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Review: How Has The Internet Changed The Art World?

Electronic Superhighway (2016-1966), Whitechapel Gallery ★★☆☆☆

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 16 months ago
Review: How Has The Internet Changed The Art World? Electronic Superhighway (2016-1966), Whitechapel Gallery 2
Oliver Laric takes the incident of Iran's faked missile launches and airbrushes that moment so it looks even more surreal. Copyright Oliver Laric

Computers and the internet have changed the society we live in. So naturally, it has acted as an inspiration for many artists and this is the focus of Electronic Superhighway at Whitechapel Gallery. The exhibition covers the last 50 years, including everything from holograms back to some of the earliest computers.

One of our favourite works is Amalia Ulman's performance where she created a false and remarkably vapid Instagram avatar. However, most of her tens of thousands of followers lived vicariously through her without realising they were being misled in the name of art. It's a brilliant piece that highlights how voyeuristic and banal social media can be.

We also liked the attempt by an artist to sell his 'blackness' on ebay. A tongue in cheek piece that highlights both the upsides and drawbacks of being an ethnic minority. There are other great contemporary artists on display such as Jon Rafman, Hito Steyerl and Constant Dullaart. However, it's disappointing to see that their works in this exhibition are not their strongest.

There were a few works experiencing technical difficulties; we would have loved it if this was on purpose to highlight the fragility of technology. Alas, they were genuine errors.

As we wandered through the exhibition we realised the show is a bit like the internet itself. Lots of distractions, including nudity and selfies, and yet we found it hard to engage with any single work for a length of time. This is a shame as the impact of technology on art is an important subject matter, but this exhibition lacks the works to land this point.

Electronic Superhighway (2016-1966) is on at Whitechapel Gallery until 15 May. Tickets are £11.95 for adults, concessions available.

A picture of Amalia Ulman's Instagram avatar. Copyright Amalia Ulman.

Last Updated 01 February 2016