by Francesca Gavin

GIFs Gone Wild
Thank God the internet is more than just porn, Facebook and shopping. A new wave of artists is now pushing the boundaries of web-based and -inspired art and, refreshingly, a large number of them are female. Spread around the globe from Berlin to Athens, London to Los Angeles, young artists like Brenna Murphy, Petra Cortright, Aleksandra Domanovic, Michelle Ceja and Alexandra Gorczynski have established a real sense of community. They curate and create, link to each other online and exhibit in underground group shows. We asked each artist to create a self-portrait especially for Oyster.

Petra Cortright

Petra Cortright has an unforgettable website. The opening page is an ode to emoticons: hundreds of flashing, smiling GIFs, winking at the viewer. “I’m really of the internet. They are very silly, but essential for text to me!”

into icons. I like religious imagery. These are just icons and chat communication. They just seem very important Although she tried studying at California College of the Arts and Parsons in New York, this Santa Barbara-based 24-year-old decided to make art her own way. The results are inventive pixel paintings, digital collages, GIF art and webcam videos. Her webcam pieces form a very modern

take on the self-portrait as a mirror on society. She plays with imagery that is almost kitsch and many of her pieces utilise computer defaults: “The live webcam effects that I

use in videos are just things that come with the software. It’s fun for me to scrape together things that people sort of view as aesthetic trash. I like to view things with flexibility and possibility,” she says.

Cortright makes technology obvious in her work. “I was never so concerned with trying to hide that they were done on a computer or in Photoshop. I like that they I believe in sincerity and I always connected with the concept of Marshall McLuhan, that ‘the medium is the message’ — or at least part of the message.” www.petracortright.com
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pay some respect to the program they were created in.

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Brenna Murphy

Noisy, flashing and psychedelic — Brenna Murphy’s

videos and interactive online pieces are overwhelming. Murphy works around grids filled with moving imagery: “This comes out of my interest in exploring and modelling experience into meaningful patterns. I want my pages to be experienced as poetic data spreadsheets.” the mental structures that humans use to organise raw

Users click on audio files that overlap with rhythmic

GIFs she makes from her own video footage. “People

can turn the loops on and off in any order they choose. It’s a way of making one page into a dynamic organism that will change over time in reaction to the navigator’s path of exploration. I want to make an advent calendarinfinitely!”

Rubik’s Cube-aleph that can be played with and explored She lives in Portland, Oregon, where she graduated from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2009. Drawn to collaboration, Murphy sees the internet as a gallery space, where artists have the chance to show their work that it is hugely important for artists to show each other

to an eager community at the press of a button. “I think what they’re working on. We’re all pushing toward a

general goal of intellectual expansion through aesthetic

manipulations, so I think of it as a sort of team effort. The internet allows artists to participate in a constant stream of visual communication,” she says. “It’s almost like direct brain-to-brain vision swapping.” www.bmruernpnhay.com

Alexandra Gorczynski

When does a blog become an artwork? Alexandra

Gorczynski’s blog Hologram City comes close. A series of online collages loosely linked by colour or theme — smiley faces; space-scapes; and grainy, Salem-style images — her site is all about juxtaposition, intertwined references

The Rhode Island School of Design graduate also

produces her own hyper-psychedelic video works, which she exhibits and posts on Vimeo. In these body, telling girls to pose or move for the camera. For vibrantly coloured films she often focuses on the female Gorczynski, the internet is the most immediate and encompassing art space an artist could wish for. “I can’t I feel like I’m constantly exposed to so much art, as well unbelievable. Physical boundaries are lost.” www.hologramcity.blogspot.com remember the last time I walked into a gallery, and yet as sharing my own with people all over the world. It’s

and visual stimuli. Gorczynski intersperses fashion and artworks she uploads. “I think the imagery I post is what

design images between the photographs, animations and I find beautiful or inspiring, a reflection of my thoughts and interests. Most of what motivates me to create is It definitely comes from a passionate place.” from within me — an emotional and instinctual energy.

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Michelle Ceja

Michelle Ceja takes the digital world and transforms it “Using the internet or technology is like second nature to me; technology and the internet are just extensions existence with it.”

into inspiration for sculptures, installations and collages.

of who I am. Embracing it helps me to understand my Ceja played with software and computers as a teenager, but it was her frustration with the limitations of painting at art school in San Francisco that pushed her to take

the digital medium seriously: “I thought of my blank from twisted found-image installations to sculptures made of digital prints, screens, projections, wood and cement. She has a smash-and-grab approach to internet

document in Photoshop as the canvas.” Her works range

imagery — she searched Google Images for pictures of the results into abstract digital collages. “Disaster films in

“What will the end of the world look like?” and worked Hollywood have this amazing use of computer graphics that I’ve always been drawn to, and I wanted to mimic the cinematography in the aesthetic.”

Ceja’s work has been featured in underground shows

like the online exhibition JstChillin and pop-up project she is on the verge of serious gallery attention, with a

BYOB (Bring Your Own Beamer). Now based in Brooklyn, new body of work for Rome’s T293 (which represents artists like Simon Denny and Tris Vonna-Michell) and hand, machine and mind all work together. www.michelleceja.com Mexico’s influential geek space Preteen Gallery. Here,

Aleksandra Domanovic

“Don’t we all work with technology?” asks Aleksandra Domanovic, an artist who takes full advantage of the creative opportunities on the internet. “A new set of rules open-endedness.”

awaits to be broken. The internet implies a process of The Slovenian artist, based in Berlin, has experimented with mediums including video, web design, music and sculpture. She describes her website as not just a

portfolio, but also an ever-changing self-portrait that

alters as she does. “I’m working on projects that are constantly evolving, being updated and re-edited.” She’s even worked with office supplies, making sculptures from

PDFs. “The idea is that by using these everyday, dull

devices — like the standard A4 ink jet printer — one can make something concrete manifest from the seemingly immaterial internet.” Domanovic is also one of the artists behind VVORK, a conversational blog of images that attracts thousands of visitors daily. It’s something she sees as an extension of communicating.” The project has extended

her own practice: “Researching, curating, categorising, exhibitions, performances, talks and events and her including the internet, has changed cultural production and consumption. Not only did space open for a new kind into

approach is innately democratic. “The digital realm,

of art, but already existing things are perceived differently It’s almost like a new visual language is developing.” www.aleksandradomanovic.com

when they are experienced through a computer screen.

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