Post-internet thoughts

Catching up on a pile of art mags I recently read Cornelia Sollfrank's excellent Revisiting Cyberfeminism in the May/June ART PAPERS (don't judge, it was a beautiful summer in Oregon, at least I got to it eventually). The article seems particularly relevant as we wrap up our current exhibition of Eyebeam alumni.

Sollfrank writes that "Digital networked technology undoubtedly unleashed a revolution...[yet] the Internet has turned out to be the primary agent of neoliberal governance, and by enabling all-encompassing surveillance, it has given unimaginable power to corporate control and state espionage." Yep, good with that. 

Sollfrank goes on to raise concern that post-internet artists are overly comfortable in this environment of disillusionment and dystopia. They have replaced formal innovations using technology, and critical thinking, with use of internet content for formally traditional and market-friendly artworks.

I can point to many artists for whom this concern is spot-on. Interestingly, not all of them would be considered post-internet throughout their work, if by post-internet Sollfrank means artists who simply assume the centrality of the internet as their milieu. And many of them are too old to be "digital natives," which is worth pointing out only because I frequently hear people elide post-internet practice with chronological age of the artist.

At the same time, I do not think this concern can be raised for all or even the majority of artists who are comfortable with the internet as assumed milieu, artistic medium, and subject matter. Our current exhibition has given me much satisfaction in this regard, as Eyebeam director Roddy Schrock curated in 7 artists (Chloë Bass, Zach Blas, James Bridle, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Zach Gage, Brian House and Addie Wagenknecht) who are intelligently critical in their stance toward our era of internet. The curatorial challenge was to make objects, so the work also adheres to certain formal standards common to the white box gallery. But, it never feels compromised or glib.

Perhaps this is just another example of how the term post-internet can lead otherwise reasonable people to appear to disagree because they think they're talking about the same thing but they're not because no one knows what the term means. Another day I'll round up 10 definitions of post internet to see how quickly they cancel each other out.