The hope for criticism after the Internet is in Post Internet art’s failure. This was a failure to live up to claims of democracy, fluidity, and expanded participation as its critical practice. It was down, not only to its drift into the hierarchies and logics of contemporary art it once claimed to escape, but also to a deeper complicity with criticality’s inability to lead anywhere but to itself, or worse to that which it “rejects” (this is, following Suhail Malik, the mode of contemporary art). Certainly the particularities of the infrastructures, in which the movement was entangled, are key: but so is the notion of immateriality as not only symbolic, but semantic, and increasingly, structural and recoverable (as commodity, as cultural capital, or, oddly enough, as objects). As it was historicized as another category of contemporary art, Post Internet art was doomed to forget any critical beginnings. Here is one crux of the failure.
However, as I want to argue, viewed from a different perspective another picture emerges. While immateriality and the western liberal discourses it relied on were at the heart of this trajectory of Internet art, the proposition of the post human reading on Post Internet re-opens the possibility of an active and transformative praxis. It relocates at the conjunction of various material-states, materialist politics, and ethics; through an art made in spite of the logics of the Internet; and defiantly enmeshed among it—and proposes a discourse that rather than flattening the contradictions of art made among the Internet, posits one un-detachable from the predicaments that produce it. Memory and history can be one such thread, bringing together generations and collectivities, if not in a coalition, than for the reclamation of a territory, driven forward through a counter-praxis that commits to being and thinking otherwise. Something that a renewed criticism must also participate in.
Tom Clark is an independent Editor, Curator and Publisher. He is currently Editor at BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, and between 2010 and 2015 was co-director / co-curator at Arcadia Missa Gallery and Editor in chief of Arcadia Missa Publications and the journal How to Sleep Faster. Tom Clark also writes and teaches on contemporary art, curating, and publishing. His writing, curating, and teaching focuses on and develops a discourse on art and curating produced after networks; art history of the narratives, forms, materiality and politics of affect, collectivity and history in intermedia and contemporary art practices; and questions of value, publics and collective politics in art and its organisation. His writing has appeared in Mute Magazine, and as catalogue texts for various exhibitions. Tom Clark was co-director of the video production research and production organisation ‘Video in Common’ where he remains on the editorial board. He is also an associate of MayDay Rooms archive institute in London, focusing on digital archives and archiving strategies, and was production manager at Mute Magazine. Curatorial projects and exhibitions include; MOT International Project Space, Central Saint Martins, the International Project Space in Birmingham, and SixtyEight in Copenhagen. Tom Clark is from Leicester, living and working in London and Utrecht, holds an MFA in Curating at Goldsmiths College London.