The work at extra extra gallery is a grid of uniform full-color print-outs and a video. The work is that of one artist; Brad Troemel. All of the material for the exhibition was chosen and represented entirely by the directors of extra extra gallery, taking Mr. Troemel’s visual art directly from his tmblr. The pillaging of Mr. Troemel’s tumblr was done at the artist’s request, purposely setting us up to consider the fate of artworks on the internet and how that ultimately effects ideas of ownership over artworks in the non-internet.
I find Brad Troemel’s work both humorous and smart, but this review will be more actively engaged in discussing the questions the installation at extra extra sets up then to converse in great detail about the actual artworks. For a more visually stimulating internet experience please visit Jogging.
Wait. Where are we? Or is this the internet?
There is not much difference between the physical show at extra extra and the digital representation of images on Brad Troemel’s tmblr (called Jogging). Both the physical and digital space aspire to the same thing; a clean, white, well-lighted and minimal space in which artworks can be displayed without interference from the bustle of the world around them. If anything, extra extra gallery is a down-grade from Jogging.
Extra extra is a little dark, the white walls don’t extend all the way to the ceiling and I can’t view the images in the one-on-one way I can on the Internet. An image on the Internet has the quality of being formless and endless. It is any size you want it to be–an image looked at in digital space takes up the entire space of your mind, there is no edge, there is nothing but yourself and the screen.
In the material world of extra extra I can’t even see all the images; the grid is a little too high or low and without a scrolling feature I really only bother to look at those images that are at eye-level. Clicking on an image in a gallery does not make it bigger as it would if I were on the Internet. In real life I find myself panicking about remembering all the images, I have to take pictures of the pictures to aid my memory. If I was on the internet I would simply bookmark the page I was on, knowing I could return to it in the future when I might have more time.
Physical space is a pain in the ass. It is easy to maintain that all-controlling whiteness on the Internet, you simply plug in a number and white will always stay white. In the real world you must waste paint on the walls of a space every month. You must waste the paper you print out your images on. You must buy light bulbs and replace them. You must constantly repeat the process of maintenance.
Set up against each other like this I find it is difficult for the material gallery to compete with the viewing experience of digital space.
I wrote Brad an e-mail and asked him about his use of tumblr over other blogging apparatus, he had this to say:
“Tumblr is the most geared towards rapid appropriation of all the blogs. I started using Tumblr because I noticed that the only impetus for someone to reblog something was if they liked it. There were more image-based posts on Tumblr than anything else. By amassing this huge database of other people’s work, people created unique visual indexes. I thought this nicely complimented my own feelings about what originality is and how it exists today. In an interview a year ago I said “I didn’t invent the t-shirt but I don’t go shopping like anyone else.”
The idea that an artwork cannot have an ultimate or single interpretation is nothing new, and for many of us the idea that we can control images has become ridiculous.
Images of the real world are put onto the Internet by users, other users mash these images up and recontextualize them. This has become a means of communication, a way to spread information and to broadcast your individual aesthetic take on the world.
The Internet both gives us control over images and takes it away. You can control what happens on your own website but you cannot control what someone else is doing with the information that you put on your page. Sites like tmblr prove that people are more comfortable with ideas of recontextualization and juxtaposition. These devices have become a standard of communication and an image is but a means to exchange ideas.
Extra Credit Reading:
The Death of the Author by Roland Barthes
Real life–meet the internet, the internet–real life.
The elephant in the room is that it is becoming exceedingly difficult to separate the Internet from real life and the undiscovered country is what success as an artist on the Internet means. Brad does no better to be in a gallery then he does to remain digital–jogging has been reblogged by others many times (rebloggingthejogging , tehjogging , w33d ) and a look at his google analytics page will probably give him the satisfaction of knowing that people view his artwork on a large scale. If you are an artist unconcerned about money the Internet can give you the audience you desire.
More, if exhibitions like this one at extra extra become the standard then I’d rather stay in then visit the physical space. Real life doesn’t need to report on the Internet as I have the Internet to report on itself.
What real life needs to do is find a way to compete with the Internet.
This exhibition was also reviewed by: