Pipe Dreams

Katja Novitskova's “post-internet” fantasies

Text by Dean Kissick

Tank _vol 7issue 214

Just as artists and writers once found sanctuary in the cafés and bars of 1920s Paris and 1940s New York, a new generation is swapping ideas online. According to the Estonian artist Katja Novitskova, we are living in a “post-internet” world, in which “the internet is an invisible given, like roads or trees.” To help navigate this changed reality, Novitskova has compiled a survey of art and other information shared online in 2010, called the Post Internet SurvivalGuide. Her compendium of found images results in some strange juxtapositions: from African tribesmen with automatic weapons to Japanese models posing playfully with toy machine guns; from a Chinese monkey rescuing a puppy from a flood to a US military robot probing a roadside corpse in Iraq; from Arab women buying BlackBerries to Paris Hilton visiting a mummy’s tomb. Between chapters of photo-collages, Novitskova has interspersed images of individual artworks, including Iain Ball’s 3-D rendering of Beyoncé with Elongated Skull and Jaakko Pallasvuo’s The Mocking of Based God, a Photoshop montage of the rapper Lil B alongside religious iconography from Fra Angelico and Giuseppe Cesari. The digital artists in the book articulate the beliefs of a brave new world: the body shouldn’t be airbrushed into perfection, but rather abstracted into a cyborg or mutant; Google can be our primary means of exploring the planet; a new spirituality is needed for the Web 2.0 era; while the East and South take over the world, the West disappears under avatars and transforms itself into a mysterious Other. It’s a bewildering book, not least because its images are presented without explanatory texts, but, Novitskova says, “In the face of death, personal attachment and confusion, one has to feel, interpret and index this ocean of signs in order to survive.” §

Post Internet Survival Guide, published by Revolver Publishing, is out now.