The internet is many things. It is physical: a set of networks, cables, wires, and protocols operated by disparate software and hardware across the globe. It is also a social and political construct: a set of social exchanges that have wide-ranging effects. The internet has changed how we consume information, exchange goods, conduct research, present our public and private selves, date, shop, make friends, and travel. It has transformed attitudes and mores, affected how societies see themselves and others, and has challenged our perceptions of reality and truth. It has influenced every facet of our lives and virtually every field, industry, and discipline, including art.
Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today addresses the profound influence of the internet on art. Thematically organized, this exhibition examines how art in every medium—including painting, moving images, sculpture, photography, web-based projects, and performance—has been radically transformed by the cultural impact of the internet. Themes explored in the exhibition include emergent ideas of the body and notions of human enhancement; the internet as a site of both surveillance and resistance; the circulation and control of images and information; the possibilities for exploring identity and community afforded by virtual domains; and new economies of visibility accelerated by social media.
The earliest work in this exhibition is from 1989, the year the World Wide Web was invented—which subsequently opened the door to user-friendly browsers and our current, seemingly ubiquitous, social media platforms and apps. Spanning three decades, the exhibition is presented against the backdrop of widespread cultural and social upheaval, from the fall of the Berlin Wall and protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989 to recent events such as the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, the election of Donald Trump, and current debates about net neutrality. The sixty artists, collaborations, and collectives featured in this exhibition present multivalent artistic strategies that respond to our shifting present, whether with romanticism or cynicism, optimism or pessimism, civility or antipathy, or often acomplicated combination of them all.