What do we go onto the Internet to experience? As televisions and computers have found their way into the privacy of our living rooms, and smart phones are now our constant companions, how these devices virtually restructure our personal, emotional and psychic lives has become an urgent question. The mediation of everyday life through technological advancements is not new. Scholars as well as artists have long interrogated the increasing speed of life and perceived fragmentation of a selfhood that have accompanied these developments. Welcome to Screenland considers the personal dimensions of life plugged in, and the impact that the taken-for-granted structure of Internet programs and video games has on virtual expressions of identity, connection, memory and love.
Using the familiar aesthetics and interfaces of the Internet and video-game user, the artists featured in the exhibition look closely at the ways people disclose and express identity, connection, intimacy, memory and desire online. Artist Frances Stark presents personal confessions mediated through chat rooms to reveal the power of dialogue in creating meaningful connections despite sexual, geographic and socioeconomic distances. Jon Rafman’s ruminations on memory and emotion for the virtual world explorer narrate a cinematic journey through the post-action, video game landscape. These individual examinations convey the consequences and significance of virtual presence and escape.
Key to the selected works are their respective engagements with the vernacular of the Internet, using the language and appearance of user-generated content, working with or referencing online structures found in games, video diaries and blogs. These interventions ask us to consider what lies behind such virtual structures, and how it may influence the ways we understand ourselves.
This exhibition features the works of Jennifer Chan, Freya Bjorg Olafson, Jon Rafman, Frances Stark, Angie Waller and Matthew Williamson.
Welcome to Screenland is curated by Carolyn Jervis, a Master’s candidate in the Critical and Curatorial Studies program at the University of British Columbia.
This exhibition is made possible with support from the Michael O’Brian Family Foundation, the Killy Foundation, and the Audain Endowment for Curatorial Studies through the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory in collaboration with the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at the University of British Columbia, and Satellite Gallery. Research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
Jennifer Chan, *A Total Jizzfest* (video still), 2012, digital video