Art What is post-internet art?
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What is post-internet art?

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Anna Frattini

The expression post-internet art can be divisive and at times incomprehensible. Let’s clarify this term a bit. The term emerged in the early 2000s when Marisa Olson, a visual artist and curator who was collaborating with Rhizome was searching for a definition to describe her work as a visual artist—a combination of online and offline creations. Olson’s intention was not to coin a term that indicated the future of contemporary art after the invention of the internet, but rather to find a word that would help her and the collective she co-founded, Nasty Nets, define that branch of art that celebrated, albeit with criticism, the world of the internet. Due to many misunderstandings, this term and its creator have faced numerous criticisms over the years.

post-internet art
Marisa Olson, Performed Listening: Boomerang (2008)

Today, post-internet art means the artistic strand that deals with the impact of the Internet in the world of art and culture. Unlike Net Art, which used the Internet as a medium in the late 1990s, times have changed. Now artists like Amalia Ulman, Jon Rafman and Cory Arcangel use content from the Web to create works that reflect on the relationship we have not only with the Internet but also with social media.

  • Argentina’s Amalia Ulman has used a variety of mediums over the years, from painting to smartphone apps, exploring the links between consumerism and gender identity, social classes and aesthetics.
  • Jon Rafman’success came with 9 Eyes, a series in which the artist “stole” some shots from Google Maps using the Street View mode. His critique of the internet world has reached far, incorporating its rich vocabulary and visual culture to develop poetic narratives capable of capturing the tension between the human and the machine, as seen in his recent exhibition, Ebrah K’dabri at Sprüth Magers in Berlin last April.
  • Cory Arcangel is another post-internet artist who plays with pop culture through techniques like digital hacking and reconfiguration. Arcangel employs bot performances and machine learning tools, such as in 2021 when his solo exhibition Century 21 in New York featured Let’s Play: Hollywood, a type of deep-Q machine learning supercomputing system capable of playing any open-ended RPG game in real-time.

Ph. courtesy Marisa Olson, Amalia Ulman, Jon Rafman, Cory Arcangel

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Written by Anna Frattini
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