Body in the Web

What changes alongside the advancing virtualisation and development of the media are the perspectives of perception and presentation of the body on the Internet. The web as a “technology of the self” and a tool of power over identity generates endless possibilities of self-creation and altering the body, which becomes a message about who we are and how we want to be perceived. The body online, separated from its biological burden and reduced to the image on the computer screen, undergoes ongoing processes of mediation, moving from the material to the virtual world. Selfies uploaded to social media, avatars in computer games and Second Life, idealised images in stock photos, and amateur pornography are just some of the examples of the new ways in which the body functions online.

Tapping into the language of minimalism and abstraction, artists such as Harm van den Dorpel or Piotr Łakomy develop a critical reflection on the constant, or even forced confrontation with the mirror image and persona in the hypermedia culture of the image. The opposite aesthetic pole is occupied by the ecstatic projects of the American filmmaker Ryan Trecartin, for whom the body and the categories of gender, race and sexuality fall within the domain of permanent creation. Also the online personas of the performer and poet Bunny Rogers provocatively tackle the schemes of womanhood and puberty, reinterpreting the dominant images of the body and aesthetic paradigms propagated by the media and popular culture.

A similar strategy is used by the artist Jesse Darling, whose extraordinary self-portraits and performances presented at the Museum complicate the relation between imaging identity and its camouflage. The artist plays an ambiguous game with the paradigm of attention economy and aggressive self-promotion in social media – she manifests the vulnerability of her body to the eye of the camera and the gaze of the viewer on the other side of the screen, but at the same time she poses playfully with a grotesque pink phallus.