By MIA TAPER
In a computer-generated 3D universe, electronic music pulses as samples of computer beeps and boops are sprinkled in. A golden, star-laden phrase “LET THE MACHINE LIVE YOUR FANTASY” bounces about as crudely animated women jerk their bodies in a circle. An enormous beige male head protrudes from the circle’s center. Soon, the head melts into the navy ground. The scene is a part of artist Rx’s music video for the song “Bumble.” For some the video may seem strange, but to others it’s part of an art trend called Post-Internet.
While the definition is still a hot debate in the art scene, Post-Internet is the infusing of captured photographs, animation, video, sounds from the World Wide Web together to create something new. Others create the art on their own first, like recording their own videos or drawing their own animation, then they’ll bring in various internet memes or clip arts.
Artist Marisa Olson first coined the phrase “Post-Internet” around 2006 to describe her art. In an interview with TimeOut New York, Olson described Post-Internet as “the yield of my compulsive surfing and downloading.” I create [art] directly derived from materials on the Internet,” she defines. Post-Internet artist Rafael Rozendaal doesn’t like the word “post” to describe the art trend. “It usually refers to artists who are ‘internet aware,’” he writes on his website. “[They] make art inspired by their world wide web impressions.”
Because the art form is so Internet-centric, it shouldn’t be surprising that millennials are at the forefront of the trend, both as creators and as spectators. “I mean we’re the first generation to live completely along side [sic] the internet,” says 21-year-old NYU senior Colin Marchon. “It’s only natural that we address it in art.” Enthusiast Nicolas Cadena, 21, says that Post-Internet is wildly popular amongst millennials because of it’s medium. “It’s art basing itself on an accessible platform for the young,” he quips. “Which is what the development of art is all about, right? Youth accessibility to better reflect the current age.”
Digital artist and internet persona, Molly Soda, 25, uses elements of Post-Internet art in her work, though she doesn’t agree with the use of “post” in the phrase. Based in Detroit, Soda creates videos, gifs, websites, and “anything that is not tangible,” while focusing on how women interact with the web. When creating her art, she uses Google and Tumblr, Photoshop and Final Cut for editing photos and videos, and Dreamweaver and NewHive for making her websites. Soda’s global fanbase reaches about 30,000 followers on Tumblr, 17,000 followers on Twitter, and over 3,000 likes on her Facebook page. She says that her fans are mostly girls ranging in in age from 13-26. Her popularity has brought her art into galleries and exhibitions. Soda even sold one of her digital art pieces at Phillips Auction for $1,300.
Post-Internet art has become accepted enough to warrant exhibitions. Art critic and independent curators Karen Archey and Robin Peckham co-curated a Post-Internet exhibition titled Art Post-Internet in Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art this year. The exhibition included the works of almost 40 artists, including Post-Internet coiner Marisa Olson. Artist Rafael Rozendaal has often sold his web art and website domains to art collectors. While his work is sold for thousands of dollars at places like Phillips Auction, the collectors aren’t purchasing a tangible piece of work, just the ownership of a domain. His websites, like ifnoyes.com, are often amazingly colorful gradient landscapes that respond to the stimuli of a mouse.
The Post-Internet art trend is a growing one. “Post” or not, it’s here to stay. In the future, Soda predicts that it’ll get even crazier and wilder as Generations Y and Z grow up. It’ll only be a matter of time before women jerking their bodies around a melting head become a norm in our culture.