The need to share every waking moment of our lives on the internet in exchange for immediate digital validation is a looming cultural elephant, known by all, discussed by few. This rampant phenomenon serves as the thematic basis for Temporary Highs, the latest group show at New York’s bitforms gallery, with works by 11 contemporary artists including notable names like Jonas Lund and Petra Cortright.
“I started thinking about Temporary Highs when I was working at an auction house. I was interested in how the internet was fueling the performative aspect of the art market, with collectors sharing their recent acquisitions on Instagram, artists creating jpegs of unrealized works, and all of the social interaction in between,” the show’s curator, Lindsay Howard, tells The Creators Project. “I wanted to explore that, as well as this more universal, compulsive need to share and consume online. How are these behaviors affecting us on a social, psychological, and even physical level?”
With a range of mediums including video, painting, sculpture, and photography, the works in the show address our need for immediate gratification in highly disparate ways. One of the works with this most clearly in mind is Ry David Bradley's WATCH ME (22-2-2016 12-03-24). Consisting of an unfixed dye-transfer print screenshot from live-streaming app Periscope, the viewer is encouraged to alter the piece with three brushes available beneath it. This allows the viewer the prosumer gratification of producing and consuming at the same time.
New Now 4 is Jonas Lund's contribution to the show. The UV-print-on-Plexiglas piece is the result of a neural network trained with Lund’s past works and aimed at creating an "optimized" piece in line with his artistic tendencies. Although the outputted piece looks very different from Lund’s oeuvre, the idea of optimized software eventually being able to successfully imitate an artist’s conceptual impulse is a harrowing suggestion.
Petra Cortright's marled_clay_cheese is a 2-hour looped video consisting of digitized dancers performing in front of a green screen. Sourced from Virtual Girl software, which places virtual dancing girls on your computer desktop, the piece brings into question where our online consumption is sourced from and how the internet is often built on the re-contextualization of unassuming content.
Still Alive No.1 and Still Alive No. 3 are two photographs created by artist Addie Wagenknecht in collaboration with photographer Aiala Hernando. Through central floral arrangements in the compositions, the images are reminiscent of traditional still lifes. That is, until you notice the looming objects of consumption in the shadows, ranging from prescription pills to sprinkled donuts to the ever-trendy cold-pressed green juice. Ultimately, these works are a reminder that our desire for immediate gratification extends outside of digital contexts, and back to our physical realities.
Accompanying the IRL exhibition is a website designed by HAWRAF INTL., which follows the same thematic principles guiding the show. The website is a form of art-world social network, consisting of a series of posts showing works from the show and other related content embedded with interactive abilities. You can "like" and comment on posts, like most other social networks, but you can also like someone else’s like, comment on the liking of someone else’s like, and further like-ceptions.
The disturbing reality of our incessant need to be noticed and receive notifications has perhaps never been highlighted with such glaring accuracy.
View the aforementioned works of Temporary High, as well as pieces by Katherine Frazer, Anouk Kruithof, Hannah Perry, Pascual Sisto, Britta Walsworth, and Wendy White until July 31st at bitforms gallery.