Divided into three sections, this collection of short texts by artists, writers, curators and academics aims to provide a current snapshot of how the rise of networked culture in the last decade is affecting the way art is made. In doing so it sets out intelligent and accessible responses to the main debates – from differing interpretations of what ‘post-Internet’ actually means to the contradictions inherent within the corporate ownership of the social media platforms we like to perceive of as ‘public’ space. For the more Luddite reader, there’s a handy glossary (from ‘avatar’ to ‘World Wide Web’) at the back.
Along the way it also introduces a general audience to some of the artists and writers engaging with these subjects, with the eight essays in section one including James Bridle on defining ‘the new aesthetic’ and Brian Droitcour unpicking the use of language and its relation to code in Ryan Trecartin’s complex film scripts. The second set of texts act more as a rallying cry, not only highlighting the extent to which the Internet is a contested territory of corporate and government versus public control, but how it is up to artists and the public, via mechanisms including subversion and encryption, to claim ownership back. If the final section, ‘Projects’, adds least to the debate, it’s perhaps the one disadvantage, in this context, of placing artworks within the pages of a book. But it’s a slide into anachronism that editor Omar Kholeif himself is well aware of, acknowledging that in ten, five or even one year’s time, the arguments, issues and online platforms under discussion here will not only be old but probably irrelevant.
This article was first published in the September 2014 issue