New York-based Carla Gannis’ reputation as an dynamic force in international New Media art was sealed with her 2014 piece The Garden of Emoji Delights. It is one of the few pieces of work of this kind that has has universal appeal beyond the rarefied borders of the Net Art scene. Gannis embraces all of the familiar themes of the discipline, but also avoids its many tired aesthetic clichés. She produces work that is instantly recognizable as her own—the mark of a truly special artist.
Gannis’ new solo show A Subject Self-Defined is based upon her still series entitled The Selfie Drawings from 2015. It opens at New York’s Transfer Gallery this week. The show consists of several “large-format looped moving images” exploring the significance of the “selfie” and the fact that we currently “find art in an age of networked identity and digital dematerialization.” Tellingly, the title of the show comes from a Joseph Kosuth 1966 neon sculpture.
Selfies involve a kind of online performance, where we act out our lives through a device, and, more importantly, where we are in control of framing how we want to be perceived. This agency is key and very potent when we think about the context in which we are making and sharing these selfies. We’re projecting ourselves, our faces, across networks at a time when climate change could, in a near future, eradicate our “collective human face” from the planet; when artificial intelligence and machine development threatens to replace us as the most intelligent life forms on Earth; when an ever increasing global population obscures the meaningfulness of a single human life.
However, she doesn’t think this is entirely negative and believe that selfies “express a lot more about us than ubiquitous cultural narcissism.” Gannis believes they help us “lay claim to our lives” and identities in a similar way that “40,000 years ago we felt a necessity to imprint our hands on cave walls.”
The opening reception of A Subject Self-Defined at Transfer Gallery is happening this Saturday, January 30, and the show runs until March 12. Gannis generously made this series of GIFs, based on the work in the show, exclusively for ArtSlant.