From how we speak to how we play, the internet has changed our way of life. With I Was Raised on the Internet, we’re creating an exhibition that tells the story of the art and artists that are responding to these global social changes that have emerged in tandem with the internet’s rapid growth. To do this we’ve had to think as carefully about the format of the exhibition as we have of the artworks featured in it. This means including everything from in-gallery experiences of immersive installations and interactive technologies to extending the exhibition outside the MCA and, naturally, onto the internet itself.
The online component of I Was Raised on the Internet will feature web-based commissions, a compilation of digital resources for further reading, and a curated selection of online artworks by some of the most innovative artists making work on and about the internet today. This latter section—which will include games, videos, and websites—draws attention to the contradictory nature of the internet: a space that opens up new ways to express identities and connect with communities yet at the same time is a massive infrastructure of surveillance and control.
While the online component is still being developed, here are three works that will be featured in the online section of I Was Raised on the Internet, which launches with the opening of the exhibition on June 23. Touching on topics of queer love, tax shelters, and police brutality, these works show the potential of online art to help us understand some of the most pressing topics of our time.
Anna Anthropy, Queers in Love at the End of the World, 2013
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Made by Chicago-based artist and game designer Anna Anthropy, Queers in Love at the End of the World is a 10-second online game that creates an imaginary experience of fleeting intimacy with a loved one. As a timer ticks down to zero, users click their way through a hypertext narrative, making rushed choices that determine the emotionally and erotically loaded final moments before “everything is wiped away.” As the artist writes: “If you only had ten seconds left with your partner, what would you do with them? What would you say?”
Femke Herregraven, Taxodus, 2013
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Taxodus simulates the unofficial and largely invisible offshore economy available to international corporations. Created by Dutch artist Femke Herregraven, the online game allows users to act on behalf of the company of their choice. The stated objective is to set up the most efficient tax intermediaries and subsidiaries in countries around the globe, with the ultimate aim of lowering the taxes on their company’s profits.
American Artist, Sandy Speaks, 2016
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On July 13, 2015, a 28-year-old African American woman named Sandra Bland was found dead in a jail cell in Waller, Texas, three days after being arrested during a traffic stop. American Artist’s online chatbot Sandy Speaks allows users to have an imagined conversation with Bland during the 90 minutes that the security cameras were turned off in her cell—the same period in which she died. Users can ask the bot a limited range of questions related to Bland’s death and American policing in general.