By Marisa Olson on Thursday, April 2nd, 2009 at 12:30 pm.
The National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) in Athens, Greece, has committed itself to curating a number of recent exhibitions of internet art. Their current show, "Tag Ties and Affective Spies," features contributions from both net vets and emerging surfers, including Christophe Bruno, Gregory Chatonsky, Paolo Cirio, JODI, Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar, Les Liens Invisibles, Personal Cinema and The Erasers, Ramsay Stirling, and Wayne Clements. The online exhibition takes an antagonistic approach to Web 2.0, citing a constant balance "between order and chaos, democracy and adhocracy." Curator Daphne Dragona raises the question of whether the social web is a preexisting platform on which people connect, or whether it is indeed constructed in the act of uploading, tagging, and disclosing previously private information about ourselves on sites like Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook. Dragona asks whether we are truly connecting and interacting, or merely broadcasting. While her curatorial statement doesn't address the issue directly, the show's title hints at the level of self-surveillance in play on these sites. Accordingly, many of the selected works take a critical, if not DIY, approach to the internet. The collective Les Liens Invisibles tends to create works that make an ironic mash-up of the often divergent mantras of tactical media, culture jamming, surrealism, and situationism. In their Subvertr, they encourage Flickr users to "subverTag" their posted images, creating an intentional disassociation between an image's content and its interpretion, with the aim of "breaking the strict rules of significance that characterize the mainstream collective imaginary..." JODI's work, Del.icio.us/ winning information (2008) exploits the limited stylistic parameters of the social bookmarking site. Using ASCII and Unicode page titles to form visual marks, a cryptic tag vocabulary, and a recursive taxonomy, their fun-to-follow site critiques the broader content of the web by crunching it through the filter of an open platform. The show has an obligatory tag cloud and, in true JODI style, this piece is tagged "del.icio.us, detournement, ww w w w w w." In a work that generated much discussion on Rhizome, earlier this year, Ramsay Stirling reminds us of the history of the relationship between viewers and electronic media. By adapting Richard Serra's and Carlotta Fay Schoolman's Television delivers people (1973), Stirling's Internet delivers people (2008) follows the hacker tradition of making only a few small modifications to the text to comment on the similarities and differences between producers, consumers, and products in the television and internet contexts. The exhibit is also accompanied by essays by Alessandro Ludovico on "Identity as a multilayered self in Web 2.0 environments" and Juan Martín Prada on "Forms of Resistance," who concludes that it may only be through that latter that we will "see what is truly 'social' about 'social media'."
- Marisa Olson