In 1970 Jack Burnham curated the exhibition Software: Information Technology; Its New Meaning for Art at the Jewish Museum in New York. Burnham was interested in cybernetics, communication theory and the concept of open systems, and in correlation to this many of the works he included also featured an aspect of audience participation. Skipping to the socially engaged trends of the ‘90s, artists happily reclaimed the open systems and participation of the 1960s and 1970s, yet often confined their projects to the art world and rarely utilised the burgeoning communication technologies that were integral to the increasingly networked social and economic milieu. Instead, these artists embraced the low-tech and stressed the performative.
The exhibition Social Interface seeks to explore this imbalance and brings together three projects that activate and reflect the interrelationships between communication and technology. Douglas Bagnall’s ‘Music Industry Simulator’ was first conceived nearly 10 years ago through a digital artist residency at the University of Waikato and emulates the fickle economic underbelly of the music industry. For ‘Ghosts in the Form of Gifts’ (2009), Bronwyn Holloway-Smith created Open Source files and objects that are replicas of artifacts imagined as lost from the Museum of New Zealand, making them available under a Creative Commons license. Taking other patterns and forms that have communal ownership, ‘Typeface’ (2012) is a collaborative work by Vaimaila Urale and Johann Nortje that animates digital versions of Polynesian mark making in response to physical audience interaction.
Each of these projects incorporates technology as a fundamental aspect of contemporary communication, revealing its centrality to our sociopolitical structures.
You can read a review on Eyecontact about this show.