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ME TIME Living in a regional centre like Canberra has it’s pros and cons. For me, one of the hard things is feeling isolated from the broader arts dialogue in Australia and this leaves me wondering how to stay connected to contemporary arts practice. Obviously, I expect my smart phone to have all the solutions, I opened instagram and added galleries and artists following a trail of tags. This raised the issue of how art making and presentation has changed in a world when we are connected to the internet almost every waking moment. Collected here in Me Time are artists I’ve discovered through social media, each making work reflecting our changing relationship with current technology and raising questions regarding ethics, authenticity, community and identity. Claudia Greathead dives into the world of online dating, using Tinder and it’s users as the fodder for her work Timeless Trophies (2016) comprised of paintings and postit notes. Tinder, a modern dating/hook-up app, allows users to pass judgement on others as they swipe through potential dates. Greathead opens this process up for the public to cringe at; a fleeting moment, a potential ‘yes’ or ‘no’ made permanent for a vastly different audience than the one these users intended. Each of these profile pictures represents the ultimate self-portrait, as each user’s success depends on their being selected however in the noble pursuit of attention and they often stumble into turgid masculine stereotypes. Greathead draws our attention to common tropes of profile pictures, grouping post-its by theme such as adventure sports, ab close ups, snapchat dog filter selfies and holding trophies. Is this really what attracts a modern woman? Accompanying the post-its are two paintings, distorted through the artist’s gestural style but we are still able to make out familiar poses. The artist has made physical the fleeting and intangible moment of scrolling through profiles in her painterly works.

CLAUDIA GREATHEAD Timeless Trophies (Fake Estate Installation, Brisbane), 2015, inkjet prints on post-it notes, dimensions variable

CLAUDIA GREATHEAD Untitled, 2015, oil on canvas, 60cm x 50cm

Like Greathead, Giselle Stanborough concerns herself with the ethics of online dating in Lozein: Find the Lover You Deserve (2016), a fictional dating service exploring ‘the quantification of love in the digital age’. The work exists as a set of corporate style promotional objects, a website and social media streams featuring the artist as CEO, selling the service to potential users. In a short time social media and dating apps have altered relationships, the way we seek them and how we conduct them but are we aware of the corporations driving these apps and what is in it for them? As explained on the website, Lozein aims to find users a more authentic match based on a quantified and qualified analysis of an individual’s ethical standards and behaviours, without having to fill out any questionnaires. This is acheived by mobilising current technologies like global surveillance networks to analyse users. The second part of Lozein consists of social media streams posting highly constructed images depicting the ideal human form. We aren’t concerned with these over stylised images as they are so common in the visual vernacular we encounter whilst scrolling through the web that although we know they are fake, everything is fake so we keep on scrolling. Equally concerned with the corporations behind digital life and the way our information is harvested is Grace Blake. Her large scale wall decal is a self portrait made up of images from the artist’s Google photos. Google uses algorithms that work like neural networks to scan Blake’s images and categorise them. She was surprised and somewhat horrified to find a category filed under ‘nudes/selfies’ revealing images she believed she had deleted bringing her attention to the underlying power of the companies we sign up to and the terms of service we regularly scroll through and click ‘agree’ without a second thought. The resulting self portrait constructed from a selection of these categorised images all taken on her smart phone is critiquing the way contemporary society is glued to it’s devices, constantly messaging, recording, gaming and uploading seemingly unaware or perhaps willfully ignoring the threat of surveillance through our trusted and indispensible smartphones.

GISELLE STANBOROUGH Find The Lover You Deserve, 2016, banner, dimensions variable

GRACE BLAKE Left on seen, 2017, printed acrylic decal, 310cm x 206cm

GRACE BLAKE Left on seen (detail), 2017, printed acrylic decal, 310cm x 206cm

Janis Lejins has been working with visualising data and social media for several years and the work produced for Me Time is a re-working of a piece made four years ago. The original work printed tweets being sent to @justinbieber from the online community in real time on receipt paper that piled up in a fairly short period. The new work prints these tweets interspersed with all those being tweeted at @ realDonaldTrump. What was once a purely humorous and whimsical work is reflecting the increasingly unnerving reality of President Trump. Social media depicts the current feelings of the world immediately, the first response to any event appears here with journalists reporting on twitter posts and news headlines sent out as tweets short circuiting the traditional news cycle. As you watch the machine printing, the similarity between tweets at both men are mesmerising. Both being extremely divisive public figures, they attract both utter adulation and derision. Lejins’ machine makes physical the intangible tweets ticking over on our screens with receipt paper accumulating throughout the exhibition that transforms public opinion into concrete form.

JANIS LEJINS @JustinBieber @realDonaldTrump (detail), 2017, mixed media, dimensions variable

JANIS LEJINS @JustinBieber @realDonaldTrump (detail), 2017, mixed media, dimensions variable

The ultimate human portrait is the goal of Anna May Kirk’s Alice (2017). Three iPhones are mounted on selfie sticks each playing a closely cropped video, two eyes and a mouth, the mouth reciting the lyrics of Every breath you take by The Police. The videos form a genderless face and create an unnerving experience as the eyes move in alternate directions. The lyrics are chilling when spoken in a monotonous autotuned voice. Tully Arnot focuses on himself in Breath (2017), a video loop of a closely cropped section of his body as he breathes. Skin goes in and out of focus as his chest rises and falls. Online we find ourselves creating profiles on one networking site after another, one for dating, one for professional networks, one for image sharing. Each time we select images and text trying to be the best version of ourselves but perhaps not the most authentic. Arnot’s video may not provide as much detail as we would perhaps find on his Facebook profile but it is inevitably a far more intimate portrait as we align ourselves to the constant sound of his breath, the rhythm of focus and the glimpse of the sounds of his environment seeping into the work.

ANNA MAY KIRK Alice (Human Unit) (digital prototype), 2017, mixed media, dimensions variable

TULLY ARNOT Breath (still), 2017, HD video with stereo sound, 12’40’’ duration, looped

TULLY ARNOT Breath (still), 2017, HD video with stereo sound, 12’40’’ duration, looped

NEW WORLD ORDER (2016) by Claudia Nicholson is a series of videos utilizing the style cues of gifs to create self-portraits referencing both her Latin American and Australian heritage. Each of the 5 videos engages with a different aspect of pop culture or folklore relevant to her background and identity. The artist combines selfies taken with photobooth on her computer with decorative, sparkling stickers found on the web, images of pop stars and music. In JLo Glow the artist is wiping her eyes with a similar image of JLo (Jennifer Lopez) superimposed behind her. JLo came to fame after playing Selena Quintanilla-PĂŠrez in a biopic about the famously assassinated Latin- American star. The pose of the two women references La Llorona (the crying woman) a crying ghost who murdered her children to exact revenge on her boyfriend. A bottle of Morning Fresh detergent, an Australian household classic, sparkles in the corner anchoring the artist in her environment. Each video takes us through an aspect of culture important to the artist and the construction of her identity. Self-titled (2017) by Benjamin Forster permeates the exhibition, only really existing as a whole when placed alongside other works. To create the work Forster has sourced 150 movies carefully downloaded from a file sharing site, from here he has then downloaded the subtitle files, taken only the descriptions of audio and collated each of these phrases into groups from most frequently to least frequently used. These subtitles have been evenly distributed across custom programmed screens, the number of which are dictated by the capacity of the micro controllers and how much text they are able to hold. The screens then randomly select which subtitles to display based on frequency with common phrases showing up more frequently but for a shorter amount of time whilst less common phrases show up less frequently but for a longer duration. Though this seems like a labor intensive process the intention is quite simple, Self-titled is an example of how language cannot be owned, unlike energy or water it cannot be privatised, Forster has taken subtitles describing the work of others and combined them, dislocating them from their original authors and their context and detaching them from their meaning.

CLAUDIA NICHOLSON JLo Glow (still), 2016, digital video

CLAUDIA NICHOLSON Jungle love song dedications (still), 2016, digital video

Curating this show has been like surfing the web, scrolling through images and heading down rabbit holes, from discovery on Instagram, studio visits through facebook and email, updates and downloads through messenger and wetransfer. Each of these artists explores what it means to be an artist (and a human) in the internet age. Tackling the increasingly blurred boundary between our IRL (in real life) selves and our digital ones and how we negotiate the issues that arise from this phenomenon. How do our own ethics fit with those of the corporations directing online platforms? How do we depict ourselves accurately with authenticity without compromising our privacy? How is our experience of self shaped by our digital engagement? Me Time has not answered as many questions as it has raised but ultimately it is about how are lives are shaped living with a device in our hands 24 hours a day, everyday. Sabrina Baker, April 2017


Curated by Sabrina Baker Catalogue by Alexander Boynes


ME TIME @ CCAS (2017)  
ME TIME @ CCAS (2017)  

ME TIME featuring work by Tully Arnot, Grace Blake, Benjamin Forster, Claudia Greathead, Anna May Kirk, Janis Lejins, Claudia Nicholson, Gis...