The Image Object Post-Internet : Artie Vierkant
“Post-Internet Art” is a term coined by artist Marisa Olson⊘ and developed further by writer Gene McHugh in the critical blog “Post Internet”⊖ during its activity between December 2009 and September 2010. Under McHugh’s definition it concerns “art responding to [a condition] described as ‘Post Internet’–when the Internet is less a novelty and more a banality. Perhaps … closer to what Guthrie Lonergan described as ‘Internet Aware’–or when the photo of the art object is more widely dispersed [&] viewed than the object itself.” There are also several references to the idea of “post-net culture” in the writings of Lev Manovich as early as 2001.
Specifically within the context of this PDF, Post-Internet is defined as a result of the contemporary moment: inherently informed by ubiquitous authorship, the development of attention as currency, the collapse of physical space in networked culture, and the infinite reproducibility and mutability of digital materials. Post-Internet also serves as an important semantic distinction from the two historical artistic modes with which it is most often associated: New Media Art and Conceptualism. New Media is here denounced as a mode too narrowly focused on the specific workings of novel technologies, rather than a sincere exploration of cultural shifts in which that technology plays only a small role. It can therefore be seen as relying too heavily on the specific materiality of its media. Conceptualism (in theory if not practice) presumes a lack of attention to the physical substrate in favor of the methods of disseminating the artwork as idea, image, context, or instruction. Post-Internet art instead exists somewhere between these two poles. Post-Internet objects and images are developed with concern to their particular materiality as well as their vast variety of methods of presentation and dissemination.
It is important to also note that “being Post-Internet” is a distinction which carries ramifications beyond the art context as a societal condition at large, and that it would be antithetical to attempt to pinpoint any discrete moment at which the Post-Internet period begins. Any cultural production which has been influenced by a network ideology falls under the rubric of Post-Internet. The term is therefore not discretely tied to a certain event, though it could be argued that the bulk of the cultural shifts described herein come with the introduction of privately-run commercial Internet service providers and the availability of personal computers.
Art and arts pedagogy has become so inextricably linked with a variety of interpretations on the Conceptual art doxa that it would be impossible to argue against any artistic gesture being automatically tied to its reception and the language surrounding it.
Increasingly the majority of both our cultural reception and production is mediated through some descendant of a Turing machine.
The latter is a schema already intuitively arrived at by artists in recent history, prompting writers as diverse as Rosalind Krauss and Lev Manovich to proclaim a “Post-Medium Condition”3 and the rise of “Post-Media Aesthetics”4 (Krauss using it as a vessel to decry art marooned in medium specificity, what she calls “technical support;” Manovich uses it to offer a sketch of how one might categorize different types of art in an environment without traditional notions of “medium”).
The former, an art object’s lack of fixity in representational strategy, is less often explored.
In the Post-Internet climate, it is assumed that the work of art lies equally in the version of the object one would encounter at a gallery or museum, the images and other representations disseminated through the Internet and print publications, bootleg images of the object or its representations, and variations on any of these as edited and recontextualized by any other author. The less developed stratagem for pointing to a lack of representational fixity is that of taking an object to be represented (to be more direct, presented) as another type of object entirely, without reference to the “original.” For objects after the Internet there can be no “original copy.”
These are conditions endemic to Post-Internet society, allowing for a ubiquitous authorship which challenges notions of the “definitive history” or the “original copy.”
While art may no longer have to contend with an idea of “mass media” as a fixed, monolithic system, instead it must now deal with both itself and culture at large as a constellation of diverging communities, each fixated on propagating and preserving itself. Increasingly though, mass media and the world of “the screen” is our communal space.
The goal of organizing appropriated cultural objects after the Internet cannot be simply to act as a didactic ethnographer but to present microcosms and create propositions for arrangements or representational strategies which have not yet been fully developed.
If, in Post-Internet culture, artistic production must deal with arrangements and representations of images and objects taken from any cultural context, how do we conceive of sorting the artists themselves? How do we judge the spaces in which this work is exhibited, on the Internet and off? As Lauren Christiansen writes, “with today’s burgeoning potential for digital mass viewership, transmission becomes as important as creation.