In 1972, John Berger co-produced Ways of Seeing as a four part documentary airing on Channel 1. Here he argued that the medium through which we view art is inseparable from the art itself. Eg, if you’re seeing a Ming dynasty vase being cooed over by Fiona Bruce on antiques roadshow, not only does ur tv become a fundamental part of that viewing experience, but so does the BBC 1 production team, and the adverts either side of the programme. 

I wonder if Berger ever imagined a time where screens would be our only way of consuming culture. Corona Virus has changed the arts; everyone and their uncle has an online exhibition. Who could have anticipated our current situation, where the internet is our only possible means of seeing art? What does this mean? Is there a difference between seeing art irl and online?

Our project, Remote Reviews, is dedicated to looking at these new online spaces, and trying to work out whether materiality has any impact on how meaningful art is today, or whether digital platforms, with the benefits of accessibility, have superseded the need for galleries & museums. We’re also going to try & explore how the online shift has impacted artists & non-profit spaces, as Covid-19 highlights the gulf in funding between public & private arts venues.

Maggie Hazen
📍️ Online

Night Moth: A Mythology of Escape 

Maggie Hazen,  D.W., and 𝗝𝘂𝘃𝗲𝗻𝗶𝗹𝗲 𝗝𝘂𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝗗𝗶𝗴𝗶𝘁𝗮𝗹 𝗔𝗿𝘁𝘀 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗷𝗲𝗰𝘁.

Artist Maggie Hazen and D.W, a resident at the Columbia correctional faculty for girls, have digitised their ongoing sketchbook exchange and have together created something really beautiful. Their multimedia web piece is part of a larger project called JJ-DAP, a media mentorship project for incarcerated girls.

Entering a cell, we are invited to unlock videos by tapping the various objects within. We explore the world of a green fantastical figure, Luna, whom we follow through a series of dreamlike clips.

The dancing fairy imposed on the moon was one of my favourites- encapsulating the internal desire for movement and freedom, as a 60s soul track plays- it’s a perfect portrayal of escapism.

I also enjoyed the bed clip which showed a restless night moth dreaming of an underwater scene with her seven-legged octopus friend.

The written piece, ‘Mythology of Escape’ is particularly special- big Ed Ruscha vibes with clever depth.

By clicking on the digital notebook you can see their musings, their discussions, and their sketches. This meeting of the physical with the digital allows the viewer to piece together how such a clever online show was born from their epistolary correspondence.

This collaboratory project is a powerful and novel depiction of different types of isolation which has an especially significant resonance today.

I urge you to check out the exhibition here along with @jj_dap

James Webb
📍️ Konig Gallery/ Online


Thomas Webb @ Konig Gallery 

I downloaded König’s app today + was keen to explore and review all three shows on the platform, but one work really absorbed my attention.

Thomas Webb’s 'EXERCISE IN HOPELESS NOSTALGIA: WORLD WIDE WEBB’ is seriously good. A seemingly light hearted game effortlessly evokes reflection and encourages the player to think into the present and close future.

The 80s style pixels brought comfort + I was immediately amused by the satirical caricature of Berlin; picking herbs for points and waiting 60 seconds in the queue for digi-Berghain only to get rejected by the gate keeper: “n o t t o n i g h t”.

Spending time in a pixelated Berlin, this mobile browser game got deeper as new realms opened up, as my avatar travelled through the city to reach König gallery.

I don’t want to give too many ~spoilers~ but unlocking the exhibition’s description by a virtual Johann König after finding the curator, Anika Meier’s, face mask was an amusing highlight.

I became more and more impressed as the game went on, leading intelligently to a thoughtful critique of data, AI, and tech; in the artworks shown in the virtual space, as well as the video game itself.

Thomas Webb is an artist, hacker and coder, and while I can’t get myself out to Berlin to see the IRL show, his digital art space is really cool.

📍️ Online

We=Link: Sideways
Chronus Art Centre

On opening up this platform, you are met with a 90s desktop background + a basic text box displaying the Press Release. It perfectly initiates the exploration of early Chinese internet culture that follows in this net-based show.

I had so much fun exploring this virtual space - the works are so original + genuinely entertaining.

I loved Jonah Brucker-Cohen’s + Mike Bennett’s ‘BumpList: An Email Community for the Determined’- an interactive conceptual piece that allows the visitor to subscribe to a mailing list, only to be removed once it reaches capacity. A flux of curious enrolment and involuntary removal.

‘Default filename tv’ by Everest Pipkin devoured my attention- think of it as the noughties’ answer to Tik Tok. The work finds and plays Youtube videos that were uploaded from the camera without edits to the filename. The result is addictively mundane - ranging from a clip of a regional ballroom dancing competition to a film of a tortoise mounting another. The randomness of the proceeding video is discomforting- but also very funny. Its playful nostalgia makes this work really special.

There’s a wealth of incredible online art pieces on this platform - go go go check them out! Link here.

James Bridle
📍️ Verso

New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future; James Bridle

I got James Bridle’s 2018 ‘New Dark Age’ for Christmas, after Will Self said it was ‘scary’ or something similar in the Guardian.

Using the analogy of the ‘cloud’, an omnipresent, all - encompassing, network of connectivity that absorbs our daily lives, Bridle seeks to uncover the deep, technological infrastructure that keeps us online, and the apparatuses of power in place to do this. Bridle terms the cloud of technology as a ‘hyper-object’; too large to comprehend, even as we live in it. I think it’s particularly relevant to what we do here at RR, where we look - entirely- at digital spaces. With the rise of rona, we, collectively, are plugged into this cloud more than ever b4.

Following on maybe unconsciously (they are never mentioned) from post-structuralist thinkers like Lyotard and Habermas, Bridle challenges an enlightenment view that more knowledge = human progress. Here, computational thinking does not necessarily lead to the best results; in fact big data swamps comprehension, rather than adding to it - the ‘new dark age’.

Bridle is at his strongest when discussing the internet’s materiality. While we think of the internet as something ephemeral, he points to the servers, the data centres, the ocean floor cables, and the satellites and other infrastructure that often goes unseen, overlooked, or wilfully ignored.

Would rec if you’d like to think a bit more deeply about how and why the internet works - it def made me think twice about our utopian opinion of technology and what it can do for us.

Cargo Collective

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