Is there an artistic movement going at this moment? Mapping out artistic movements (what and who influenced what and whom) has always been a practice of looking back at art history and situating artists amongst each other and picking overarching themes.
I believe there is a recurring practice within contemporary art and that is what I want to coin as the Surrealistic Moving Image. There are probably multiple branches to image but I want to name two. The first is a funny stimulation of the senses like Laure Prouvost‘s work. Weird combinations of sound, film, and music to create a bizarre environment to experience art. The second is a dystopian narrative in which the artist presents the way the society is heading. The artists use surreal metaphors to touch upon political issues. Perhaps an approach that is too direct or too clear is directly offensive and prevents visitors from keeping an open mind. This could be the reason why Nathaniel Mellors choose to pick this way of mirroring society. He’s like a comedian, using dark humor to reflect on a society.
They are not the only artists who create moving images that are so absurd, it’s hilarious but also unsettling. At Art in General, a nonprofit organization based in DUMBO, a Zach Blas exhibition is currently on view. When entering his Contra-Internet exhibition, I was surprised that I entered a dark room. On my right, there was a big ass screen on which Jubilee 2033 was projected. By feel, I located a bench and watched the movie in which everything has fallen apart.You name it, burning houses, riots, litter in the streets, burning corpses. The Internet is indistinguishable from the reality of the world. But in the movie, some of the characters are animated, some look real. It’s genderless or intersex and stereotypical science fiction. Star wars like backgrounds, and colors, typical moving shiny globes. The surreal part is when one of the intersex characters with a starts to boner while spraying a purple fluid around.
It would hit a nerve for anyone who is afraid of internet’s power in the future. As the press release explains, it’s a “queer science fiction film, which presents a futuristic, genderless society rising from the ruins of a post-apocalyptic Silicon Valley.” A hopeful solution is offered, an opponent rises up led by artificial intelligence prophet Nootropix which teaches history, art, and counter-infrastructure.
Like Mellors, he presents the end stop of where the society is heading. It’s dystopian thinking indeed, however, it is possible that this is where it’s going to. It’s not only the lobby of big corporations that influence politics and thereby our lives. The power structure of these filthy rich companies now have the internet is a direct means to influence our lives. It’s an instrument of surveillance and accelerates capitalism and consumerism.
This artwork is incredible in stimulating the urgent need to question the internet’s future. It’s much needed for society to think critically about where the reach of the internet is heading and what measures should be taken.
Zach Blas: Contra-Internet is on view until April 21st. For more information click here.