‘I Was Raised on the Internet’: art of the new millennium at MCA Chicago

Jeremy Bailey, “Nail Art Museum,” 2014. (AFP/Pari Nadimi Gallery pic)

CHICAGO: How has the internet changed the way we experience the world? That is the question a new exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art MCA Chicago sets out to answer, through varied artworks that highlight shifts in art and interaction since the start of the millennium.

“I Was Raised on the Internet” will feature nearly 100 artworks, all of them interactive, spanning from 1998 to the present and covering the fields of photography, painting, sculpture, film and video, as well as emerging technologies and virtual reality. Together, they will be used to examine the influence of gaming, entertainment, social media and smartphones on everyday life.

The show will focus on a generation of both artists and viewers who have come to speak the “unique vocabulary” of the new millennium, and visitors to the exhibition will become active in it, engaging in new technologies and participating with the works — both those in the galleries and digital works found online.

Among highlights of the show — which will include artists working in new media such as Oculus Rift and platforms such as Facebook and Snapchat — will be Amalia Ullman’s fourth-month Instagram project “Excellences & Perfections,” a series of photographs examining social media’s influence on attitudes toward the female body; an immersive, matrix-like space by Hito Steyerl called “Factory of the Sun”; and a sculpture and video installation by Simon Denny that critiques the politics of cryptocurrencies.

A number of works have also been commissioned specially for the event, including a film by Christopher Kulendran Thomas about the electric car company Tesla, a start-up accelerator by Jeremy Bailey whose results will be seen in a “demo day” event featuring the participating artists pitching their ideas, and a new video game for the exhibition’s online platform by Porpentine Charity Heartscape.

“I Was Raised on the Internet” runs from June 23 to October 14. A number of concurrent events are planned, including a late-night dance party celebrating footwork, a Chicago art form that gained global fame though online sharing platforms. For that event, the museum is accepting submissions of original GIFs that will feature on an internet café video wall.