[The art happens here]
Annka Kultys is delighted to announce the launch of [The art happens here], an online platform dedicated to the showcasing of digital art in its natural habitat, so to speak.
The creation of [The art happens here] provides a natural extension to the gallery’s offline programme which has as one of its strengths the presentation of “digital natives” or artists making art that engages with technology and the internet.
While the gallery has established a reputation for bringing through internet artists, including Molly Soda and Signe Pierce, both of whose oeuvres exist largely online, such art has presented a challenge when trying to bring the artists’ digital concepts offline and, for example, find ways to translate their Tumbler or Instagram projects into the physical space of the gallery. Presentation of online works via laptops, iPads, iPhones or projectors onto the gallery walls offer solutions for galleries to meet that challenge, yet there remains the doubt, not unlike the presentation of wild animals in a zoo, that the works are being taken from the environment in which they were created and naturally exist.
Annka Kultys, the gallery’s founder and principal, explains: “I have always wanted to create an online platform, ever since the gallery opened in 2015. From the gallery’s launch, however, it was quick to enter the traditional gallery cycle of installation, exhibition and then taking down and moving on to the next show, such that the idea of the online platform remained undeveloped in a pile of future projects. However, after a week into the coronavirus lockdown in the UK, I realised I had a wonderful opportunity to fulfil this longstanding ambition. During that unprecedented week, the focus for me became less about how to translate online projects into the gallery’s physical space, and more on critically reflecting the web-based media and politics of online art display and distribution.”
[The art happens here] is an important development in the gallery’s evolution, one that not insignificantly mirrors the evolution of artists’ practices and indeed art itself. More specifically, when internet art emerged in the nineties it did not do so in a vacuum but rather with, and complementary to, and embedded in more traditional mediums. The pioneering British net-artist Heath Bunting (whose work includes exploring the porosity of borders, both in physical space and online) is an exemplar of an early internet artist working across both the real and virtual spaces. The academic Caitlin Jones recognises the multiplicity of platforms internet artists have enjoyed, noting: “While this tendency arose with so called second generation of internet artists, internet art from its beginnings has always been multi-platformed.”
And of course not all of the gallery’s artists work exclusively online. Stine Deja, for example, explores 3-D animations, hybrid digital sculpture and installations, while Aaron Scheer uses the computer and iPhone to produce his abstract compositions, which for final presentation are translated into small and large-scale pigment prints. Marc Lee experiments with information and communication technologies to create interactive installations and !Mediengrouppe Bitnik work on and with the internet from the purely digital to the transformation of physical spaces. While these varied practices straddle both the real and virtual art spaces, each will benefit from being able to exhibit their digital works over a digital platform.
[The art happens here] will not, however, simply present art from the gallery’s roster of represented artists. Instead its aim is much broader, featuring and focusing on the online projects of any artist interested in the internet as place of production and distribution.
The platform’s name, [The art happens here], is inspired by the iconic schematic illustration Simple Net Art Diagram (1997) by the artistic duo MTAA, which shows two computer terminals connected by a line and red lightning bolt with a speech bubble pointing to the cable saying “The art happens here.” Since its publication in the late nineties, Simple Net Art Diagram has functioned as a kind of net art meme, remade by other artists to reflect differing conceptions of net art, interpretations that range from it ‘happens’ and therefore can be thought of as an action or a performance to that it is defined by in-betweenness to the suggestion that internet art lies not in a computer but in the ethereal space that connects humans and machines.
In establishing [The art happens here] the gallery joins an ever growing roster of online platforms including Artsy (the online platform for discovering, buying and selling fine art), Rhizome’s ArtBase (an archive of digital art freely accessible to the public online) and David Zwirner Online Viewing Rooms (the international art gallery’s online sales platform), as well as a multitude of independent platforms, that in themselves have become a valued resource for many curators and collectors not previously interested in the internet as place of distribution.