Personal Narratives, Public Connections (2011)

Curated by claireallerton
Editorial description Comments (1)

When Olia Lialina’s 'My Boyfriend Came Home from the War' was created in 1996 it was innovative. The emerging attitude of the community at this point was one of trading ideas, ongoing dialogue, inclusivity, and immediacy, played out in a virtual environment. The theme of this exhibition takes 'My Boyfriend...' as its inspiration and considers the successful development of the internet since 1996 for interactivity and personal relationships in both the digital and “real” world. ******************************************************** Lialina’s 'My Boyfriend...' consists of a montage of images and text which, when directed by the viewer, plays out the emotionally powerful narrative of the intimate exchange of a couple. The piece addresses a number of sensitive issues such as the effects of war, trust, infidelity and violence, tied together in a sequence of disjointed frames, resonating with the way real discourse may prevail. The unchanging landscape of the white window in the piece informs the viewer that this story is played out very much behind closed doors and in this manner Lialina demonstrates how even the most private of subject matters can, and will, be played out in an online form. ******************************************************** Kimberley Simpson’s 'The Kissing Booth' is alike to Lialina’s in that it uses a series of digital ready-made images and requires a similar level of interactivity from the viewer to play out the personal narrative. However the piece appears altogether more seamless than Lialina's, no doubt reflecting the relatively more playful subject matter of the work and the advances in technology between the times the two pieces were created. The pop up messages which the viewer receives when clicking on individual pictures humorously subvert the conventions of the web and play on our 21st Century knowledge of these unavoidable error windows, in this case making the “unavoidable” desirable. ******************************************************** '33 Things to do before you are 10', 'All My Life For Sale', and 'A Digital Quilt Project' are three examples of net ventures where the binaries of the real and the virtual have been fully broken down. No longer does the community participate in a personal narrative by way of a few clicks, they become actively involved in the personal lives of others. '33 Things...' documents a type of rite of passage for James R Ford, working in collaboration with his soon-to-be wife, effectively leaving his childhood online. The works of Freyer and Cloninger et al engage the online community in activities which have not always been considered online pursuits. Here more than ever it is notable that without interactivity and personal connection, stimulated but not limited to the online forum, there could be no project.

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