I guess the title kind of gives it away? But you know, you've got to have expectations to be disappointed and here's the problem: when you put together the two words 'online' and 'exhibition' you can imagine wandering through this vast and surprising digital world where new and previously unimagined forms of artistic stimulation are assailing your senses from every quarter; or you can see the two antithetical things, an exhibition being that immersive, fully realised, interactive, texturally correlative space in which things possess both depth and mass, i.e. the real world, and online means sitting at my desk looking at a laptop screen. Not the same thing, so more fool me. In reality I shouldn't get so dramatic about hyperbolic flaws in nomenclature. It's not an exhibition, it's a collection of quite interesting Webpages compiled as an event by one of the major galleries in Paris and I shouldn't complain as after all it does allow for the completion of the entire process of a review to be performed from start to finish in my underpants. Although this type of 'advantage' is often used to sell the web isn't it? And I'm not sure it's such a great thing, laziness that is.
Julian Oliver et Danja Vasiliev, Newstweek, 2011; © Julian Oliver et Danja Vasiliev, Design : Chasin’ Pigeons.
But anyway, the rubric is (and it's such a shame I've already used the word hyperbolic) that:
"This online exhibition proposes to highlight, in a critical, conceptual and experimental way, one of the most important contemporary phenomena: the radical transformation of print media and its impacts on transmission of information and preservation of contents."
Isn't art exciting these days? But that's another matter. It fails in this goal. What we have are eleven websites, all of which are concerned in some way with print and the internet, some are potentially useful as a resource (Monoskop Log or Quick Brown), some are funny (Newstweek, Smell of Books), some are critical and/or interesting (American Psycho and some of the above), some of them prove the efficacy of web advertising strategies by confirming that we are actually lazy (Humanpedia, a project for individuals to memorise a single Wikipedia page and then transmit it to others qua oral tradition. Subscribers… eight); BUT, and this is kind of the point, most of the interesting/successful pages, like some I've mentioned (and DIY Bookscan), point to something interesting that is happening elsewhere, again in that strange real place. Yes they might act as portals whereby you could get interested and involved in something, but that something and all the interesting stuff isn't happening on the page in front of me on my laptop, what is happening here is a succession of Webpages.
Humanpédia; © David Guez.
Which isn't to say it isn't possible to make something that could be called art. Or rather, to generate an art experience via the web, and of all the sites Ten Words + One Text by Gregory Chatonsky is the only one to manage this. It is, whether you like it or not, actually an experience; and for my money it's a bit of a one hit wonder and gets annoying very quickly although it still strangely compelled me to remain on the page for considerably longer than might be healthy.
And this is after all what we're looking for isn't it? Something that might be considered this?
(Image on top: DuroSport Electronics, Smell of Books, 2012; © DuroSport Electronics.)