Embracing these hybrid times when we’re often online more than we’re out and about, the Art Gallery of New South Wales has launched the mother of all digital galleries, and it’s a kaleidoscopic trip to creative wonderland.
Part of their ongoing Together in Art series, Hyper-linked assembles seven exciting contemporary Australian artists pushing the envelope on how we engage with art from wherever we are in the world.
Heath Franco’s 'Home Videohome' is a trippy, dystopian stare into the abyss of the interwebs through the search portals of doom. You'll very likely recognise one in particular, but to avoid any nasty lawsuit, it's been rebranded as Newspider. Get caught up in this web full of unnerving animalistic figures and ‘90s-style pop video imagery gone awry. It’s wrong-town in all the right ways.
Justene Williams’ explosively colourful video 'The Unboxers' opens with shades of apocalyptic wrestling matches and a montage with a glimpse of a superhero-like character who resembles someone who rhymes with Maptain Carvel (prob don’t want Disney legalling this either). With creatures that look like sun-melted lollies and a bizarre egg experiment, it’s loopy goodness inspired by the unfurling of the legendary Bob Fosse's jazz hands.
JD Reforma’s dreamy drone imagery in ‘I Want to Believe’ captures stolen glances of the world as seen from Sydney’s rooftops, with the traffic drifting by oblivious below. Exploring the idea of escape from abusive relationships, what at first seems like freedom comes to connote imprisonment, as a cry for help emerges in paint.
You can learn what fate has in store for you courtesy of Kate Mitchell’s ‘The Communication Deck’, a digital tarot reading. Meanwhile, Brian Fuata’s ‘Of a House Besieged (Preposition Tweaked)’ – a ghostly, silhouetted reading in an empty gallery scattered with discarded pages – is spookily good. Matthew Griffin’s ‘Hello Visibility: Darts, Sites, Bricks, Hearts, Roads’ explores the way we use language, asking in a video series if a ‘brick’ phone is really a bad thing?
And while we’re talking about phones, Amrita Hepi’s brilliantly inventive interactive experience ‘Cass’ asks you to engage in a text communication via your phone, answering Y/N to a series of questions.
Senior curator of contemporary Australian art Isobel Parker Philip says the exhibition is an opportunity to reflect on how the internet has infiltrated and transformed our lives.
“Hyper-linked considers the split state of being disconnected and hyper-connected at the same time,” she says. “Many of us have found ourselves confined by the limits of the domestic space, yet we simultaneously broadcast our lives in bite-size chunks over social media. The personas we project through Zoom meetings, Instagram and FaceTime catchups are performative. The artists in this exhibition are examining the role the internet plays in shaping our lives and the ways in which we relate. They bear witness and pay tribute to our networked selves.”
If you weren’t already convinced to explore this genuinely brilliant online art extravaganza, then it also comes with an oddly soothing essay from Philip that’s part explainer, part photographic investigation of the myriad marvels of mushrooms – because who doesn’t think fungi are awesome?
Want more provocative art? Explore queer sensation Friendship as a Way of Life.
This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas