My ongoing research on the intersection of internet art forms, late capitalism, and politicized identity supplements my academic work and teaching in generative ways. Recently, I have curated and co-curated exhibitions at The New Museum of Contemporary Art, Rhizome, and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at the New School; published in the Rhizome journal, including this long-form essay and this interview; held research fellowships at Rhizome’s archive of digital art and the New Museum Seminars; taught a graduate-level seminar on the history and theory of new media art at the New School; and gave lectures on the politics and aesthetics of internet art at the New School’s Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and the Education Department at the New Museum. Below are more detailed synopses of my recent exhibitions.
Unplay: Action, Affect, Attention (2016)
The Vera List Center for Art and Politics at the New School | New York, NY
Click here to view the exhibition Website
Click here to view video documentation of the panel discussion that followed my exhibition
Today, capital’s totalizing tendency to encroach on social time can be felt in virtually all realms of life. The very idea of “free time” has become an illusive figment of the bourgeois imaginary, a euphemism for unpaid labor time. Rather than being free, time is always bound and overdetermined by the imperatives of capitalism. And yet, the notion of play continues to animate our desires, reorganize our attention, and incite our imagination. In the age of multi-million dollar e-game competitions, however, the fateful commoditization of play is all but unmistakable. Unplay: Action, Affect, Attention brings together eight artworks whose interpretation of play effectively calls into question the meaning of play in the face of capitalist appropriation. Each work offers a unique take on the contemporary politics of play as a moment of pause and reflection in a world where our attention, emotions, and pleasures are increasingly quantified as likes, and financialized as ad revenue. Part of the series Mobility and Post Democracy, organized by the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, Unplay was the first installment in the segment titled “Right of Refusal” on October 24, 2016.
Real Life Online (2015-2016)
The New Museum of Contemporary Art and Rhizome | New York, NY
Click here to view the New Museum press release for the exhibition
Click here to view the online exhibition in full
Writing in the late 1970s, Michel Benamou identified performance as the dominant characteristic of postmodern society—a cultural landscape where everything performs. Technology performs, the news performs, art objects perform, poetry performs, politics performs, and, most critically, we all perform, be it gender, race, sexuality, class, or any other expression of politicized identity that we enact.
Today, the internet has transformed capital’s age-old demand for ubiquitous performance into a twenty-four-seven reality. Users are constantly asked to produce and consume content, update software, respond to notifications, earn ratings, click, share, like. And yet our capacity to imagine and perform possible alternatives—to pursue love, political projects, social connection, community, and self-determination—has not been exhausted. “Real Live Online” brings together eight new works of internet performance by artists who explore the form’s social, aesthetic, and political deployment within contemporary relations of production. Even where they highlight the limitations of the internet, the works reaffirm our enduring endeavor to defy the web’s protocological pressures, mobilizing its possibilities for collectivity against its imperatives of control.
Together, the works in this exhibition summon an image of the web as a performative, malleable, and contradictory platform for political and artistic experimentation, marked as much by the promise of subversive action as by the constraints of power structures. Throughout the course of this show, these conflicting forces play out as the internet mutates to the extent that it performs. With each piece, the web is reworked: from a platform for spiritual and ordinary rituals to a testament to our endurance as gamers and workers; from a digital time warp where we wait, and then sleep to a tube and telescreen where we watch and are watched; and from a surfable archive of moving images to an index of the historical present, culminating in a looping live feed of recorded real time.
Collection: Hypertext (2015)
Rhizome | New York, NY
Click here to view the online exhibition in full
This Collection brings together works from the Rhizome ArtBase that show a range of artists’ and writers’ approaches to creating hypertext-driven works for the web, spanning nearly two decades.
Hypertext is a nonlinear form of digital text that allows a user to choose their own pathway among multiple interconnected elements.
This nonlinear way of structuring texts or documents, first articulated in a nascent form by Vannevar Bush in 1945, has important implications for the practices of reading, writing, and social memory. As a result, hypertext has played a central role in the history of electronic literature, or e-lit, as well as net art and videogames. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, authoring programs such as Eastgate’s Storyspace and Macintosh’s Hypercard allowed specialists and hobbyists alike to create their own hypertext literature. The rise of the web and HyperText Markup Language, or HTML, allowed browser-based hypertext works to reach wider audiences in the mid-1990s, while early net artists began to incorporate hypertext into their work.
As the web increasingly shifted to platforms and social media rather than individually authored pages, hypertext works became less prevalent, but the rise of the user-friendly hypertext authoring software Twine in the early 2010s brought the format a new surge in popularity. Trans authors, in particular, have embraced the genre, using it to challenge traditional narratives, model alternate social realities, and build empathy, and as a form of personal expression.