Art x Technology: Dorothy Netherland and Your ‘Required Summer Viewing List’
There are certain things in life that we do on a daily basis in which we do without question.
We drive our automatic cars without really considering what’s happening when we step on the gas pedal. We google directions to our favorite restaurant every time because we never really look where we’re driving. And as artist Dorothy Netherland has so acutely pointed out, we interact with social media without considering how it affects our development and relationships with each other.
Being the mother of a teenage girl, Netherland explores matters of gender, identity, transformation, and personal power through large, multimedia collages. Despite her interest in the impact of technology on the development of identity, her work is all manually created. Netherland will use photographs of her daughter and splice them together with images from fashion magazines. The use of the internet has skewed the idea of what’s real versus fake and importance is placed on popularity of digital media and has us relying so heavily on the validation of others (in some cases, people that we don’t even know). This concept of our current culture acting as an influence on her daughter’s development is something that is constantly fueling her work, and is something that, once you’re aware of, is nearly impossible to forget. Her poignant commentary on our interaction with each other on a macro level is one of those things that you don’t know you need to hear until someone says it…
An Art History professor of mine once quoted something that still influences my perception of contemporary art to this day. She said, “you can’t be a true artist unless you’re an artist of your time”. Though this is one of those classic umbrella quotes that is too bold and unrealistic to apply to every situation, I think that it speaks to the importance of creating art that reacts to the culture that it exists within. In turn, art becomes a documentation of what’s deemed to be important to society. You start to see various schools of thought pop up in the form of movements and sub-genres in the arts world. Movements like “internet” and “post-internet.”
We’re in an age of exponential technological growth and connectedness so that’s what artists should be addressing, right? Well, that’s what a lot of the creative contemporaries are doing. It’s becoming increasingly common to see artists utilize digital media, installation, and the world wide web to effectively distribute and present their commentary on how we relate to this rapidly changing world that we’ve created.
There is an infinite amount of platforms that could be used to disseminate an artistic idea. You can share your important (or not so important) parts of your life in 10 second bursts or through images that must have an aspect ratio between 1.91:1 and 4:5. You can post videos to Youtube, project them onto in installation, or even tweet absurd or obscure thoughts in 140 characters or less. We may be in a technological age but, in turn, we’re in what some people refer to as the “throw-away society”. We’re in a fast-paced state of impermanence. Netherland states that we’re in an environment in which hyperbole and performance are the norm, so what can be done to combat this sense of showmanship? I think that it’s important to just be aware of it, and most importantly, just roll with the absurdity. Some people may see this as a negative thing, but a lot of artists are hyper aware of the society that they’re practicing in and are taking advantage of this opportunity to experiment across these new platforms.
For those of you who are long done with school, you probably never thought you’d see another required summer reading list again. As pesky as they were, maybe they were on to something…
Something that Netherland calls attention to is the dying importance and reliability of a first impression. We used to have to strictly rely on facial expressions and body language, but in the 21st century the first impression has been reduced to a curated self. The concept of a stranger has almost become obsolete. This disconnect between reality and virtual reality is a theme that many contemporary artists, Dorothy included, are starting to take notice of.
The following contemporary artists aren’t so concerned with first impressions, so they may seem a little abrasive. But I promise, you’ll warm up to them.
We are proud to present, in no particular order, your 2017 ‘Required Summer Viewing List’:
Focusing on technology and digital media, Rafman creates Dali-esque videos with montages of incredibly strange images and clips with narrations such as “you were awake all night and the only thought in your mind was that to exist is to devour one’s self”. His work focuses on melancholy in modern social interactions and emphasizes the interconnectedness of the audience and society and history.
Ito’s website says it all, really. His work is a conglomeration of physical and digital, spanning from paintings, sculpture, drawings, audio, video, and more, often thrown together into mutli-room installations. Ito has countless styles that he creates in, because to him, the internet should be used to spread ideas as far and wide as possible. He’s pretty unconcerned with maintaining authorship of anything that he makes. He’s a pretty wild guy.
Born in South Korea until relocating to the US for her Masters in Fine Arts, Jiha’s work discusses pop-culture in a multi-cultural manner. Her paintings are overflowing with references to social media and the internet as well as mass produced textiles and other found objects. Her work looks like if a 90’s middle schooler’s trapper keeper was dumped onto a traditional Korean painting and it’s incredible.
“[Phillipson’s] works stake out an ambiguous territory in which cultural references and emotional responses are mutually contingent and reactive”. Like a lot of contemporary artists speaking to these themes, she uses a multitude of media such as sculpture, video, poetry, collages, stills, and drawings to get her message across. This London-based artist will have a sculpture on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in the coming months.
Now, there’s no way that I can have a post in this vein and not mention her. She’s weird. She’s ethereal. She’s surreal. She’s Poppy. Poppy is a teenage pop-star and YouTube personality that is somehow more “woke” than all of us about existing in a technological and social media-ruled world. Her off-putting and hypnotizing videos will make you question everything without you even knowing what happened. Enjoy.