph Cotgrave, Georgia Gibson, Eleanor Haswell and Jennifer Walton. Where’s Your Coat You're Going To Be Cold opens in Salford at Caustic Coastal on the 27th of April 2017.
Existing as a fragmented webpage of images and videos by 16 emerging artists, ‘Stored in the Depths’ presents content that has been hoarded in the depths of artists devices, consisting of moments of intrigue, accidental shots and ‘home video’ style footage that has been captured and then forgotten. The exhibition expands on an ongoing series of work I have been producing since 2015 tilted ‘750x1334’ that utilises similar content from my own device, this series and in turn ‘Stored in the Depths’ are interested in how the process of image making/capture can produce unintentional artworks. The works in the exhibition cover a broad range of themes and concepts however they are all united through their intention, each image and video has been selected for its conception as something other than an artwork. This selection process calls into question how we make that distinction between art making and image capture, is image capture a more inclusive action, and is this a process that is becoming more widely understood in an ever increasing image based environment. For the artist ‘unintentional art’ does provide a framework of unconscious creation, that perhaps allows the artist to operate outside of a more interrogated process.
Exhibiting artists include Ashley Holmes, Carly Whitaker, Holly Hendry, Isabelle Southwood, Jack Fisher, Jade Annaw, Jemma Egan, Joseph Buckley, Karl Sims, Luca George, Lucy Vann, Meg Brain, Perce Jerrom, Rebecca Gould, Sarah-Joy Ford, Tom McGinn
ebc present 1:15 a collection of 15 second works inspired by the format of the video ident or sting. feat. Hazel Brill, lewdjaw, Jaf Yusuf, Karanjit Panesar, and Daniela Zahlner.
First off there is Hazel's it has a golden dancing chip, and someone with a mic saying stuff and laughing. This ident also features a squirrel and some wooden chip forks. lewdjaw's has some x's that pivot around a bit, there are three of them, and they kind of look like there is blood dripping from them. In Jaf's a clown fish falls off a sofa, a sofa that is absolutely covered in other fish. In Karanjit's a plum coloured curtain hits a cube and floats away. It's got a green background, and there is a swelling sound. Finally is Daniela's which is very quick cut, and has Miley Cyrus in it briefly. It also has some text and green screen stuff and some old photographs. At one point there is some swearing.
It’s common knowledge that people act differently on the internet than in the ‘real’ world, with the mask of the screen to hide behind one arguably allows their true self to appear, anonymously trolling on internet forums whilst creating countless profiles on Facebook in order to ‘cyber-bully’, an old hat phrase by todays standards… Although in the post-Trump era we are seeing a revolution, or evolution, of the cyber bully, reverting to being a physical embodiment of the bully, a frightening prospect. This week’s exhibition on isthisit?, titled ‘url 2 irl 2 url’, grouped together a number of artworks that explore the disconnect that occurs between our offline and online selves and how social media is constantly used as a space to create an alter ego of oneself. As you first encounter the exhibition you’re assaulted by the consistent sound of white noise coming from Hazel Soper’s video ‘Slag. I blame the parents.’ that utilises a variety of found texts which seem to have been taken from various online message boards. These float across the screen, eventually filling the space and effectively drowning the viewer in abusive messages, specifically levelled at women, reinforcing the offline hierarchy that’s commonly reciprocated on websites like 4chan and Reddit. On the other end of the screen there’s Stephanie Wilson’s short film ‘Volume & The Void’ which sees a flimsy cut out of a robotic hand being manoeuvred, as if stroking something, which in this case becomes the film that’s being layered behind it, a close up exploration of a human hand. This subtle experience that slowly occurs over the course of a few minutes is oddly charming, and, rather than experiencing a disconnect between the two forms, I begin to see beauty on the screen, the dancing fingers of the robotic hand being embraced by the details of the human skin. Maybe a look to the robotic relationships of the future... The final piece is a digital image from Robert Cooper titled ‘@thefutureisfamous’, which is their handle on Instagram, an ongoing art project within itself where they post photographs of themselves, usually heavily digitally altered, exploring the line between the online and the offline self that is continually questioned by users of various social media platforms. As we as a race become more immersed in creating a fictitious online portrait of ourselves, it begs the question, who is the real you? Or, more personally, which one of you is the real Bob?
Limbo Lambada manifested itself as a pop-up show at HUTT and was documented and reconfigured as an online exhibition on isthisit?, featuring work by: Charlotte Cullen, Craig Fisher, Emily Simpson, Emii Alrai, Suzanne Van der Lingen and Victoria Grenier. Liminal spaces, borders, binaries as a source of tension and investigation, a language, code or system of understanding.
A binary opposition creates a dialogue or conversation, but how do binaries operate as part of our digital image culture? One binary holds a non-physical space, and is a coded language which operates a system of interaction, the internet. The internet was once considered to be a space without borders, a utopian zone. Today the proliferation of images and their consumption online, brings into question its validity as a venue for artistic and cultural exchange. The web holds an importance, as an archive documenting the exchange through physical movement and migration of language and cultural practices. Another binary, whose presence can be felt universally, is a border between nations. The binary and politics of borders, the physical definition, transience or temporality of these spaces in relation to contemporary ideas of hybridity and in-betweeness.
Your Beautiful Collective is pleased to present our group curatorial project, Not Just a Pretty Face. With the online gallery, isthisit?, as our featured platform, Not Just A Pretty Face has invited five artists working in video and digital media to produce short .gif videos surrounding themes of artificial beauty and its relationship to artificial and synthetic intelligence. This curatorial endeavour centres on the relationship between beauty standards and online spaces and how the burgeoning of synthetic online environments is analogous to the burgeoning of digitally enhanced portrayals of bodies. This series of short looping .gif videos come to represent the continuous loop of information, images and influence online platforms provide and how they come to project ideals into culture. Furthermore, this project is interested in synthetic, cyborg bodies and the relationship that exists between cultural ideals and digital platforms. With the de-materialization of the art gallery, bringing it into the digital sphere, Your Beautiful Collective is employing our engagement with art in the digital space as a mechanism to think about beauty standards and how they too are brought into and reinforced in the digital sphere. How can online platforms and the synthesization of culture, create a synthesization of the body? And further, how do digital landscapes become new terrain for the enforcement of norms and the establishment of ideals? It is these questions we hope to critically consider through the works of Jess Young, Victoria Lucas, Erma Fiend (Emily Friend), Hattie Ball and Jake Moore.
Your Beautiful Collective
G George Arts presents 'These Boots are Made For Walking', Singing after Nancy. With a contradictory reputation as one of the most assured pop fuck you songs, and the seedy celebrity around the songs producer encouraging the 26 year old Nancy Sinatra to sing the song as if she were "a sixteen-year-old girl who fucks truck drivers”, These Boots are made for walking poses a showy, theatrical quandary. As this is a particularly pertinent moment to examine the song in relation to it's sexual politics and use as a protest song (These Boots are Made for Marching), G George reached out to artists to reinterpret the song. The result is a cacophony. BFF666 and Amber Hanson Rowe's pieces cut through with jangly, defiant, insolence. A collaboration between Eden Mitsenmacher and Rebecca Tritschler undermines the idea of the archetypal "feisty woman scorned" protagonist with wit and pulsating udder-like toes. Katie Tindle also references the pressures imposed by songs of this type, as she struggles both to sing and hold the pose held by Nancy Sinatra on her "Boots" album cover. Finally, Sol King's mocking, languorous cover leaves you unsure of which of these versions is definitive.
Discourse of Machines and Machines of Discourse aims to explore the Open Source curatorial model and the Museum 3.0 ideal. Initiated by Milk member Adam Goodwin, the project welcomes the user to enter anonymously or otherwise and upload images, videos, sounds, 3D models, text works and any other form of output desired onto an open google doc. This website intervention will permit any user to produce and manipulate content at any given moment from anywhere. This is to exemplify the idea that the value of a space is determined by the sum of the activities of those who use it. The resultant data will then be curated into a three dimensional digital gallery space. Due to the users potential for anonymity while utilising the platform, full creative license and freedom of expression can be achieved void of cyber-social anxiety. The experiment seeks to allow access into the depths and recesses of public opinion during a period of worldwide unrest and tension.
This week’s exhibition saw the first solo show on isthisit? featuring various bodies of work from Roxman Gatt, an artist who goes against the very idea of medium specificity, with her work fluidly translating from painting to poetry, film to photography, and culminating in high quality 3D rendered images inspired by the gluttony and reflective nature of the internet. When you first encounter ‘The Evolution of Roxman Gatt’ you’re presented with a computer generated bedroom resembling a teenagers’, with a stack of Dazed and Confused magazines tossed to the floor and a suspiciously clean plate on the bedside table. This is where your journey into Gatt’s personal space begins, voyeuristically reading her sexualised post-internet poetry whilst nodding your head to a sombre sounding song about lost love. In many of the works Gatt is responding to the intimate connections we have with our devices, from the poem ‘Mayonnaise’ that sees her ‘sleep(ing) tight’ with the ‘peaceful light’ emanating from her computer screen to ‘hey can u c me’, a music video that feels like it’s been specially made for the fundamentally broken relationship that she has with the screen, creating this ‘spurned lover’ persona that’s obsessed with the physical embodiment of the net and wants them back in their life, ‘liking’ their status’ and ‘hearting’ their Instagram’s, proclaiming ‘cuddle me’ until someone acknowledges her existence. Whilst navigating the various pages dedicated to the different areas of Gatt’s practice, I feel like I’m beginning to reflect on my own intimate relationship with my phone or computer, objects in my life that are rarely turned off and are always with me, could I switch off if I wanted to, or would these inanimate objects creep back into my life like an unwanted friend or an ex-partner? I don’t know, and don’t think I will for some time, due to the ongoing and never-ending relationship I have with the phone in my pocket and the laptop in my backpack…
'If an image is seen out of context, has it really been taken? Traditional photography never died, it just never existed.’ - Sam Hutchinson ‘Now you see it’ is an opportunity to offer some resistance to the busy, layered and media-heavy aesthetics of digital art. Sam Hutchinson’s image 'I Only Exist as Myself (arrangement, overhanging)' in some way negates expectations when it comes to viewing on a screen. Coupled with the text 'Now You See It' the combination can be read as a comment on withheld information, the promise of more, and the momentary and fragmentary truths that come with the territory.
Romanticism in the internet era has been changed and distorted, with the idea of the individual being replaced by a mass of voices, screaming as one into the emotional abyss of social media, surfing the internet, ‘liking’ and ‘sharing’ content that’s already been presented to a million other people, just like you. The new romanticist Instagram’s their private moments of sorrow, retweets a photograph of an evocative landscape with some accompanying nihilistic text whilst eating their vegan breakfast and tags their friends in a YouTube video shared on Facebook after being appropriated by the LAD Bible. ‘Romanticism: The 2k17 Edition’ features two artists, both of them being highly aware of their individual self, exploiting their bodies and the environments that they inhabit. Madeleine Andersson AKA ‘girl irl’ has spent countless hours crafting her own Instagram personality, effectively performing to the camera in a series of short, Amalia Ulman esque, looping videos that see her interacting with the materiality of the screen whilst reacting to the endless possibilities for self-determination online. Andersson being ‘popped’ out of existence by her own hand whilst eerily staring into the camera lens, for example, or continually taking her top off, to reveal the exact top underneath, over and over again. These quick, endless videos, are accompanied by a film by Soo Hyun Choi titled ‘Snow Romance’. In the video we see the artist take to the stage of a photography studio, which then proceeds to be filled with foam, creating an awkward juxtaposition between the beauty of Choi dancing as simulated snow falls across her face with the illusion-breaking way in which the whole piece is filmed, making one aware of the studio surroundings and the falsity of the snowflakes. In a sense, you’re drawn in by this broken narrative, having been shown behind the curtain from the beginning, as opposed to Andersson’s video series that seeks to convince the viewer of girl irl’s legitimacy, until the perfect image is shattered and the balloon is popped.
Dr Manbumhole initially approached Jonny Tanna and convinced him that he was Bob Bicknell-Knight's uncle and flew all the way from Kilburn high road. Dr Manbumhole insisted that there is plenty of money in giving gentle advice and gifting wisdom to the less knowledge-d. He somehow convinced us that the site would be just a 'cultural abyss and meandering nonsense' without his advice and in exchange for his service, to be cut a cheque for a reasonable fee of £70,000. He also asked to be granted anonymity but we can use an image which would give an accurate representation of what he actually looks like. The piece depicts the alienation felt by an older generation of first generation immigrants of modern society and complacency placed in our enabling of vanity and the ego driven so called 'counter capitalist' culture which is unwittingly contributing to the very thing it targets. Dr Manbumhole represents the solitary, the silent and the repression older men feel due to fear of being accused of bigotry or ignorant.
“Body Preservation” considers the uploading of content onto online communication platforms as a method of conserving and archiving our bodies. However, as new technologies become redundant and the industrial structures that contain the seemingly immaterial Internet begin to degrade, the exhibition examines the temporality of these archives. Jillian Mayer’s “MegaMega Upload” is an excerpt taken from “#PostModem”, a satirical musical that envisions the technological singularity of our imminent future. Mayer employs the DIY aesthetic of the vlogs and instructional ‘how-to’ videos that frequent Youtube when inviting her viewers to join her in transcendence. However, this aesthetic breaks down the Utopian aura surrounding future technology, instead implying limitation and fragility. In “EGO LIBIDO XVIII: Losing Myself”, Keaton Fox questions social media platforms as a digital void; a forum in which information is neither received or rejected, but simply exists. Alluding to the banality and lack of individualisation that is a common feature of its content, Fox presents an archive that becomes lost within the interchangeable masses. Jaimie Warren’s “Self-portrait with Torn Mouth and Milk” is taken from a larger series of GIFs that appropriate moments from horror cinema history. The exaggerated B movie aesthetic complements the immediacy of the medium, whilst, in the context of this exhibition, its graphic nature conjures the ‘body in a jar’ scenes of early scientific experiments in preservation. As a strong and easily digested form of visual communication, GIFs move virally, rising and falling in rapid trends that now last no more than a few hours - an urgent expression that is soon forgotten. Through the appropriation of content into a contemporary medium, Warren highlights to the viewer that, as the rate of technological advancement increases, our means of expression can quickly becomes outdated as formats inevitably become inaccessible.
Life is about wealth. Money. Getting it, keeping it, spending it. Gaining more that we spend, holding it and stroking it. Loving and worshiping it. Nothing else provides such freedom and power. Some say it’s like a drug. But it’s no addiction, it’s a lifeblood. It is life. There are many ways go get money. The first decision you must make, is would you like to do it legally, or illegally (5. Print Money, 10. Steal). Or in the moral grey area that pretty much is illegal but technically isn’t (12. Exploit People). Then you must choose whether you are willing to work for it, or to simply invest what you already have, and watch it grow like a seed which you water and nurture with care (1. Win the Lottery, 6. Master Alchemy 11. Exploit a commodity). Or you could apply yourself and actually do something worthy of wealth, bring something new into the world and help the lives of others (8. Invent something) Then there are the lazy ways, which any idiot knows are the best. Who wants to work for their money? (2. Move to America, 3. Become famous, 4. Follow an online scam, 7. Marry someone rich) And finally, there are a few ways which are a little more left-field. Outside-the-box. Redefine the parameters (9. Pretend, 13. Dream it, 14. Lower your expectations). Fourteen ways to master life/money/life.
A lot of important things happened in 2007, from the first iPhone being released, to the surge of 30,000 troops being brought into Iraq from the U.S. Alongside all this, Kaiser Chiefs’ indie rock track, ‘The Angry Mob’, was released, discussing the way in which society keeps people under control via the tabloid media and an established 24-hour drinking culture. The first exhibition of 2017 ironically utilised one of the lines from the song, connecting the works within the show under the exclamation, ‘WE ARE THE ANGRY MOB!’ The exhibition features Martin Kellett’s silent video compilation ‘Cinecuperation’, a mashup of slightly dated television adverts, transporting the viewer back in time to their consumerist past. As the film continues on one sees more and more adverts geared towards the idea of the other, considering the notion of the unique self, culminating with a family of clones in a seeming utopia. Also on show is Dominic Ewan’s looping video ‘Angry Mob’, a simple animation harnessing the ‘angry’ emoji commonly used on the social media platform, Facebook. The endless screams from the disembodied heads functions as the only sound for the show, adding a new layer to Kellett’s seemingly unobtrusive advertising experience. A photograph from Matt Greenwood’s series of prints titled ‘Field Work’ bridges the gap between the two videos, documenting a simple structure that no longer exists. Maybe this becomes a flimsy metaphor for the lack of television we now watch as a society due to the advent of streaming services?
isthisit?’s last online exhibition of 2016 was titled ‘Oh Dear’, a sort of reflection of all the apparent disastrous events of the year, utilising the various displayed works to craft a narrative of distress, confusion and unwanted arousal. Rebecca Glover’s piece ‘Too Hot’ served as the overarching soundtrack for the show, permeating into the other works, visualising the feeling of punctuating through a material that’s created in Glover’s spoken word sound piece. The work is said to imagine what it feels like to emerge from the ice after 350,000 years of dormancy, and in this sense it feels like the work is attempting to make the viewer reflect on the current happenings in the world, forcing you into the position of the outside, emerging from the ice, reflecting on the year just finished with ‘fresh’ eyes. In a way, the piece asks the viewer to reflect on the other works in the show from a different viewpoint too, discarding a pre-determined outlook. Ciara Lenihan’s video work ‘Cicerone’ sees the artist presenting reworked stock footage of classical Grecian ruins. Throughout the piece we see Lenihan wander up to various sculptures and historical spaces, imitating a museum guide, earnestly gesturing at the spaces that are deemed noteworthy enough for our eyes to see. Is Lenihan mocking how we as human beings value our history, creating an industry around these spaces, or is she legitimately in awe of these arguably enriched spaces, as the occasional pitched choir song would suggest? Or, coming back to Glover’s work, are we meant to be re-thinking how these locations are being used/function in contemporary society? The final work is a video piece from Tulani Hlalo’s series of films titled ‘As Shape Not As Sign Of Human Or Narrative’. It’s both disturbing and attracting, confusing the viewer for the few seconds that it takes for them to realise what’s actually occurring on screen… What is happening?
‘Wow, isn’t the internet the best?’ ‘Isn’t it so great?’ ‘Everything and anything is just a few clicks away!’ isthisit?’s 35th online exhibition titled ‘isn’t the internet great?’ brings together a variety of works both celebrating and lamenting the idea of the internet, considering the increased connectivity of our everyday lives and the niche cliques that have formed within the virtual walls of the web. Each of the pieces are layered on top of one another, building towards Samantha Harvey's video piece 'iSurrender' which consists of various disembodied arms surrendering to the viewer, or the screen, or the point at which the viewer and the screen collide, or the overwhelming vastness of the internet meme machine. You decide. The arms are accompanied by a dubious soundtrack, which is both fun and incredibly disconcerting due to its repetitive nature. Behind the piece is Marissa Wedenig's digital collage 'Old Age in Virtual Reality' which looks at how elderly figures in society are acclimatizing to the advent of the internet, forming gangs in the offline and online worlds that they regularly inhabit thanks to the easy access of the ‘free’ internet. Joseph Jackson's simple digital print 'The Perfect Holiday' explores the globalization of leisure and our increased exposure to aesthetically pleasing holiday-scapes on a daily basis. This is overlaid on top of Hannah Edward's film 'How Did We Get Here?' which utilises Google Earth to explore the way users are navigating the world around them with the help of the web, and how the internet is slowly twisting our perceptions of the world, creating a distorted version that can only be seen through the glistening sheen of the screen.
Albert Einstein famously said “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” This is, of course, referring to the ever growing advancements in nuclear warfare, both in Einstein’s life span as well as our own, and how ultimately the human race will destroy itself and have to start over from the beginning. This type of reflection, on the past, present and future societies of our world, served as the basis for isthisit?’s 34th online exhibition, titled ‘Embrace The Past, Forget The Future’. Naomi Ellis’ video piece ‘Three Clay Fragments Dancing’ utilises an eBay listing for Bronze Age clay pot fragments as a case study to discuss ideas of virtual time distortion and object history. For the duration of the film the fragments, having been projection mapped onto wet clay, are slowly manipulated and moulded, which becomes a visual representation of the choreographed narratives that are fabricated by eBay sellers to promote and sell their questionably legitimate historical products. Accompanying this methodical break down of a pot from the past is Emma McNamara’s increasingly painful film ‘Harvest’. The work sees a heavily pregnant woman from the future, hooked up to a machine that resembles a prop from any number of Cronenberg films, an envisioning of the Orwellian future to come. It’s not clear whether the relationship between woman and machine is a mutually beneficial one, with each of the participants in this bizarre ritual in a succumbed state of narcolepsy. The backdrop to the two videos is a print from Louis D’Arcy Reed, which comes from a series of works titled ‘what i mean to say and what i've always tried to say’. The series attempts to engage the viewer in various narratives, meditations on the everyday by utilising inspirational quotes and memes juxtaposed with desert landscapes that inspire contemplative moments. In this instance, the quote hanging over this exhibition is ‘Destroy Yourself’, which encourages the viewer to consider where the world is going, and the different ways that we can deal with this post-Trump, post-Snowden, post-truth world.
This is it. It isn't is it? Oh it is. There has to be more, no? Why are we all sooooo docile though? The 33rd online exhibition on isthisit is loosely based around institutional critique and frustrations with censorships and the 'art world'. Titled 'it isn't is it?' the name is a direct critique of the online exhibition space itself and critique is imbedded from the outset. Artist Liv Fontaine’s work ‘Let’s talk about art’ consists of Liv voicing her frustrations with the current cultural climate. 'Can U pay my rent please’, 'I can't even afford the submission fee for your grant' are lines in the work that resonate with me the most. The work also incorporates the irritation that occurs when your work consists of critiquing the commodified sexual woman, which then in turn becomes something that works against you; ' thinking is working and working is thinking but thinking isn't paying, but I gotta keep making.' Ugh, same! The work sits alongside Lilli Mathod’s cultural interference ‘Sketch Show’, which is wrapped up with contemporary comment within the guise of menial office conversation. In turn showing how bored she is with the everyday. The work is reminiscent of artist day jobs and I was particularly interested in the notion of these jobs informing practice. Mathod portrays many characters throughout her sketches with an air of absurdity in the mundane or albeit familiar. 'Are you tired of being overworked, underpaid, devalued and unloved day after day' (YES!) Mathod states as she considers very similar problems as Fontaine. The works flow symbiotically with sardonic undertones. Fontaine dominates the exhibition and Mathod compliments it. Both works consist of women talking to the screen and at times you see symmetry in the work, whether they are looking at each other or both looking at you, the viewer, through the screen. Liv’s shorter performance repeating on a loop only emphasizes the message more alongside Lilli's durations piece. Together they approach the issue of institutional critique in unison. For me, it was important that the works sat on this online exhibition space and not AFK as I am interested in the accessibility and affordability that the internet promises to uphold, becoming an embodiment of institutional critique in its own form.
Helena Kate Whittingham
For the 32nd online exhibition, titled ‘Forward Thinking Futures’ three video works were exhibited, each looking towards the future of various objects or philosophies. Patrick Schabus’ film ‘We had the experience but missed the meaning’ is made up of scavenged and distorted footage, fabricating a fictitious future society that seems to be reflecting on the past state of video as a medium, whilst simultaneously informing the viewer of how film is being seen in this future tense. Having created this narrative, Schabus is able to reflect on the now as its occurring in front of our eyes; a feature of the piece that becomes increasingly meta as time continues forwards. Amber Clausner’s seemingly oppressive experience ‘WE FEEL’ is a collection of clips taken from YouTube, each of which predominantly feature the film maker vocally responding to the environmental phenomena that they’re documenting. In doing so, Clausner is visually critiquing how we consume content in the digital age, usually through the medium of a screen rather than through our own eyes. The childlike voice that’s heard throughout seems to hint at the wonder that is simulated by individuals everywhere when watching these short videos online, grown adults being transformed into awe inspired infants. The final piece, Andrew McSweeney’s video ‘I Don't Lie On a Chaise Longue...’ is responding to an interview with Sean Scully where the artist was basically stating that he didn’t sit around and complain all day, basking in the wealth that he had already accumulated. Although Scully belongs to an older generation of artists, his forward thinking personal philosophy is more attuned to a younger artist, working his way towards future success. This quote from Scully has been transformed by McSweeney into an incredibly minimal, endlessly repeating animation.
The 31st online exhibition was called ‘Emigrate or Degenerate’, part of a quote from a government tag line in Philip K Dick’s renowned science-fiction book, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’. The text comes from an advert, encouraging people to emigrate from Earth to Mars, to move towards a more networked reality. Within the context of the exhibition, I’m utilising the line in order to discuss post-humanist theories and the idea of the cyborg body, which is becoming more and more prevalent in life, as well as the artwork that people are creating in contemporary society. The exhibition is slightly dominated by Natalie Wardle’s video work ‘Cocky and Contour’ which sees the artist almost giving herself a second skin, layering on multiple coats of makeup as audio garnered from YouTube beauty bloggers is continually heard throughout the piece. Sandrine Deumier's exquisite video piece 'U.hotel' accompanies Wardle’s film, following an ambiguous character across various transformations and non-place locations, questioning the ambiguity of the trans-humanist vision. Simeon Banner's painting 'Client Server Relationship' depicts a figure, engrossed within the screen of their phone, seemingly unaware of their surroundings, already a cyborg because of their attachment to their technological device, as argued by Eula Biss in her book ‘On Immunity: An Inoculation’. The exhibition ends with Emma Connolly's painting 'Skin and Bone' that focuses on an internal body and the beauty of the organic form, bringing us back to the apparent present day formations of the human condition.
For the 30th online exhibition, titled ‘Progress Quest’, three artists were selected. The name derives from a video game of the same name, where the players job is solely focused on inputting and accumulating arbitrary statistic points, which are displayed on an excel-like spreadsheet. This idea of time accumulation and degradation is considered in each of the three works for this exhibition, be it in a very literal way in terms of how long the work actually took to make, or in a more philosophical way in relation to progression and pursuing a never ending goal. Within the show, all three of the works are layered on top of each other, slowly moving through the waves of different art movements and idioms. One is first encountered by Karl Russell Vickers' collage print 'See That Loophole Over There?' which contains a variety of appropriated imagery, evoking a feeling of strangeness within the seemingly loosely put together creation. Tim Hodkinson's video piece 'Present' is positioned behind the print, featuring outwardly organic forms and a melodic soundtrack. The moments of hyper-saturation that occur throughout the film forces the viewer to consider these environmental tableaus in minute detail, continually asking the unanswerable question of how long one should interact with a work of art. The exhibition is finalized with Dom Chastney's painting 'Cell' that focuses on ideas of mark making and repetitive movements, whilst utilizing found objects in order to create 'clean' areas of the canvas.
The title of the 29th online exhibition by isthisit? was titled ‘Private Assurances’, pertaining to how all three of the works either questioned the idea of privacy, or allowed the viewer to engage in other peoples’ private moments. Alice Watkins’ website, ‘How can this be private?’, is an ongoing archive of found texts taken from the titles of porn videos found online, with the names growing increasingly more violent towards women as you scroll down the seemingly endless page. Although the thumbnails of the videos have been discarded, the view count and number of ‘likes’ are still displayed, continuing the question that was originally posed by the title of the work, how can this be private? Flanking the website is Silvia Carderelli-Gronau's video 'Share' which features the artist and her son, exploring a city whilst enabling the viewer to discover the complexities of their relationship. It’s an incredibly subtle experience, featuring Gronau interacting with various spaces and locations that the boy introduces her too, dancing in tandem with her son’s skateboard as their relationship is wordlessly presented to the viewer. Finally, there's Lottie Walsh's ambitious film 'Where We Go Next (A Place That's Neither Real nor Fantasy)' which explores various unnamed territories, mixing real world locations with virtual creations. These private landscapes are continually surveyed from the sky, occasionally lingering on various intricate details and idiosyncrasies of the different environments.
isthisit?’s 28th exhibition was called ‘Collab with me’, referencing the famous scene from the 1971 film ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’ where Gene Wilder (Willy Wonka) sings ‘Pure Imagination’ whilst showing the golden ticket holders the first area of the factory; the chocolate room. The tour group are astonished by what is presented to them, almost immediately running off to gorge on every piece of confectionary that the room has to offer. Each of the works presented in this weeks show have a very excitable, childlike wonderment to them, as if the artists have only just begun working with the ideas that they’re presenting within the work, as if they have only just started their journey into the factory, with far more enticing delights awaiting them. D'arcy Darilmaz’s ‘Finger Painting Argument’ harnesses found footage alongside conversations collated from social media websites to question how contemporary art is perceived on the internet. Is Darilmaz looking down on these people, as someone who clearly knows about art, or simply presenting to the viewer how modern art is viewed on social media today? Another work, created by Tom Stockley titled ‘A Hideous Trend’, harnesses low quality aesthetics in order to critique their common usage in art today, becoming the problem that he seems to detest. Does Stockley not understand why this visual trend, a utopian time machine that allows people to reminisce about the beauty of the 90s, has become prominent in the 21st century, or is he simply bored of seeing films that look like they’ve been filmed on a potato? Tyler Robarge's short film '...potential to do good?' physically links all of the pieces together, considering the ethics and relationships that artists have with their subjects. The work manifests itself as a piece of found footage, a hand held experience that shows a figure moving a tortoise off of a deserted road, simply moving the animal onto the verge of the road, still in harm’s way. Is this a metaphor for how artists treat their subjects? Or more specifically, how artists treat their subject matter, with reference to the two earlier, arguably misguided, works.
Environmental Exposure, isthisit?’s 27th online exhibition, featured two artists, Camilla Edstrom Odemark and Jack Ratcliffe. Both works consider the environmental issues that are currently affecting ‘our’ world, and the different ways people are discussing the aforementioned issues. In Odemark’s video work ‘This Happened to Us’, the viewer is continually presented with multiple layers of a screen, peering through pixelated forests and virtual domains to observe what’s happening ‘beyond the wall’. The visual metaphor of a snake eating itself, alongside consuming other snakes in its vicinity, is continuously used throughout the six-minute odyssey as a way of discussing the procrastination that occurs on the internet on a daily basis. The piece is partly covered by Ratcliffe’s ‘Digital Forest’, a continuously changing biome generated in real-time from the results of the Bing search engine. Similar to how Odemark’s film discusses procrastination on the internet, this work explores how quickly political and social movements are forgotten, with users of the web repeatedly jumping from one cause to another, never really considering what’s happening in the world around them. To me, the works are incredibly sombre, revelatory mediations on how lives are lived online and offline in the 21st century.
Exhibition #26 was named ‘Watching, Looking, Looping’, relating to how each of the video pieces being featured utilised the mechanism, or the idea of, looping, with the films endlessly repeating until the viewer decides to close the tab of their chosen web browser. Grace Lee’s animated video work ‘Looper’ depicts a figure, not dissimilar to the artist, walking down a path, only to fall over and be ‘re-born’ due to the experience, pushing themselves out of their old cocoon like skin and continuing to walk down the same path once again. The idea of re-making or re-moulding oneself after a tragic event affects you is not an old idea, but one that feels incredibly poignant after watching Lee’s subtle video. Accompanying ‘Looper’ is Bob Bicknell-Knight’s ‘Autonomy 2.0’, a work that depicts a family of Sims going about various activities within their home, from brushing their teeth to making breakfast. The positioning of the viewpoints, simulating active CCTV cameras, makes the viewer feel almost voyeuristic, even though they’re ‘only’ virtual people, and not ‘real’. As you’re watching ‘Autonomy 2.0’, Owen Thakeray’s ‘I'm Not Phased by this Dickhead’ is silently watching you, asserting whether or not your worth it’s trouble or not. The ‘it’ I refer to is some sort of extra-terrestrial, with a bone like head and a dead, almost tired look in the space where you’d imagine it’s eyes to be. At this point during my experience of ‘Watching, Looking, Looping’, I feel slightly violated, and can now empathise with the Sims, always being watched and never watching. I almost feel bad for experiencing the simplistic beauty of Lee’s work, knowing full well that the ‘dickhead’ was watching me the whole time, or am I the dickhead in this narrative? I don’t really know anymore…
For the 25th exhibition on isthisit? there were three works presented, all surrounded by the title of the show, which was ‘1995 – 2001’. This is a reference to the ‘dot-com bubble’ that occurred during that time, where investors pumped money into various Internet-based start-ups in the hopes that these small companies would soon turn a profit. Each of the works are unconsciously responding to this time period, either by utilising the internet as a medium or as some form of inspiration. Jack Fisher’s video piece ‘YOU2PIA’ utilises an iPhone 4 to document a recent journey through Spain. Beginning in a supermarket, accompanied by a rendition of ‘Vertigo’ by U2, all the beauty and allure of capitalism is at its highest. We are taken through various locations, filled with music and pleasure, with the ending surmounting to a silent sombre look at a huge, architecturally intricate building, as if Fisher has indulged himself in the wealth of the country, albeit reluctantly. William Noel Clarke’s work ‘Curator Porn’ takes a collection of images produced by participants of a recent residency and exploits them, focusing in on the various images as an overlay of famous curators repeatedly appears on the screen. The title suggests that this work is some sort of (soft) porn for curators, that they won’t be able to help themselves but to imagine what they would do with these images if they got their hands on them. For me, it considers how anyone can be a curator now, as long as they have an internet connection and a domain name, not unlike how this website started out 25 weeks ago. Lois Williams’ print ‘I can paint’ duplicates a Vaporwave, 90’s Photoshop aesthetic, taking you back to the utopian ideals of the past, before the bubble burst and everything came crashing down.
The 24th exhibition on isthisit? was called ‘Online Experiences’, which considered the various notions of what it means to be exploring the internet in the current climate. Pippa Eason’s video 'Its Only Romantic on The Internet’ visualises a technology enthused post-apocalyptic wasteland, which is confined within the white walls of a gallery space. Here, Eason seems to be harnessing the idea of the ‘White Cube’ as a visual metaphor for the various screen based devices in our own lives, and the apocalyptic visual feast mimicking the seemingly chaotic scenarios that occur within our own phones and computers. Next to this is Var Sahakyan’s disturbing film 'Circle with a diameter 8', that sees the artist staring down the barrel of the camera, through the computer screen and into your personal lives, silently judging your every move as we see the emotions on the artists' face slowly change. Is Sahakyan embodying the stereotypical white male NSA employee watching us through our webcams, or is he simply showing us the various sides of these government run organisations, which can be both brutal and forgiving? Ruiz Stephinson's film 'I'M LONELY BUT NO ONE CAN TELL' was also featured, exploring how people in first world societies are slowly assimilating to living vicariously through other individuals' lived experiences online, through social media applications like Instagram and Facebook. All these works are grouped together into a huddle, mimicking how one effectively ‘buys’ into all these experiences when ‘surfing the web’ in 2016.
Isthisit’s 23rd exhibition was titled ‘You Don’t Own Me’, taken from Lesley Gore’s song of the same name. The song focuses around the singer telling a lover that he does not own her, that he is not to tell her what to do or what to say, and that he is not to put her on display. This was a starting point for this week’s show, which attempts to take a glimpse into the portrayal of women in the online world, as well as in first world societies. Each work is centralised around Amy Dunwoody’s film ‘I'm Addicted to You’ which endeavours to present an uncanny reflection of screen-saturated teen culture and questions whether our internet obsessed society has damaged both generation Y and Z’s feminine subjectivity. Bearing this in mind, all the other works find themselves implicitly responding to her video, simply by locational association. This is an interesting phenomenon to consider going forward. Nicola Parker’s series of photographs ‘Perfection Obscura’ considers ideas of body image and how the very meaning of beauty has gradually changed over generations while Rose Sinclair Doyle’s fragile sculpture ‘Obey’ seeks to symbolise the hidden psychological abuse that can occur within a marriage. A collaborative video work by Sian Fann and Susi Disorder is the final piece of this week’s puzzle, considering an idea of ‘the selfie’ alongside female identity in the digital age. Inserting the artist into an 80s esque digital landscape, we see the multiple figures being slowly consumed by the screen until there is no more. “You don't own me, I'm not just one of your many toys, You don't own me, Don't say I can't go with other boys.”
For exhibition #22, two pieces were shown, each harnessing works and styles from famous artists. Ana Pastor’s video piece ‘"My one regret in life is that I am not someone else" Woody Allen’ takes a humorous look at the pressure that one has in the art world to achieve a utopian idea of success. Utilising found footage, the artist superimposes a giant smiling face onto various characters from the art world, from Ai Weiwei to Marina Abramović, becoming the artists in question whilst simultaneously anonymising them, placing them behind the unblinking, constantly smiling, papier-mâché head. The clips that are used span a number of years, and are accompanied by ‘Why Can’t I be You?’ by The Cure, a song originally released in 1987, so it’s unsurprising that the work feels slightly dated, which functions well in conjunction with Jack Ratcliffe’s ‘Mondriane’, an online clock that utilises the colours and shapes of Piet Mondrian’s various ‘Composition’ paintings. Ratcliffe brings new ideas to Mondrian’s old paintings, whilst Pastor brings old ideas to new video sources, all made available via the internet.
Exhibition #21 was all about the deconstruction of information, with each of the three different works analysing data in various ways. Katie Tindle’s ‘Workbook 8’ explores the artist’s desktop and a constantly evolving Excel spreadsheet, with a range of personal data being added as the video piece continues on. It all feels very open and free, taking into consideration ideas about personal space in the age of the internet, which feeds well into Sarah Crew’s video piece ‘Reclaimed Lands’, which she describes as an “engaging, poignant and at times humorous alternative in-flight film”. Over the course of the four-minute escapade, the various narrators explore the notion of lostness, questioning whether someone can truly be lost in the 21st century internet machine. Will Hurt’s generative animation ‘Automated Spatial Transformations (House VI)’ ties everything together, with 3D models of buildings endlessly reconfiguring themselves in an information overload.
For this week’s exhibition, #20, three works were featured, with the very basic underlying theme of summer, or more specifically the negative connotations of the beach. This began with James Choucino’s endless soundscape ‘Beach Holiday’ which explores the word ‘beached’ and the different meanings it can convey. The more you listen to the robotic voice saying ‘beached’ over and over again, the more I’m reminded of Jon Rafman’s video work ‘Oh the Humanity’, blobs of figures being crushed together in a wave pool. When listening to Choucino’s work, rather than beached wales, I think of beached humans, slowly melting into the sand on a distant beach somewhere. Leading on from this was Campbell Mcconnell’s video work ‘Deck Chair’, featuring the artist repeatedly attempting to sit in a chair. The repetition and tediousness of both of these works is so evocative of the various activities that middle class people take part in whilst at the beach; most commonly sitting in the sun, on a chair, attempting to tan, fully aware of the fact that the tan will be gone in a few months’ time. The final work ties this whole, pointless experience together; a pastel drawing by Galina Munroe simply titled ‘MR CRAB’.
Exhibition #19 had a medical focused theme, bringing together Joseph Cotgrave’s film 'Elite Controller 1.5', which considers the stigmas surrounding HIV being circulated through ‘meaningless hook-ups’ encouraged by gay dating apps, and Kate Frances Lingard’s series of films titled ‘DOSAGE ONE-FOUR’ that responds to hallucinations suffered by patients in Intensive Care Units when put under prolonged medical sedation. In these ICU’s, due to the amount of time that the human brain is effectively ‘shut off’, patients are known to suffer from PTSD and depression after their treatment; with the doctors focusing on “saving the physical but not considering the mental”. This links into the emphasis of Cotgrave’s piece; educating young people about the potential risks of HIV and safe sex, thinking with your mind rather than your body. The soundscape created by all four of Lingard’s videos provides a rather evocative accompaniment to Elite Controller, with snatches of speech reinterpreted in the context of the male body parts serving to sexualise both works, in a slightly problematic way.
#18 was focused around Bex Ilsley’s endlessly repeating video piece titled ‘Twist the Head, There's Another Below’, composed of purple, totem-esque figures with bob haircuts, reminiscent of a Sphinx’s, reaching up to a considerably larger alien/god like creature that seems to be birthing the Sphinx like beings, which appear to be the inner, fragile being within all of us that has control over ones’ emotions and actions. Leading on from that was Henry Badrick’s fragmented video work ‘this is clay, this is chaos, this is collected’, a piece that utilises various objects from different institutions’ collections in order to craft a dialogue with a piece of text by William James concerning the different selves that are present within us all. To tie everything together, there is Peter Barnard’s distorted soundscape called ‘Variations on Silence’ which is made up of corrupted audio files which originally contained 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence. To me, Barnard becomes a digital archaeologist, endlessly digging into audio files in the hope that some relic from previous ‘broken’ sound pieces could be discovered and used. The god-like imagery and obsession with one’s own identity in Ilsley’s work coupled with the analysis of inner selves by Badrick accompanied by the use of ‘stolen’ objects from collections and the cultivation of broken audio files by Barnard, brings the various pieces together to form a coherent exhibit.
For #17 there were three different works from three different artists, each considering the idea of the simulation in their own unique way. This began with Thomas Tyler’s video work ’Liquid Perfection’, contemplating notions of millennial narcissism, which was aptly linked to video games, particularly those with single player narratives from the late 90s/early 2000s, where the simulated worlds revolved around you as the player, disconnected from the internet and your peers. In these virtual worlds you as the player are constantly the centre of attention, a fact Tyler uses within the film to question whether or not the video games that millennials connected with when they were young has had an impact on their later life solipsism. Helena Kate Whittingham’s ‘Cabin Fever’ accompanied Tyler’s work, featuring the artist dancing to Fever by Madonna, donning a purple wig whilst staring back into the webcam, seemingly obsessed with her own performance. The audio on YouTube is muted for copyright reasons, playing into ideas of ownership and consent which is prevalent in both video works. Jake Mullins’ 'White and Blue Pot' completes the simulation, with a painting imitating the 'perfect home' which is always present in Home Style magazines, containing various plants sitting on a clear surface.
This week’s exhibition, #16, had the overarching theme of relationships, with Taylor Ellis’ digital assemblage 'I still look at your profile' being the centre of attention, focusing on a relationship that was ended in real life, with the subsequent ‘internet stalking’ being facilitated, and somewhat encouraged, by social media websites. It has a very DIY aesthetic, with the choice to transform the text bubbles into text boxes an incredibly deliberate one, forcing you to actually observe what’s going on within the collage rather than dismissing the messages as mere offhanded text messages sent over I messenger. This was complimented by Seren Metcalfe’s video work 'Empathy for inanimate objects' where she manipulates a concrete block in order to portray how one feels when they’re in an unrewarding relationship; giving everything but gaining nothing. Concrete blocks are also used in buildings and structures all over the world, providing the foundations, walls and floors of the rooms that we inhabit on a daily basis. Having a relationship with a given space leads me onto Adam Saunders performance work 'Gesture 1.1'. Using software usually associated with live projections at music events, Saunders utilises 3D motion tracking programs to control music by making small, gestural movements with his body. Each artist seems to be looking at the different relationships that puncture their daily lives, Ellis with a defunct lover, Metcalfe with the very rooms she inhabits and Saunders with his own bodily actions.
isthisit? #15 contained three works, with two of the pieces functioning as vignettes to Agnieszka Zimolag's video work 'Phantom Surface'. The film, seeking to blur various barriers between the real and the virtual, feels incredibly clinical and considered, almost too perfect. This constructed ‘hyper-reality’ that Zimolag introduces the viewer to is contrasted by Laila Majid’s endless gif of a tongue, ‘wibblewoBBbble sllurrrRrRpy prrrRRobe’. This short repetitive visceral experience brings Zimolag's work back to ‘our’ reality, reminding you that everything isn’t quite so overly produced in ’real life’, and quite literally connects Levan Amashukeli’s painting ‘Automatic Reality’ to the virtual assemblage. A work that contains elements of fantasy blended with reality whilst exploring the artists’ memory shadows, the watery reds of the painting attempt to function in contrast with the mixture of greys and blacks within Zimolag's video as well as complimenting the pinks of Majid’s tongue. Each piece is severely dominated by Zimolag's soundtrack, a darkly ambient soundscape that opens up another point of interpretation for both Amashukeli’s and Majid’s work, adding an overarching experience to the micro exhibition.
#14 featured three artists focusing on ‘the internet’ as a general theme. Neale Willis’ video/sound piece was created from the sounds of deleted tweets; which is interesting within itself! This was put together with a painting by Stacey Davidson, who’s practice is loosely inspired by internet memes and internet culture in general. They’re a mixture of found imagery attached to the canvas alongside very subtle mark making. The final work to accompany these two was a gif by Servgi Tan, a self-portrait of herself which to me looks as if she’s blindly looking into her computer screen, watching a film or consuming her daily dose of social media whilst slowly falling asleep. Is she tired because of the endless memes and tweets? Or is it something else? I don’t know...
Exhibition #13, had work from 3 artists, Ben Galyas, Marissa Wedenig and Aidan Johnson (Clerk 37). The works all revolved around Galyas’ video work, which was made up of various images flashing up on the screen. Mostly images from popular culture, pixelated slightly, making it seem like they’re clippings taken from newspapers. This creates a stream of consciousness which becomes even more chaotic with the addition of Clerk 37’s incredibly frenzied footwork/drum and bass soundscape. This is ‘topped off’ with Wedenig’s stylised painting that focuses on late night texts with newly formed relationships. I feel that each piece works well with one another, forming this fast paced environment to experience.