#isthemessage in Kunstenlab

06/12/2011    Art, Curating, Design 2D, Publications, Web design & development

Social media have made a name for themselves in society. For many, a life without is barely conceivable. How does art relate to social media?

Artists are, as with the introduction of photography and video, first at the scene to explore the (artistic) possibilities of the medium. But also to critically examine and question them. Reason enough for Kunstenlab to ask me as a guest curator for an exhibition on this topic. Not only because I’m an artist, designer, curator and owner of a record label, but also as an early and frequent social media user.

The exhibition ‘#isthemessage’ shows a kaleidoscopic and intriguing image of social media and the phenomena triggered by them. For example, Christopher Baker makes you aware of the nature of tweets in his Murmur Study, Birgit Bachler lets you listen to the Internet and examines an anonymous communication network in physical public with The Discrete Dialogue Network, Philipp Teister made the login of his personal Facebook profile known in his Facebook Life Sharing project and Nicholas Felton (also graphic designer of the new Facebook Timeline) shows very personal infographics in his Annual Reports.

As with other media, it is primarily how, why and by whom social media are used that matters. The exhibition is the result of research into a multitude of different perspectives from which social media can be viewed: e.g. psychology, identity, communication, utopia, altruism, social criticism, corporate business, data mining, marketing, revolution, democratization (of art) and – somewhat obvious – privacy. The exhibition ‘#isthemessage’ opens new ways to experience the power of social media and to ask critical questions about the place these media have in our lives.

Given the particular subject of this exhibition I decided not to fill the entire exhibition to leave room for a social aspect. The public can contribute and participate by mailing directly to the printer that is installed in the exhibition area or be a guest curator of this input by making a personal selection of the prints accumulating on the floor. Of course, participation via Twitter (#isthemessage) and this Facebook wall is also possible.

I created the website hashtagisthemessage.net for this exhibition. Usable as an online version of a catalogue. In the middle column you’ll find an additional selection of works, which can be found online. This website will be updated once more with all added content and data obtained during the exhibition.

The opening of #isthemessage takes place on Sunday 18 December at 16:00 with the participation of De Bubbelebim, an (anti)literary and absurd theater-stage-performance-viduo from Rotterdam. De Bubbelebim appears to have something to say about sociale media as well.