Nothing to see here…

Art, Exhibition, Milano

Visual culture in the era of the Internet



Art, Exhibition

Visual culture in the era of the Internet

Nothing to see here is an exhibition in two parts and a discussion on art and visual culture in the era of the Internet at the Milan branch of the Istituto Svizzero, from 30 May through to 12 July 2013.

The initiative, curated by Valentina Tanni and Domenico Quaranta, is articulated as a moment of reflection on the status of images in contemporary society. The global diffusion of computers and the Internet, that supplied a vast number of users with the access to tools to produce and distribute images, has triggered a real explosion of creativity at every level. A multiform and undefined visual universe is the result

– made of irregular, amateur cultural products, anonymous and collective creations, memes and viral videos

– that often seem to evoke and repropose languages and practices that are linked to the avant-gardes, both historical and recent.

Nothing to see here wishes to offer an overview of this irregular and vital movement, that takes place outside the institutional circuits and is slowly giving shape to a new culture, that radically questions professionalism in the art practice and forces us to rethink the creative activity and its role in society.

The question will be dealt with by presenting, in the exhibition and during the talk on 18 June, both the products of the amateur culture and those of artists who are actively confronting this new scenario.


Starting from 30 May the ISR in Milan will host a large wall of images from tfte web (circa a tftousand): the multiform and chaotic collage with the aim of transferring into the physical space a piece of that magma of visions and creations that is expanding without stopping and reaches us every day through the screen of our computers. The set up of the wall is curated by Canedicoda.


On this background also two selections of videos will be presented: the first part, entitled Don’t watch if  you dislike, consists of amateur videos available on YouTube; Compiler 04, curated by Raffael Dörig, instead presents works by a group of young artists of international provenance that confront themselves, at aesthetic and conceptual level, with the cultures of the web.


On 1 June, in the context of Wired Next Fest 2013 that takes place simultaneously in the Indro Montanelli Gardens in Via Palestro, the Istituto Svizzero will present (in collaboration with the EPFL – Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and Reflex Magazine) an overview of some of the most innovative technological initiatives – Swiss and international – in the context of the management of hardware and software data applied to urbanism.


Reinventing Cities: Architecture, Urbanism and Data will be held at the Wired Drome (entrance Corso Venezia, Milano) from 7.45 p.m. until 8.45 p.m.. The panel guests will be Hannes Gassert (Opendata.ch), Sopftie Lamparter (swissnex San Francisco), Daniel Saraga (managing editor Reflex Magazine), Gerftard Scftmitt (Future Cities Laboratory Zurich/Singapore, ETH Zurich) and Ian F.C. Smitft (School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering ENAC, EPFL).


On 18 June, at the ISR in Milan the works of Adam Cruces and Enrico Boccioletti will be presented. The work of the two artists will go alongside the two compilation videos, thus completing the exhibition.

The same day a talk on the themes of the project will take place. Taking part in the round table will be the curators, Valentina Tanni and Domenico Quaranta, Raffael Dörig, critic and curator based in Basel, director of the Kunstftaus Langentftal, Adam Cruces and Enrico Boccioletti. During the meeting Compiler 04 will be presented, the compilation of artist videos present in the exhibition, published in DVD format in 2012 and distributed by Motto Distribution (Berlin).


The universe of images is changing. The wide-scale diffusion of computers and access to the Internet have made it possible for a vast number of people to emancipate themselves from the role of spectator, by actively participating in the construction of the contemporary visual culture. The most surprising aspect however regards the use, by these new “amateurs”, of aesthetics, languages and codes dear to historical and current contemporary art: appropriation, remix, détournement, surreality, reenactment, the shift of sense, the recovery and reuse of archive materials, the combining of “high” art and popular culture, the ironic comment. A heritage that is not always absorbed consciously, but that takes on a new life in contact with the new, wild, cultural lymph of the web.

All this imposes a rethink of the role of the artist as the creator of images and of the work of art as the vector of meaning within society. We are witnessing an explosion of micro-cultures, that develop in a frenetic rhythm and interweave without an apparent scheme and that threaten, day after day, the aggregating – but also homologating – capacity of the mainstream and of the economic systems that support it.

An image between images, art is reabsorbed in the maelström of visual culture, ending up undergoing, by a mass of anonymous creators, the very same treatment that it itself introduced and exercised for decades on the heritage of the past and on popular culture.

Nothing to see here is an attempt to reflect on this scenario, which on the one hand  questions the role of art,  but at the same time seems to relaunch it through the mechanism of challenge.  What  does  it  mean,  nowadays, to be producers of images? In what way are these interpreted and acknowledged by the public (a public which in turn has become a producer of contents)? And lastly, perhaps the most radical question, destined to remain open: in what way has our gaze changed, the very act of viewing?

Enrico Boccioletti (*1984, Pesaro. Lives and works in Milan) is an artist and musician active in the field of performance and post-conceptual and “new vernacular” sound. The topics of circularity and incompleteness, duplication and accumulation, loss, stratification, counterfeiting and faux-real are some of the issues that the artist deals with in his work.

The works of Adam Cruces (*1985, Houston, USA. Lives and works in Zurich) analyze the interaction between man and the computer and the current condition of progress reached through technology.

After his studies in visual arts at the Kansas City Art Institute and at the ZHdK in Zurich, he founded the Desktop Views and Headquarters, respectively a website that gathers a database of images and a project space and platform available also on the web. He has taken part in solo and group shows at the Link Center for the Arts of the Information Age, Brescia; Elaine MGK, Basel; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Foto 30, Guatemala City. He has a series of exhibition projects planned at the 55 Sydenham, Sydney; NERO Headquarters, Rome; IMO Projects’ Phonebox, Copenhagen and Helmhaus in Zurich.

Valentina Tanni is an art critic and curator. Her main interest is the relationship between art and new technologies, with particular attention on the cultures of the Web. In 2001 she founded Random Magazine, one of the very first online magazines entirely dedicated to Net Art – the website, closed in 2011, then became a book (Random, Link Editions). She was amongst the founders of Exibart, a project she worked on until 2007. She is co-founder and managing editor of Artribune. She has curated numerous exhibitions, amongst the most recent are:“L’oading. Videogiochi Geneticamente Modificati” (Siracusa, 2003), “Maps and Legends. When Photography Met the Web” (Rome, 2010), Datascapes (Rome, 2011), Hit the Crowd. Photography in the Age of Crowdsourcing (Rome, 2012). She lives and works in Rome.

Domenico Quaranta is an art critic and curator. His research analyses the impact of technological and social developments on art, with particular reference to art in the spaces dedicated to networking. He collaborates regularly with Flash Art and Artpulse magazine. His first book, NET ART 1994-1998: La vicenda  di  Äda’web was  published  in  2004.  He  is  also   author   of   Media,   New   Media,   Postmedia (Postmediabooks, 2010) and In My Computer (Link Editions, 2011). He has curated and co- curated numerous exhibitions in Italy and abroad, amongst the most recent are: “Playlist” (LABoral, Gijon 2009 – 2010 e iMAL, Brussels 2010); “Italians Do It Better!!” (a collateral exhibition during the Venice Biennale in 2011) and “Collect the WWWorld. The Artist as Archivist in the Internet Age” (Brescia, Spazio Contemporanea 2011; Basel, House of Electronic Arts and 319 Scholes, New York 2012). He teaches Net Art at the Accademia di Belle Arte di Brera. He is artistic director of Link Center for the Arts of the Information Age, of which he is also co-founder since 2011. He lives and works in Brescia.

Raffael Dörig studied history of art, media art and German studies at the University of Basel, where he lives and works. He has been the director of the Kunsthaus Langenthal since 2012. He was curator at the Medienkunstraum plug.in from 2006 to 2011 and co-founder and co-curator of the Shift Electronic Arts Festival in Basel. He teaches in the department of media art at HEAD in Geneva.