January 27, 2016  —  by

Electronic Superhighway

credit: whitechapel gallery

This friday a landmark exhibition that brings together over 100 artworks opens at Whitechapel Gallery to show the impact of computer and Internet technologies on artists from the mid-1960s to the present day.

New and rarely seen multimedia works, together with film, painting, sculpture, photography and drawing  by over 70 artists feature, including works by Cory Arcangel, Roy Ascott, Jeremy Bailey, Judith Barry, James Bridle, Douglas Coupland, Constant Dullaart, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Vera Molnar, Albert Oehlen, Trevor Paglen, Nam June Paik, Jon Rafman, Hito Steyerl, Ryan Trecartin, Amalia Ulman and Ulla Wiggen. The exhibition begins with works made between 2000 – 2016, and ends with Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T), an iconic, artistic moment that took place in 1966.

As the exhibition illustrates, the Internet has provided material for different generations of artists. The birth of the World Wide Web in 1989 provided a breeding ground for early user-based net art, with innovators such as Moscow-born Olia Lialina adopting the Internet as a medium. The dot-com boom, from the late 1990s to early millennium, is examined through work from international artists and collectives such as The Yes Men who combined art and online activism in response to the rapid commercialisation of the web. 

The emergence of net art is explored through a curated selection of interactive browser-based works from the Rhizome archive, a leading digital arts organisation founded online in 1996 by artist Mark Tribe, and affiliated with the New Museum in New York since 2003. In 1999, Rhizome created a collection of born-digital artworks which has grown to include over 2000 and in recent years, it has developed a preservation programme around this archive.