This summer, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago presents the landmark exhibition I Was Raised on the Internet, an immersive and participatory show examining the impact of the internet and how it has changed the way we experience the world. With nearly 100 interactive artworks from 1998 to the present, I Was Raised on the Internet spans photography, painting, sculpture, film and video, as well as emerging technologies, interactive computer works, and virtual reality. I Was Raised on the Internet presents a global range of artists working in new media such as Oculus Rift and platforms like Facebook and Snapchat, looking at culture and 'trending' content and how interacting with the world has shifted through constant exchange on the internet. Organized by Omar Kholeif, MCA Senior Curator and Director of Global Initiatives, I Was Raised on the Internet runs from June 23 to October 14, 2018 and is supported by a lead grant from the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation.
I Was Raised on the Internet examines the influence of gaming and entertainment, as well as social media and smart phones, on everyday life. Taking 1998 as a starting point, the exhibition decodes a generation of artists and viewers who have come to speak a unique vocabulary that has emerged with the new millennium. In addition to the idea of a millennial, the exhibition explores terms such as 'post-internet' and 'post-digital,' used by artists to imply a new, instant culture. Throughout the exhibition, the viewer becomes an active agent, engaging in new forms of technology and participating with the works both in the galleries and the digital works hosted online.
Highlights of the show include a series of photographs from artist Amalia Ulman's four-month Instagram project Excellences & Perfections, examining the influence of social media on attitudes toward the female body; an immersive, glowing matrix-like space by Hito Steyerl called Factory of the Sun; a hub connected to a private network by MacArthur genius grantee Trevor Paglen, called Autonomy Cube, in which visitors can surf the web anonymously; and a sculpture and video installation by Simon Denny that critiques the politics of cyptocurrencies, including bitcoin, and the economics of the internet.
The exhibition also features prominent commissions from some of the most important artists working with art and technology today.
- DIS is a New York-based collective whose commission explores the group's focus on 'edutainment,' such as the popular TED-style video content. The main element is a new film, displayed as an immersive environment of screens.
- Christopher Kulendran Thomas's installation builds on his previous films exploring Microsoft and Amazon. His new commissioned film centers on the electric car company Tesla, featuring both original and appropriated footage.
- Jeremy Bailey's commission takes the form of a start-up accelerator in the model of companies such as Y-Combinator. Bailey selected four Chicago-area artists who each developed a new interactive product, company, or service. He is holding workshops for the artist-participants to realize their projects with a team of mentors drawn from new media arts professionals and tech company leaders for Etsy and Kickstarter. The result takes the form of a 'demo day' event, when each of the participating artists pitch their ideas to a live audience.
- Porpentine Charity Heartscape's commission is a new video game for the exhibition's online platform in the form of a semi-autobiographical journey through her own childhood relationship with the internet.
I Was Raised on the Internet is organized into five sections, each describing a different mode of interaction between the viewer and the art object:
Look at Me explores new, more fluid forms of identity that flourish in a world where social media encourages the continual performance of the self and networking with others. Key artists in this section include Petra Cortright, Douglas Coupland, Andrea Crespo, Juliana Huxtable, Rachel Maclean, Evan Roth, Jacolby Satterwhite, and Amalia Ulman.
Touch Me traces the extent to which it is possible to translate information and digital images into real space. This chapter focuses on art's fluid boundaries between two- and three-dimensions, and addresses the ways individuals are increasingly seeing touch and sensuality as new concepts in the world of the internet. Artists in this section include Ian Cheng, Aleksandra Domanović, John Gerrard, Oliver Laric, Takeshi Murata, Jon Rafman, Elias Sime, and Harm van den Dorpel.
Control Me addresses the pervasive culture of surveillance and data collection that network technology enables. It explores the visual vocabulary for state control, and asks how that control will develop through new technologies. Key artists in this section include Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Thomson and Craighead, Trevor Paglen, and Andrew Norman Wilson.
Play with Me documents the progression toward fully immersive and interactive technologies developing today, where the visitor is an active agent in the work. Key artists in this chapter include Cory Arcangel, Ian Cheng, Simon Denny, Cao Fei, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, Eva and Franco Mattes, Jon Rafman, and Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch.
Sell Me Out focuses on corporate culture and consumerism. Artists expose, critique, and participate in marketing strategies such as brand identity, with a critical eye to the future of buying and selling. Viewers can access each section's works online through an exhibition website. Key artists in this section include Sophia Al-Maria, Anne de Vries, Goldin + Senneby, Joel Holmberg, Katja Novitskova, Sean Raspet, Hito Steyerl, and Christopher Kulendran Thomas.
Extending the exhibition beyond the MCA walls, a microsite-created specifically for the show presents internet-based artworks. This expansion of the exhibition is accessible for all both at the museum and anywhere in the community with an internet connection.
The exhibition is accompanied by a major anthology of essays and critical reflections based on artists working with internet and digital technologies. I Was Raised on the Internet is edited by Omar Kholeif and has critical essays, provocations, and manifestos as well as artist projects based on the new commissions for the exhibition.