August 21, 2020

Conflict in My Outlook_We Met Online

The University of Queensland Art Museum

Daniel McKewen and Anonymous, chat with anon (production still from The 'ideo-log' Project), 2020. Found iPhone, digital images and videos, dimensions various. Courtesy the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane.

Xanthe Dobbie, Harriet, 2018. From the series "Wallpaper Queens," digital collage and BuzzFeed quiz, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist.

Zach Blas and Jemima Wyman, Im here to learn so :)))))), 2017. 4-channel video, colour, sound, 27:32 minutes. Courtesy of the artists and Milani Gallery, Brisbane.

Jake Appelbaum, Allegra Searle-Lebel, Melissa E. Logan (Chicks on Speed), Jeremie Zimmermann, Drone Hits, Vol.1 (video still)2015. Made with Datalove and Software Libre, 4:11 minutes. Courtesy of the artists.

Elisa Giardina Papa, Technologies of Care (video still), 2016. Courtesy of the artist.

Artists: Zach Blas, Natalie Bookchin, Chicks on Speed, Xanthe Dobbie, Sean Dockray, Kate Geck, Elisa Giardina Papa, Matthew Griffin, Kenneth Macqueen, Daniel McKewen, Zach Blas & Jemima Wyman.

Curated by Anna Briers and featuring Australian and international artists, Conflict in My Outlook is a major UQ Art Museum group exhibition that foregrounds the Internet as a source of both human connection and societal division, a purveyor of fake news, post-truth politics and an apparatus of surveillance.

Since COVID-19 "lockdowns" and social isolation measures, the erosion between our online and offline lives has never been more acute. Conflict in My Outlook is a timely examination of the dynamics of power and control embedded into our everyday technological devices that asks:

"What will become of our privacy in the context of data mining, Artificial Intelligence and weapons-grade surveillance capitalism? Are data rights human rights? Is there an alternative network?"

Across a series of new commissions and recent projects, artists harness the Internet and its materiality to consider our networked, technological age. They co-opt and remix user-generated content sourced from video blogs and social media platforms. They employ code and online platforms to make interactive quizzes and sensory, immersive websites.

Conflict in My Outlook is a phrase lifted from the ubiquitous software program Microsoft Office. Derived from an error message related to a scheduling clash, it alludes to a glitch or failure to connect on the network. The exhibition title refers to the sense of cognitive dissonance that underpins our relationships with new, networked technologies, and the deeply polarising realities they reproduce in our heavily mediated lives – between online and offline, public and private, social connection and isolation, information and misinformation, privacy and surveillance, human and machine, and so on.

Exclusively online format
While Conflict in My Outlook was conceived before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, as the exhibition is of and about the Internet, Curator Anna Briers said it made both material and conceptual sense to move it online and offered a curatorial challenge to move nimbly in response to the unfolding pandemic.

The dynamic online platform will also feature short ‘provocations’ in the form of newly commissioned texts, as well as a program of talks and panel discussions.

Rolling throughout the exhibition, sets of research questions imbedded in the exhibition will be explored across the following chapters:

Utopia to Dystopia—Failed Metaphors and Invisible Power Structures
–Digital Intimacy—The Public Private
–Disinformation Architects—Fake News and the Weaponisation of Social Media
–All Data to the People!—Surveillance in the Age of the Big Other

“The internet has been described as a cloud, a network, an archive, an information superhighway, a urinal, a supermarket, and a brothel. All are at once fitting and failed analogies. Within our hyper-mediated world we are drowning in an ocean of images, data has been classified as the new oil, and the consequences of our technologically networked existence have surpassed anything that has gone before.

“This exhibition was devised before the pandemic struck, however the relevance of its overarching themes and ideas have never before been more acute. Conflict in My Outlook investigates the way the internet mediates and shapes social relations and ideas, it reveals the erosion of boundaries between online and offline, public and private. It foregrounds the internet as a source of both human connection and societal division, illuminating the precarious nature of reality in an era of fake news, post-truth politics, and echo chambers of disinformation.”

Part two: Conflict in My Outlook_Don't be Evil
A physical exhibition featuring immersive installations that connect with key chapters in the online exhibition will open "in real life" at UQ Art Museum on July 30, 2021.

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