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What does the internet look like? A pile of photographs and half formed memes; “just another WordPress site;” so many cats. A particular corner—adjacent to the one defined by Hyperallergic as The Teen Girl Tumblr Aesthetic—looks a lot like the quilts of Erin Jane Nelson. Nelson prints found and original images on cotton which she layers along with charms, pearls, and beading into jumbled compositions that capture the eclectic chaos of a tumblog full of pet pictures and animated gifs.
Two of Nelson’s quilts are included in the video-heavy group exhibition default, currently on view at Honor Fraser. default proposes that pixels, and the software that enables their creation, are the readymades of the 21st century, updating the industrial revolution of Duchamp’s Fountain (1917) to today’s era of digital disruption. Also on view is Trisha Baga’s Competition/Competition (2012), a single-channel video installation which bridges the gap between object and pixel image. The piece combines a meditatively simple animation with an ordinary water bottle to sparkling optical effect. In the same room Victoria Fu’s beguiling Belle Captive II (2013) floats disembodied figures from stock images over rosy gradient dreamscapes.
Contemporary art shows that take the internet as their inspiration often gather together works that possess a particular digital aesthetic, which was dubbed “The New Aesthetic” by Bruce Sterling around 2012. The internet “look” features pixelated imagery, 3D rendering, and other hallmarks of computer generated content. Refreshingly, default’s focus on digital materials as readymades creates an entry point for a far more wide ranging consideration of the ways technology is shaping visual culture than strictly aesthetic shifts. This conversation is particularly important for the art gallery, a site that is predicated on IRL experiences with singular objects.
default runs from April 30–June 11, 2016 at Honor Fraser (2622 S La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90034).