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After eight years of buoyancy, our country has begun its descent. A trickle-down bully is now America’s president-elect, millions of doves are crying, and there are not enough DeLoreans to transport us all back to the future. Rewind to 2006, when Dubya’s second term was nearing its end and Facebook ceased discriminating against those without student loan debt.
In August of that year, Nasty Nets was established. A bloggish community, formed in part and engineered by the artist Guthrie Lonergan, this group coined the term “surf club” and helped inspire a new digital hive mind approach to art-making. Despite currently navigating a Post-Internet scene, Lonergan has maintained his status as an OG webcrawler.
In 2006, the title of his debut solo show at Honor Fraser, Lonergan displays a dozen video collages and GIFs from this era on wall-hung Dell desktop monitors. Babies’ first steps (2005) is a straightforward collection of moving Hallmark moments. With Myspace Intro Playlist (2006), the artist calibrates the socialized spectrum from awkwardness to confidence and hints at the contrasts in individualized behavior on-screen versus off-screen. Perhaps most profoundly, Lonergan produces a generic montage of diverse artisans smiling, post-act-of-labor, with a Getty Images watermark covering each of them in Artist Looking at Camera (2006).
This assortment of now-archived works simultaneously elucidates the endearing potential of creation, while also revealing the cynical and cyclical co-opting of generative output by corporations and fringe groups alike. The artist ponders for us the dwindling possibility of pleasure without the omnipresent interference of brand ambassadors, tech pimps, forum thugs, or meme therapists. Now that Lonergan has more than wet his feet in this white cube world, it will be curious to see how he rides the impending anti-cultural tsunami.
Guthrie Lonergan: 2006 runs November 5–December 16, 2016 at Honor Fraser (2622 S La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90034)