27 through July 1, 2001
List Visual Arts Center
20 Ames Street, Cambridge, Mass.
by Erika Dalya Muhammad
This exhibition is held in conjunction with the conference
Race in Digital Space taking place at MIT on April 26-28,
2001. I wish to thank the conference coordinating committee, and all
who helped to make this exhibition possible.
Issues of race and ethnicity ferment in digital space. The art in
this exhibition explores how electronic culture influences the constructions
of identity, race, and nationhood, as our conception of the historical
document evolves. The artists featured
in Race in Digital Space not only use digital media to comment on
digital culture, but they also employ digital tools to comment on
the chronicling of history, and to anticipate future realities.
Program One of the film and
video selections features personal stories and testimonies. Many of
the works demonstrate a wry sense of humor as they visually examine
how the construct of racism is positional and relational. The impact
of new media on visual culture has taken many forms, the most dominant
of which is the cut-and-mix techniques employed by many of the artists
Borrowing from popular music, jazz, and DJ culture, the artists featured
in Program Two of the film
and video section are attentive to audio resonances in visual images.
The combination of video, break-dance, and graffiti-inspired pieces
creates a dense, yet comprehensibly magnetic, hip-hop complexity.
Program Three features film
and video works with Afro-futrist themes, and demonstrates an aesthetic
that illuminates a complex global Diaspora, originating in Africa
but transcending race and ethnicity, which is defined in terms of
modes of expression, paradigms of perception, and systems of symbolic
communication. The uncovering of cultural identity is not an essentialist
practice, but rather a way to communicate stories of the past and
imagine narratives of the future.
The CD-ROMS and net.art
in this exhibition demonstrate the elliptical nature of digital documentationčtheir
interactivity offers examples of how to make digital experiences corporeal.
The community-activist websites, many featuring the work of youths,
revolve around the utopian aim of translating digital investments
into "real world" activism. The hyperkenetic "impact aesthetics" created
by remix engineers and editors is often far removed from the realities
of daily life. In the sonic exercises featured here, an amped-up level
of interaction and manipulation allows you to "hear" the digital habitats
and political foundations created through the use of hi-tech tools.
The works featured in this exhibition offer examples of how cultural
and social interactions define our uses of technology.