A web art exhibit forces visitors to confront the past

Saved emails, Geocities pages, a Windows 98 emulation. All are parts of the deleted web, the web that can no longer be easily accessed. And all are part of an exhibition of the museum called "The art that happens here: Net Art Anthology", which is currently shown in the New Museum.

The name of the exhibition, "The Art That Passes Here," comes from a 1997 diagram. By an artist duo called MTAA, which shows a lightning bolt symbol between two computers and an arrow that points to it: " Art happens here. " "They wanted to show people that the artwork was not something that was shown on a screen, it was more about an encounter they had with other users," says Rhizome artistic director Michael Connor The Verge, " There is no object, the idea of ​​an art network is based on things that come together in this way live."

"Art happens here" suggests that web files can also be art. In the exhibition, different artifacts from the web of different cultures, circumstances and Internet pockets are recovered. But when creating art, many of these artists have left crude comments on extremely important historical events. For example, there is a blind spot Miao Ying a Chinese dictionary with 2,000 terms deleted, which reflects terms that would become censored when trying to search Google in China in 2007.


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In an interview with Rhizome, the digital art organization behind "The Art Happens Here", Miao explains that he was inspired to draw attention to censorship. China because "people in China do not realize what censorship is; for them it's just a note at the bottom of the page. "But at the same time, the terms hidden in their dictionary remain hidden from museum visitors, nor are they translated, so visitors who are only in English will not have luck.

The problems that Miao poses in his exhibition also appeared on the news recently: many Chinese Twitter users have disappeared from the platform after a police crackdown in the last semester.Some have been arrested for publishing in the platform, which is blocked in China, others have lamented the disappearance and, at times, self-censorship of important voices on the platform, some of which have served as much-needed social comments for a country closed to criticism.

The access appears again and again as a question on the display. In the distributed monument of Morehshin Allahyari, Material speculation: ISIS the artifacts of the real life of Iraq that were destroyed by the ISIS in 2015 are remade as 3D printed models. Originally, Allahyari showed all these models, but soon realized that they only showed them to viewers in the West and not to their original audience, and echoed how Western museums have historically exhibited artifacts from around the world that were stolen or looted. during colonialism. It was an awkward association for Allahyari, so he finally retired most of the models except one, according to Connor. There is an SD card with all the data for the models inside that she has sealed inside the model that remains on display.


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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales

Archives help preserve a sense of what was lost. "How can we recognize what is lost?" Asks Connor, who highlights the art on the Internet as an exploration of this question and others. "The Art Happens Here" also recognizes other tragedies in our history: the attacks of September 11 in New York and the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. These works of art are hidden more deeply in "The Art That Happens Here," but they get to the heart of what is being explored here.


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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales

The work of Wolfgang Staehle Untitled from 2001 is a transmission of the skyline of lower Manhattan during the attacks of September 11. Staehle had originally created three Internet transmissions, one in New York, one in Berlin and another in the Benedictine monastery of Comburg in Germany. The blurred footage was composed of still images that were updated every three seconds. His intention was for the exhibition to explore "what happens when nothing happens," he told Rhizome, but once the planes crashed into the towers of the World Trade Center, his art was transformed into a documentary of senseless violence.

The artists duo YoHa Graham Harwood and Matsuko Yokokoji, produced the exhibition Lungs in 2005, which takes Nazi data that were compiled at the time through IBM technology and turned them into a memorial of software poems. The data provided information on some of the 4,500 slave workers who worked in a munitions factory during World War II.

YoHa wrote an application that could count the total lung capacity of the workers and then reproduce the sounds of the artists breathing to illustrate the amount of breathing that was accumulated. The exhibition was a way to humanize hard data. Harwood said in a 2010 interview that he was interested in "exploring IBM's relationship with such conditions to help the Nazis prosecute slave workers." The questions posed by YoHa are still relevant years later.

"Art happens here." Until May 26th. The New Museum in New York City is closed on Mondays and you pay for what you want on Thursday nights.

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