The Internet Made me Hardcore

by Alexander M. Wolff


In the polemical essay “Digital Divide,” published by Artforum in September 2012, art critic and professor Claire Bishop posed the question, “Whatever happened to digital art?” She states, “While many artists use digital technology, how many really confront the question of what it means to think, see, and filter affect through the digital?” In a subsequent response to critics, Bishop criticizes the field of new media art, claiming it also misses that point when it fixates “on the centrality of digital technology, rather than confronting it as a repertoire of practices … that increasingly lodges capitalism in the body.”

When thinking about what truly has happened to “digital art” since the 1990s, it becomes clear that much of new media art is not merely technology for the sake of technology, and much of it has confronted our dependence on consumer technology. While countless Internet-based artists today are more than willing to cynically critique the hollowness of how we think, speak, and process our lives through commodified digital technology, very few are willing to hold convictions and create true confrontation, disruption, or politically-charged tensions between their work and oppressive power structures in society. In contrast to current trends in new media art, the politically engaged Internet-based work of 1990s artist collectives and the contemporary Angolan new media artist Nastio Mosquito show that creating a pressure between art, aesthetics, technology, society and politics is a project that needs to be resuscitated. [...]