by Sukanya GargAug 29, 2019
The exhibition The Dead Web – The End at the Ludwig Museum in Budapest, Hungary, includes works by Hungarian and Swiss artists to reflect on the issue of what a post-internet world would look like. Highlighting our addiction to the internet, which governs not just our way of life, daily routines and choices, but also our economic, political and social connections, the exhibition questions the notion of connection as a point of contact in the world, re-evaluating both the digital and physical realities of our existence in a post-internet age.
Here, STIR speaks to Béla Tamás Kónya, the curator of the exhibition, which is on view till April 26, 2020.
Sukanya Garg (SG):The increasing internet capacity crunch is raising questions about a future without the web. What kind of post-internet world do the artists envision in such a scenario?
Bela Tamás Konya (BTK): With the exhibition of Ludwig Museum, we are focusing on the obsolescence of the internet, and also the huge amount of equipment that surrounds us. Nowadays, we do not repair our tools, but buy new ones. With the artworks in the exhibition, we reflect on these questions. For example, Projet Eva’s work tries to focus on the situation that you have no connection with real life nowadays, everyone gets in touch with others on social media platforms. You sit in the middle of the installation, there are mirrors around your face that are spinning around faster and faster, till finally you cannot sense your face visually in a static position.
SG: The boundaries between the real and the digital are increasingly blurring, especially with the advent of AI, AR, VR and robotics. In a post-internet world, can human connection go back to its pre-internet state?
BTK: I do not think that we can change our future because of the situations of the past. Everything is changing all the time, and we are developing continuously. I do not think that we could return to the life that existed before the internet because it has changed our thinking, the way we live our lives, and our communication. From art, it has affected real objects because real paintings and physical artworks are also digitalised nowadays. With digitalisation, every piece of work can be shown on social media as well. However, with any further changes in the internet-based world, it seems that we will find out a new way of living and new types of connections after the age of the internet. Therefore, I don’t think that we won’t be alive without the internet, only the type of system may change.
SG: Could you talk about the works exhibited in the show? What kind of themes and ideas have the artists explored?
BTK: We present a few works from the Ludwig Museum’s collection, such as Bálint Bori’s Half-time. This is a readymade piece that was created by the artist as a kind of statue, and also an instrument which resonates with the help of light. If the light is switched on above the artwork, with the help of the solar engine a special sound can be heard. This raises a new question: with no electricity, is there an alternate way to create an electronic artwork as well, with sustainable engines and materials?
Further, in this exhibition we also present Roman Ondak’s piece. You can see books stored in cases filled with formalin. This is also a reference to the question of how we could preserve information in the future. While it looks like a regular server room with shelves all over the world, here you can see some melted pieces and coloured formalin liquids. It shows you that with the melting process, pieces of information will start to disappear and melt into the formalin. Therefore, at present we do not know the exact way of preserving technology or information.
SG: Is there an answer or solution to the increasing internet capacity demand crunch?
BTK: In the Ludwig Museum, we started a dialogue five years ago with professionals and conservators about the same. There are new technology products and providers who work on expanding capacities, but it is a risky question because technology components are now connected to the internet. It is not only used for human communication anymore, but rather, gadgets and pieces of lifeless equipment can also communicate with each other, supporting and changing our lives. So, maybe the net-based problems would also be sold in the future by digital devices and systems. Maybe the internet crisis itself will also be sold through digital devices.