The NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) Art Gallery will soon launch its first-ever virtual exhibition, titled not in, of, along, or relating to a line. Guest-curated with NYUAD faculty and artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg, it includes new commissions and existing works from Cao Fei, Sophia Al-Maria, Zach Blas, Addie Wagenknecht, Eva and Franco Mattes, Lee Blalock, Maryam Al Hamra, micha cárdenas, and the collective of Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, and Hesam Rahmanian. The exhibition invites a new perspective on virtual and screen-based contemporary art, of particular relevance during COVID-19.
Opening on Wednesday, January 20, 2021, this exhibition of “born digital” work includes a selection of new commissions and existing pieces by nine artists, all of whom employ technology for self-expression, making visible both the restrictions and the freedoms that a digital landscape offers. These nine artists explore how identities and histories are created, transformed, or invented. For some, technology is a means to an end: a memoir, a fictional history, an intimate view of a person’s life. Others interrogate the power relations of these same tools, from virtual gaming and ‘big data’ consumer portraits to facial recognition software. The artists appropriate technologies to narrate, alter, augment, or invent their identities and histories.
Curated for ease of viewing on a mobile device, visitors will be able to use their touchscreen to move from artwork to artwork, along a series of forking paths. The exhibition has been designed to enable each journey to be entirely unique, with no two visitors having the exact same experience. In doing so, the notion of experiential relativity threads the exhibition both in its form and in its content.
“Already, pre-pandemic, the smartphone was an extension of our bodies. We are all already cyborgs, existing simultaneously on multiple planes through these technologies that extend our bodies into the virtual world. Wittingly or not, humans have embarked on a journey of self-modification through technology. Each artist in this exhibition takes as their subject this matter of agency, self-determination, and technology’s promise of liberation or threat of suffocation.”
not in, of, along, or relating to a line, explores a new way of experiencing digitally-born artwork in a unique virtual setting, and using an innovative curatorial approach. The exhibition stands in contrast to the early pandemic move to generate 3D rendered gallery spaces as a digital expression of the pre-pandemic physicality of galleries. The NYUAD Art Gallery’s latest work serves as a meditation on the fact that, increasingly, we hold our mobile phone screens, and by extension, the virtual world, in the palm of our hands.