The Art Object in a Post-Digital World: Some Artistic Tendencies in the Use of Instagram

Abstract (in English): 

This presentation aims to reflect on two labels that have been used to define sets of artefacts born out of the same context but evoking different connotations. I refer to the terms “post-internet” and “post-digital”. Both terms allude to a post-stage, a leap that announces a cultural shift, perceived by artists but difficult to pinpoint and demarcate with precision, a prefix that might refer to ‘after’ (chronologically) as well as ‘beyond’ (spatially); often used to highlight that what has been superseded is the novelty and exceptionality of the internet and digital technology. Actually, these terms address the fact that digital media is no longer a form of mediation but it has become our ontology, though this new form of being is of such a diffuse, complex and assembled nature, not even Haraway could have anticipated it.
Triggered by impulses of excess and overindulgence, on the one hand, or sustainability and preservation, on the other, post-internet and post-digital art emerge from a networking and tech-savvy sensibility that has altered the relation between artist, audience, and art object.
In particular, I am going to focus on the work of artists that use Instagram as an art gallery for exhibiting their work (Almudena Lobera, Johanna Jaskowska, Lucy Hardcastle) or to sabotage the platform from the inside (Amalia Ulman, Joshua Citarella). Bearing a family resemblance to electronic literature, these works also explore the narrative process in the construction of an artist’s identity, the changing territories of human-machine/artist-spectator interactions and digital-analogue materializations. The art objects they produce can be classified as “phygital”, physical/digital constructs that inhabit, in a myriad of different possibilities of mediation and convergence, the physical and the digital spaces.
As artists explore the platform’s potential as exhibition space, advertising site, and conversation aisle, their phygital objects reflect the tensions between a nostalgia for an analogue craftsmanship which rebels against machinic perfection and an interrogation of human creativity that propels us into the future through an ever more profound symbiosis with our technological habitus.

(Source: author's own abstract)


ELO 2021: Post-digital platforms?, May 28

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Lene Tøftestuen