The emergence of internet galleries has not only cultivated and enriched a new generation of artists working primarily with new technologies, but has created a viral platform to present internet art in a legitimate and competent manner.
The post-medium and post-studio conditions of artists involved in online curatorial projects speak of their positive non-committal nature. That is, not one that i have spoken to is focused on one task (i.e. to be "a painter"). Instead, they view their work and their roles to be quite interchangeable at any given time.
This schizophrenia of the cybernetic epoch has bred an array of different curatorial styles. Blog and club style curating is a compression method, making art viral and heavily temporal. Through repetitive posting, meme-ing and loss of context the work becomes stoic, anonymous and already-existing (whether it was or wasn't) - the work of web ghosts. Popular Web 2.0 has embraced this style with Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook. The white cube mimicry of some online galleries is similar to curating in a physical location. It raises issues of simulation and creates a strong real vs. virtual duality. This dichotomy is of less interest for us as we traverse the bridges, webs and holes of the internet.
JstChillin, an online curatorial project headed by myself (Caitlin Denny) and Parker Koo Ito, is interested in the internet's temporal nature - we strive to sustain this temporality by emphasizing the present in all of our exhibitions.
The concept of JstChillin began in May 2009 while applying for the Rhizome Commission Program. Though we didn't receive the grant, we did form our project from the proposal and have been given the chance to collaborate with some of our favorite contemporary artists as a result of it. Communication with our artists exists both physically (with Bay Area artists Zach Shipko, Mitch Trale and Nick De Marco) as well as immaterially through various internet chat applications (Jon Rafman in Canada, Tolga Taluy in France and Duncan Malashock in Texas).
The title for the project encapsulates the attitude of the times. To "jst chill" is not only a popular youth culture slang term but also a strangely ephemeral phrase tagged in thousands of MySpace and Facebook images.
Notably a way to hang out or a way to do nothing much at all, we have taken it to mean a way to just "be", living in a constant state of multiplicities, a flow of existence between web and physicality. The digital world is confronted with the ideal world as being purely virtual; iframes, actionscripts and css keep our lives manageable. However, JstChillin looks beyond that, beyond the simple gratification of day to day living on the internet, beyond the dream of possible experiences, beyond the endless link. We seek to create a condition of actuality and experience through our online exhibitions. JstChillin is based on this idea that the concept is identical to the object.
Our current exhibition, Serial Chillers In Paradise, is a year long project. Every two weeks a new artist takes over our website with an installation that is made specifically for JstChillin.org, then archived after their exhibition. The accessibility to all of our exhibitions at any given time is an advantageous condition of being online that breaks the traditions of the exclusivity of museums and galleries. We don't think that a curatorial practice such as ours has any type of nature; it exists as an evolving mode of thought just like the vast albeit brief existence of internet art trends. We've already come and gone through the "everyone is an artist" phase with the prosumer additions to YouTube and the nostalgic reemergence of Geocities and are now knee deep in the "everyone is a curator" era [i am what i link to]. Surfing the internet is an active editing process that many net artists adopt as part of their art practice and share real time with their peers. Our last show, Stop Internet Time by Ryder Ripps and Jacob Broms Engblom is a great example of how we wish to integrate actualized experience with the eternal screen. The work completely envelopes your physical environment (folding your actions and melting your body) if you let yourself have a moment with the screen. We consider each exhibition an unlimited task that has no end, but perhaps a good stopping point. Our digital nature allows more financial and thus creative freedom than an object based practice. We see this as an opportunity to explore new situations in making and curating such as "mockup" art - installations placed in real environments digitally.
Online galleries are being met with great enthusiasm in the post-digital world we are entering. A new realm of art discourse has developed because of new media and internet art, much of it linked to the confusion between this new art and the already established art market. Larger art institutions and museums are and have been supporting the development of internet based artwork such as the Whitney's ArtPort archive, the Berkeley Art Museum's NetArt gallery and the New Museum's affiliation with Rhizome, quite possibly the most important center for new media artwork.
This is an exciting time for JstChillin - we have planned a performance event focused on the body and new technologies, the online exhibition Serial Chillers In Paradise culminating in a physical exhibition, and a big business deal on the horizon that's top secret! These projects exemplify our wish to translate the immateriality of the internet into temporary events, singular talks, virtual parties, holographic raves and more. Rather than a movement, we consider our work to be part of a lifestyle similar to the Young British Artists - interested in the artist as curator, use of materials which are quite ephemeral and most importantly, living wildly on the internet as culture hackers. Thus, we are currently looking for "Our Saatchi". Rubbell? Gagosian? Dakis Joannou? Let us know if you're interested.
--Caitlin Denny, artist and curator living in San Francisco
(All images © their rightful owners. Ryder Ripps and Jacob Broms Engblom, Stop Internet Time; Jon Rafman, The Loneliness of an Arcade Hustler; Caitlin Denny and Parker Ito are JstChillin.)