Electronic Superhighway (2016-1966) at Whitechapel Gallery
The age of the Internet is here. There is no turning back. It has affected virtually every area of society and now the Whitechapel Gallery has a new exhibition that charts its influence on the world of art and wider society.
Starting in skewed chronological order, the display begins by representing the year 2016 and working its way backwards to 1966. Walking into the first room, a multitude of sounds can be detected from various pieces of art. A woman telling people to not take liquids on board the plane is the first source of noise that comes into view, along with a giant screen that shows a 15-minute-long film of a man running through a strange technological dystopia. This engaging feast for the senses is highly effective in introducing the idea of the Internet in art.
Very quickly, the exhibition becomes hard-hitting with presumptions about the Internet being challenged unflinchingly. A set of works pull at the seamless nature that the Internet seems to have as they stress the false reality that can be painted through this far-reaching medium. Amalia Ulman’s Excellences & Perfections show how very little can be taken at face value, with her use of Instagram to highlight the seedy aspect of trolls and the confusing world of fandom.
Whilst some of the benefits of the Internet are discussed, one does not get a balanced view from the exhibition; far more effort is given to highlight the dangerous or outrageous sections of the Internet, whilst the many benefits seem to be neglected. As such, the exhibition leaves a depressive feeling, as inevitably many visitors will check their phones using the free WIFI that the gallery offers and then get an immediate sense of guilt as they question what it is exactly that they have learnt and what they should do next.
Photos: Daniel Donovan
Electronic Superhighway (2016-1966) is at Whitechapel Gallery from 29th January until 15th May 2016, for further information visit here.
Watch a video about the exhibition here: