Electronic Superhighway

Last week, we got the opportunity to visit the Whitechapel Gallery who are currently staging an eclectic exhibition called ‘Electronic Superhighway’. This exhibition  aims to document and highlight the impact of computer and Internet technologies on artists from the mid-1960s to the present day. Below is a collection of images I took from the visit:

What soon became apparent to me was the overwhelming number of screens and digital artwork, which in turn raises the question: are we too digital? One of the pieces that particularly stood out for me was a video by Ryan Trecartin called “A Family Finds Entertainment” which was a bizarre video montage which aimed to “reflect on cultural references of a generation that has been affected by the consumption of mass-media”. In this film he explores the ideas of costume, gender fluidity and queerness in a way that is somewhat uncomfortably ‘trippy’ to the viewer. I overheard one of the gallery invigilators explaining to a visitor that this piece has a somewhat ‘marmite effect’ on viewers – some people get it and love it, and others leave feeling confused and hate it.

Throughout the exhibition, central themes appeared to revolve around gender and queerness; whether this was deliberate or accidental, I do not know. Perhaps it could be connected to the fact that the past 50 years have really been the most liberal in terms of what is accepted as cultural normality. It is interesting to see how advanced some of the ideas portrayed in the exhibition were for their time, which plays into an idea that we have been discussing in class – future forecasting.

We were asked to pay attention to how the exhibition had been curated and to make note of the way finding techniques employed within the space. The pieces seemed to have been curated non-chronologically and seemed to lack any specific themed zones; I would be interested to find out from the curator why they chose to do this, and what effect they had tried to achieve.

Overall, I would say that this exhibition is well worth a visit – with such variety and interactivity I’d say that there is something for everyone here.

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