Megan Wilson
Writings > 010101: Art In Technological Times

010101: Art In Technological Times

I remember in the early 80s (August, 1981 to be exact) when MTV debuted with the Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star." The video itself and many that followed at that nascent stage were visually coarse and not really that interesting. However, it was a huge buzz. The introduction was also not a first in the genre of moving pictures made for music. In 1975 Queen produced a film to accompany "Bohemian Rhapsody." Before then, "Jailhouse Rock," "A Hard Days Night," and a proliferation of television shows embodied the music video spirit in the 50s and 60s. What made the unveiling of the music video network such an historical moment was the commitment to the medium itself. Viewing the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's online project "010101: Art In Technological Times" (a clever title referencing both the site's launch date -- January 1, 2001 -- and digital media's binary roots) feels like an echo of that cultural advent of two decades ago. Presented by Intel, the site is definitely geared towards an affluent, tech savvy audience. The navigation can be frustrating and confusing (and almost impossible if you don't have a fast computer), though conceptually it succeeds at pointing out our impatience and short attention spans through its painstakingly slow text streams. Interestingly, the site has borrowed from VH-1's trendy "Pop-Up Video" format with a spattering of male-heavy, interactive pop-up quotes by the likes of Michel Foucault, Umberto Eco, and Isaac Asimov, to name a few. Once past the initial bells and whistles, the "Artist Web Projects" provide a good mix of digital art. Erik Adigard's The Site of Hours explores the notion of local and remote time, as the browser window turns into a dial that translates hours, minutes and seconds through linked images. The unnerving and invasive experience of online surveillance can be felt through Thompson & Craighead's e-poltergeist. However, most engaging and graphically interesting are entropy8zuper! and Matthew Ritchie's video game-inspired narratives that reference their relatively low-tech predecessor. SFMoMA's accompanying gallery presentation opens on March 3rd.

(415)357-4000. (Megan Wilson)