I’ve been reading recently all about post-Internet art and what it is. Initially, I thought it sounded like it should be something revolutionary and exciting but I now know that it isn’t really. In fact, the term has been around for a while. It is actually as ubiquitous as drinking coffee in coffee shops. In fact, the two often come together.
The ‘post’ part of the term might imply that it succeeds the excitement of the ‘newness’ of the Internet, making one think of something avant garde, but the term in this context actually refers to a stablisation that comes after the excitement of the new. Just as ‘post’ modernism refers to a sort of backpeddling from the ‘new’ of modernism. Post-Internet also refers to a sort of backpeddling from the new.
Writers such as Marisa Olson, Gene McHugh and Artie Vierkant are well-known for their attempts to describe how virtual technologies have shifted artistic practice and production in recent years. They variously talk about how the Internet has infused art practice and how it has evolved from the domain of geeks to the domain of more ‘ordinary’ artists. Post-Internet art has been described as the new pop art. I quite like that. Perhaps it is.
What I find ironic and disturbing is the realisation that anyone who practices art and uses the Internet in some way for inspiration, for source material or as material, or to promote themselves is a post-Internet artist. I had been a post-Internet artist since I started learning art again and I didn’t even know it.
I now use the Internet extensively in my art: to find material, to post material, to gather material (from other people) and to create artwork. I am a committed post-Internet artist. One of the key symptoms of post-internet art practice is blogging about art on the Internet so the day I wrote my first blog was the day I signed the post-Internet artist contract. ‘Exhibiting’ my art online puts me firmly in that camp (along with all the millions of Instagram users).
But post-Internet art is only half about being on the internet. It is about straddling both online and offline. It is about picking, mixing, hybridizing, playing and rehashing. It is about being an alchemist: turning the plethora of virtual ‘stuff’ into gold. Just as post-modernism was about those things. I am being a post-Internet artist when I’m commenting, liking, sharing, procrastinating, avoiding. I am the epitome of the post-internet artist in a coffee shop with the phone in one hand, the sketch pad in the other.
We are at the age where it has all been done before, and it can all be found online. So is the trick is to accept my post-Internet label and take what has been done before and twist it into something original and beautiful, or look at our digital existence and make a thought-provoking metaphorical statement about it? I guess that is what I am trying to do most of the time. I’m interested in how we view objects via the Internet and how we can have a ‘love’ of the objects of the Internet (and indeed those that give us access to the internet such as this laptop). My obsession with things filters into the online world.
If post-Internet art is so prevalent, is it, in fact, actually quite boring and bland now? Would it be better to be artist who lives beyond the post Internet? Should I aspire to be a post-post Internet artist? I’m not sure I know how to do that. But I think the time is ripe for something new.
Kholeif, O. 2014. You Are here: Art After the Internet. Cornerhouse & SPACE, Manchester