Aram Bartholl (DE)
Isolated on White (2019)
Prints, archival pigment on canvas The print series “Isolated On White” is based on photos retrieved from stock photography online services. A hand holding a phone is a very typical photo offered by these companies. The particular selection for this series though features each a hand pretending to hold a phone. There is no phone although the viewer can clearly tell by the familiar gesture there should be a smartphone. The low resolution photographs including company watermarks have been altered through image editing software. An industrial halftone CMYK printing grid, used in billboard ads introduces a second layer of abstraction to the different lines and marks of the possessive company watermarks. The human hand, isolated on white, owned by desire and commerce seems to be in a half open half closed gesture, representing the ambiguous duality of internet and society.
Aram Bartholl uses sculptural interventions, installations, and performative workshops to question our engagement with media and with public economies linked to social networks, online platforms, and digital dissemination strategies. He addresses socially relevant topics, including surveillance, data privacy and technology dependence, through his work by transferring the gaps, contradictions, and absurdities of our everyday digital lives to physical settings. The effect is twofold. The works create an at-times bizarre confrontation with our own ignorance of globally active platform capitalism, and they renegotiate network activities as political forms of participation on an analogue level using the potential of public space. Bartholl thus initiates a performative process to catalyse a renewed understanding of individual action within a collective and self-determined network discourse. Conceptually and technically, he uses the same aesthetics, codes, and communication patterns that users are familiar with from YouTube, Instagram, and video games. A purposeful contextualization employs the logic of the Internet while at the same time undermining it with individual strategies.