January 2015

Artie Vierkant: Immaterial vs. Material

"Post-Internet Art" and Art History

Recorded at the 2013 Post Digital Cultures conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, artist Artie Vierkant discusses his influential work and theories regarding art production in the post-internet world. Vierkant is known for his essay “The Image Object Post-Internet” in which he makes one of the central claims of post-internet art: in the reality of the present moment, in which immaterial and material objects increasingly find themselves on equal ontological footing, the work of art becomes an “image object”—part material object, part immaterial image. Another way to say this is that the documentation of the work, surviving as a mutable digital photograph dispersed as bytes through the internet, functions as the work at least as much as the physical version of the work. Vierkant sets this up by showing examples of post-internet art by Brad Troemel and Timor Si-Qin in which convincing images in the style of white cube gallery documentation were in fact entirely digitally produced. The effect of these gestures is more conceptual than aesthetic—they end up asking a question about art in the physical realm and how it is distributed to the contemporary art audience. He then goes on to discuss his Image Objects series, which exists as physical objects that were born, so to speak, in the digital, through Photoshop, and then printed out as slick objects before finally being re-versioned back into the digital as images that Vierkant continually alters, thus never allowing the image object to achieve a “final” state. He finishes his talk with a discussion of a more recent project that examines the field of intellectual property and patents and asks similar questions about materiality versus immateriality. Overall, he presents a stance emblematic of the post-internet era, in which art produced in the digital field keeps its eyes trained not on its relationship to the future of art but to its history.

Artie Vierkant received an MFA from the University of California San Diego in 2011 and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2009. He has shown his work internationally, including exhibitions at New Galerie, Paris; Higher Pictures, New York; Exile, Berlin; Institute of Contemporary Art, London; Carlos/Ishikawa, London; China Art Objects, Los Angeles; and in a variety of non-institutional contexts on the internet. His work has been featured in ArtforumUbuWebFriezeRethinking Photography (Routledge), and more. He is represented by New Galerie in Paris, and teaches at New York University. He lives and works in New York.

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