Oct 15, 2020 - Dec 18, 2020
artists: Onyx Andra, Ellena Basada, sean chamberlain, Mandy Messina, Charlie Miller, Melaney Mitchell
curated by: Kyle Cohlmia, PNCA curatorial fellow
Compared to the limits and boundaries of physical spaces, our virtual realities feel open-ended, a limitless experience of searching, clicking and scrolling. Site indexes, a reprieve from the often exhausting act of research, provide users with the opportunity to explore the internet using a list of curated databases. Categorized either alphabetically or topically, these inventories seem comprehensive, listing synonyms of words and concepts as “see also,” under main categories (e.g. “See also: Manet,” under impressionist painting).
But what happens when the “see alsos” limit users to researching only predetermined, canonized content? What topics are not mentioned or erased from our digital and personal lexicons when interacting with these indexes? And further, what is the relationship of digital art to the common site search?
Michael Conner of Rhizome writes, “we use the metaphor of the object boundary to help guide conversations about the role that a given software or network context might play in relation to a given work.” If digital art is without material boundaries, then “objecthood is only the performance of objecthood, and the boundary is not a given, but a variable.” These variable performances, while not new to the study of digital art, when examined in context of the user, become more expansive.
As the current global pandemic necessitates the use of the internet for many in-person activities, the user’s role in relation to technology becomes, like digital art, more and more performative and excessively variable.
(see also:) variable performances of a well-designed site index examines the variability of performances in digital space. Artworks such as “Femi(net)” by Melaney Mitchell use digital tools to expand on representations of gender within the virtual realm, and “Stuck inside” by Charlie Miller adopts 3D animation to simulate the effects of COVID-19 on our relationship to nature. While site searches have the ability to provide a one-stop-shop for research, (see also:) seeks to call-out the homogeneity within these databases, further examining the variable performances within new media art as well the user’s performance in the digital realm, disrupting the act of passively clicking on link after link after link.