How the Nebulous Internet Has Influenced Art Since 1989
Apr 26, 2018
Alex Jen

Work revealing that the flip side of documentation is surveillance has its own section in the exhibition, but the pieces sometimes feel too literal and obvious to be engaging. Trevor Paglen’s “Autonomy Cube” (2014) is a functional Tor router encased in Plexiglas that allows visitors to surf the internet anonymously. But, it’s impossible to know that without reading the wall text, which also prescribes that we should be nervous about using public Wi-Fi and being watched. And the indifferent reactions to Lynn Hershman Leeson’s surveillance doll “CybeRoberta” (1995–1996), impossible to anticipate when the piece was constructed, are both notably ironic and ominously specific to our time: visitors take selfies by photographing its camera. We’re so used to being in front of one that a piece criticizing surveillance inadvertently gives us another chance at self-performance…