If you know anything about art you probably have some awareness of the great movements in the art world - Impressionism, Surrealism, Dadaism, Postmodernism … too many to name here! More recently, it's Post-Internet art and artists who have surfaced from ideas into the common consciousness.
Post-Internet Art has emerged from the awareness that we live in an image-saturated world, with methods of capturing, reproducing and editing developing more and more each day. The surveillance of our society is at an all-time high.
In this art movement, the artists reflect on the impact of the internet on our world, and the way we now live in it.
The term was coined in academia in 2008, and drew a clear line of difference from net-art of the 1990s.
Whereas Internet/Net Art from the late nineties and noughties consisted of digital art disseminated online, artists that work with Post-Internet concepts address the interesting and odd cultures that have sprung out of the internet’s complete infiltration of the human experience (think along the lines of Netflix’s speculative fiction series, Black Mirror).
Awareness of surveillance has led many artists addressing this theme. Canadian Jon Rafman’s ongoing 9 Eyes project takes advantage of already implemented surveillance infrastructure to curate hundreds of photos sourced from the internet.
He demonstrates how surveillance captures the entirety of contemporary human experiences - including the cute, the scary, and the downright odd.
Rafman scoured Google street view to present his audience with the most bizarre, fascinating and sometimes confronting scenes captured by the cars driving streets of the world with their nine lenses.
The images confront the viewer with small moments of human interaction and nature; the innocence of children skipping, a man holding a weapon in a rabbit mask, a near naked woman screaming at the Google car, a beautiful composition of sunlight streaming through a forest.
In a similar vein, artist Jenny Odell’s work also trawls through the “stifling sea of instantaneity” that she calls the internet. But while Rafman focuses in on the micro, Odell does the opposite.
Using images found through Google Satellite Images, the artist creates recognisable imagery from the alienating, sky-down perspective landscapes provided by the web. One such project, Burn, saw Odell collecting images of coal repositories across the world; using the internet to remind audiences of repetition of circumstance across the world.
Playfully creating social critique, Odell also took herself on a ‘virtual road trip’; in which she used Google Street View and other online sources to map a fake photoshopped journey across the country. Realistic to a T, Odell factored in elements such as petrol, food and distance.
Eventually published as a book, ‘Travel by Approximation: A Virtual Road Trip’, false photos of the artist in situ were accompanied by a narrative and references to places learned about through sites such as TripAdvisor.
While Odell said the final work emphasised, the ‘flatness and deficiency of my virtual experience’, to I think it also comments on the virtual vicariousness we experience today through social media.
We watch others on Instagram and other platforms travel through photoshopped and orchestrated images of happiness - but how accurately does that reflect reality?
Post-Internet art is still an evolving movement. It shines a mirror back on ourselves and our sometimes thoughtless participation in pervasive and invasive online environments.
To some, post-internet art may still seem like a vague term with dubious meanings and applications. But with critique and artist involvement growing almost as fast as our ways of interconnecting online, these ideas are not going anywhere in a hurry.