On view August 20, 2020 – January 3, 2021
Future News reframes conversations about truth online in terms of what search engine artist Gretchen Andrew calls “positive failures.” By using her vision boards to playfully hypnotize Google search results, she exposes the inherent and structural limitations of 1s and 0s binary technology while simultaneously using these limitations to reclaim the internet as a forward-thinking tool of possibility. The feminine and trivialized materials of her vision boards purposefully clash with the male-dominated worlds of artificial intelligence, programming, and political control they also operate within.
The internet can be seen as a global subconscious, and, much like our own subconscious, it cannot tell the difference between a hoped-for future intensely imagined through art and what has, in fact, already occurred.
This is because the internet cannot parse desire. To parse is to divide into parts and identify the parts’ relations with each other. When humans read, “Gretchen is really hoping that someday her work is on the cover of Artforum,” it is understood that the relationship between Gretchen and the object of her desire to be one of separation. By contrast, the internet essentially understands only that Gretchen is “relevant” to the cover of Artforum. Now when anyone, anywhere in the world Googles “Cover of Artforum,” Gretchen’s vision boards, which will be physically displayed at the Monterey Museum from August 20, 2020 – January 3, 2021, come up as the top results. Give it a try! Google “Cover of Artforum.”
Further unleashing her powers of programing and desire, works displayed in this exhibition also hack the 2020 American presidential election through the search, “The Next American President.” Artificial Intelligence is inherently backward-looking and susceptible to being reprogrammed through knowledge of the internet’s structure. Gretchen exploits it, rewriting our sense of political possibility by using a search engine’s own rules and limitations against itself.
We can see these search results as a technical failure or as an asset, as tangential to “fake news” or in line with the history of computers as dream machines à la internet pioneer J.C.R. Licklider. If we think of the internet like the artistic and creative medium Gretchen believes it is, we begin to realize that demanding accuracy from it may be misguided. What if we are having the wrong conversations? Conversations about art are generally not served by real vs fake as much as by nuance, opinion, perspective, and metaphor. When we see these vision boards appear as top search results, we know that the system is being tampered with.
Through Gretchen’s vision boards, Future News gives us a different way to look at our current moment while suggesting a hopeful path forward.
Future News will be installed at the Monterey Museum of Art with public visits pending health and safety information. Gretchen Andrew will also be in residence at The Monterey Museum of Art throughout the course of her exhibition. Open studios and other public programming will be announced.
Image: Gretchen Andrew, Cover of Artforum, 2020. Novelty champagne bottles, heart stickers, costume brooch, and charcoal on canvas. 60″ x 48″.