Upfor.Digital: An Online, Media-Centered Art Show
by Allie Miller
November 24th, 2017
Upfor.digital is not the type of art show you are familiar with. It is not an exhibition where you enter a brightly light white room filled with hot wannabes in interesting prints, silently competing with other guests. It is an exhibition of oil paintings or massive sculptures that took years spent in a studio in Brooklyn to complete. It’s doesn’t even physically exist. In spite of these factors (and probably because of them), Upfor.Digital is an exhibition that demands to be looked at.
It doesn’t ask for much- only a few clicks. Simply typing the title of the show into your browser takes you right to the show: a digital art exhibition made for showcasing its digital artworks. The website, interactive experience, gallery, whatever you may call it, is a project of the “real” art gallery based in Portland, Oregon, and curated by Valentina Fois. Up For prides itself on its support of contemporary artists, “with an emphasis on time-based and media art.” Upfor.digital is its first online-only show, incorporating art from several different artists to create a message about art in the digital age.
Starting the show is the work of Breanna Murphy: a series of intricate maps-like digital drawings which resemble genetic codes. Her work is a beautiful, psychedelic collection of 3D works that look straight out of a sci-fi movie or tumblr. It’s the perfect opening for a digital show: impossibly real and trippy all the same, no less captivating when viewed on a computer screen.
Second is a Tinder-criticizing short film by Kate Durbin “Hello Selfie Men”. The artist walks through a city, a food court, dressed in a white dress with the word “MEN” printed on her chest. She’s surrounded by a horde of shirtless men taking selfies. They talk over their phones to women, take shirtless pictures, and stand surrounded by other people looking only at their phones. Durbin’s movie is funny, sexy, and like all the art in Upfor, a challenge to self-presentation and communication in a world dominated by media.
Continuing the show is Leah Beeferman’s textured, oceanic digital paintings. All of the artworks are also accompanied by a text written by Kimmo Modig, the one that goes with Beeferman’s is my favorite.
Next is Morehshin Allahyari, whose contribution is an interactive digital program where the viewer can manipulate Allahyari’s drawing using controls on the bottom of the screen, a collection of written passages satirizing dating by Megan Snowe, and gifs of female fingers on iphones by Faith Holland.
Like Beeferman’s coding poem, the show asks relevant questions in a format that’s been seldom seen before: how does value correspond with media format? Why do we choose to present ourselves through these online platforms? Does it decrease our inherent value? And what about when you throw art into the mix? How valuable is an art show that’s only visible in your safari tab? Upfor.digital presents us with the first online art show of art about media, forcing a confrontation with these overlooked issues, doing something thats never been done before, and doing it cohesively.
Photographs courtesy of Upforgallery.com