Parallel to the CeBIT and the 2015 Hannover Messe, the group exhibition “Digital Conditions” focuses on the interaction between digital technology and art. The Kunstverein Hannover is featuring works that examine digitality as a structural characteristic of present-day reality orare employed as a technical means of production. In what ways do artists appropriate digital technologies and what influence does the use of 3D graphic and animation programs or web services like Google Map and Google Earth for example have on such media as photography, film and sculpture? How is the ambivalent significance of digital technologies reflected in art?
Bringing together 13 exemplary artists from different generations who deal with the subject of the digital present, the exhibition sheds light on the pictorial and intellectual worlds of the digital cosmos from various perspectives.
Early works, for example Lee Friedlander’s (b. 1934) black-and-white photographs of office workers sitting statically while staring vacantly at computer monitors, already document the physical impact that the computerized working environment had on people in the 1980s. Julien Prèvieux (b. 1974) likewise explores the interplay between technology and the body in his animated film What Shall We Do Next? (Séquence #1) (2007–2011), in which he isolates typical schematic hand motions involved in operating Smartphones and Tablets from the context of their use, thus revealing how technology influences our daily movements.
The Canadian artist Jon Rafman (b. 1981) compiles found picture material from the Internet in his drastic film Film Still Life (Betamale) (2013) to produce a psychogram of people who loose themselves in their virtual existence and seek sensory experiences in the world of online fantasies. The works of Thomas Ruff (b. 1958), Lorna Mills and Katja Novitskova (b. 1984) similarly make use of images found on the web. Both Ruff’s pixilated large-format photographs from the Jpegs series (2007) and Lorna Mill’s bizarre GIFF animations underscore specific visual characteristics of these data compression technologies and reflect on forms of visual communications in the digital age.
Katja Novitskova’s expansive installation Patterns of Activation (on Mars) (2014) transfers the found footage from the Internet back into real space by constructing a film set. The image of a marabou and a red yield curve become sculptural protagonists as cardboard stand-ups in scenario that is transmitted live to a monitor.
Hito Steyerl’s (b. 1966) presents numerous variations about how to remain unnoticed in the age of the omnipresent digital image in her film How Not to be Seen. A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File (2013). A computer voice babbles subversive instructions about becoming invisible, how to become an element of a picture like a chameleon or shrink smaller than the pixel size of a satellite zoom. As an explicit Monty Python remake, this ironic and critical piece is oriented both formally and structurally on Internet tutorials.
Virtual 3D modeling is the prerequisite for the well-known filmic pieces Two Minutes Out of Time (2000) and One Million Kingdoms (2001) by Pierre Huyghe (b. 1962) as well as for the works by Yngve Holen (b. 1982) and Avery K Singer (b. 1987), which return digital picture spaces to the permanence of material objects. Singer’s painting and Holen’s sculpture respectively undergo a multistep media transfer process, the results of which turn the classic comprehension of medium and support upside down. In both of Huyghe films, by contrast, the computer-animated Manga figure named AnnLee finds complete expression solely in virtual space. While One Million Kingdoms combines original imagery of astronaut Neil Armstrong during the first manned moon landing with passages from Jules Verne’s novel “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” and focuses on the human desire to explore the unknown, AnnLee ponders in Two Minutes Out of Time about her existence as a fictional casing that waits to be filled.
The group show “Digital Conditions” ventures a look at the omnipresent and still nascent phenomenon of the digital age. What is the relationship between the analog and the digital, the physical and the virtual? Where is the boundary between subject and object, and how authoritatively can such boundaries be defined?
Lee Friedlander, Mishka Henner, Camille Henrot, Yngve Holen, Pierre Huyghe, Lorna Mills, Katja Novitskova, Julien Prévieux, Jon Rafman, Thomas Ruff, Avery K Singer, Hito Steyerl, Michael Wolf.
March 14–May 25, 2015
Curated by: Ute Stuffer and Kathleen Rahn
At Kunstverein Hannover, Germany
Writing via press release