2021 The Artist is Online – König Gallery, Berlin, DE. Curated by Johann König & Anika Meier.
In the König gallery, around 70 works were shown by 50 artists, who are at home on social media. In the media of painting and sculpture, they react to the mechanisms of the attention economy and to technological innovations. They digitize painting, visualize data sets and reflect the mobility of images.
Art critic Isabelle Graw wrote that today’s new found interest in painting – has it ever gone away? – can be explained by internet platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. In her essay The Value of Liveliness Graw notes: “I believe that painting is particularly well positioned in such a society because it gives the impression of being in life of the author.”
After artists have used Instagram to perform over the past ten years, painting now is able to redeem what social media has triggered: the longing for limitless individuality. Which is what it’s all about on the screen: the pursuit of individuality and indulging in consumption accompanied by a greed for attention.
For the generation of artists born around 1990, painting in the post-digital age has become a mashup of art-historical references, most evidently, when the styles of the Old Masters, Surrealism, Pop Art and Post-Internet Art are sampled.
The result is portraits of people, bodies and animals that lose themselves in pathetic poses. Femininity is deconstructed (Sarah Slappey, Rosie Gibbens) and masculinity is over-performed (Pascal Möhlmann, Evgen Copi Gorisek). The cult of self-expression is celebrated (Chris Drange) and consumerism is exhibited (Oli Epp, Travis Fish).
While content-related access to painting in the post-digital age is one possibility, formal access via the integration of technology is another. Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence can all be used to digitalise painting.
Ai-Da is a humanoid robot and an artist who arguably proves that an artificial intelligence can produce a creative achievement. According to her creator, the gallery owner and art dealer Aidan Meller, that means creating works that are new, surprising and have value. She has cameras in her eyes and paints and draws what she sees. Is Ai-Da creative? Is her art good? And is the question of whether her art is good even relevant?
The French artist Ben Elliot meanwhile creates Perfect Paintings generated by software based on data about the most popular contemporary works, while American Gretchen Andrew hacks Google to fulfill her wishes and dreams: a cover story in Artforum, winning the Turner Prize, participating in Art Basel Miami Beach and now an auction record.
Artists such as Manuel Rossner, Banz & Bowinkel, Mario Klingemann, and Andy Picci are among the pioneers in the field of digital art, especially when it comes to exploring the possibilities of using new technologies in the artistic production process of painting and sculpture. What is going to happen to the medium of painting in virtual reality? What are the materials that sculptures are going to be made out of in the future, using computers? In what ways and to what extent can artificial intelligence get creative?
This is why the exhibition has been extended to the digital realm. The german artist Manuel Rossner recreated the brutalist architecture of the former church St. Agnes, designed by Werner Düttmann and Arno Brandlhuber, in a 3d model and placed it in Decentraland. König stands on a piece of virtual land that is rented and is the first commercial gallery to show artworks in Decentraland, a virtual world based on the blockchain. digital art is presented in a genuine environment, and the visitors of Decentraland get to experience art again, which is otherwise only offered for sale on the websites of the NFT marketplaces. what is impossible in real space, becomes possible in digital space. Rossner, for example, exploits the potential of virtual space by drilling a hole through the sidewall of the nave of St. Agnes, placing a sculpture all the way through the whole, and thus providing an alternative entrance all the way up to the church tower.
Artists involved: Trey Abdella, Ai-Da, Olive Allen, Gretchen Andrew, Laturbo Avedon, Daniel Arsham, Banz & Bowinkel, Aram Bartholl, Arno Beck, Lydia Blakeley, Ry David Bradley, Arvida Byström, Damjanski, Stine Deja, Rachel de Joode, Maja Djordjevic, Chris Drange, Johanna Dumet, Hannah Sophie Dunkelberg, Ben Elliot, Oli Epp, Liam Fallon, Travis Fish, Rosie Gibbens, Evgen Copi Gorišek, Cathrin Hoffmann, Rachel De Joode, Andy Kassier, Keiken, Nik Kosmas, Mario Klingemann, Zach Lieberman, Brandon Lipchik, Jonas Lund, Miao Ying, Pascal Möhlmann, Rose Nestler, Andy Picci, Hunter Potter, Grit Richter, Rachel Rossin, Manuel Rossner, David Roth, Kenny Schachter, Aaron Scheer, Pascal Sender, Sarah Slappey, Emma Stern, Fabian Treiber, Theo Triantafyllidis, Anne Vieux, Addie Wagenknecht, Amanda Wall, Fabian Warnsing, Thomas Webb, Jessica Westhafer, Anthony White, Chloe Wise, Hiejin Yoo, John Yuyi, Janka Zöller.
Text: Anika Meier, 2021
Last edited: December 09, 2022
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