After more than a decade of declining participation in the arts, the majority of Americans—about 71 percent—now consume art electronically. A new exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston seeks to examine what that means for art, and how the digital age has changed the field. Featuring a broad range of works across different mediums—including painting, performance, photography, sculpture, video, and "web-based projects"—the exhibition traces the history of digital-age art from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the social movement Black Lives Matter. In that period the Internet has both created new opportunities for communication and also challenged artists to create new and inventive work.
Visitors will find modern themes of digital art, like human enhancement and government surveillance, on display, as well as enduring issues of resistance, community, and identity. The exhibition—along with its accompanying book—features artists like Ed Atkins, who creates hyper-realistic digital avatars, provide a thoughtful, sometimes disturbing, perspective on technological change. In Atkins' words, his work shows how technologies like CGI are "pushing hard at realistic and failing hard to push into real."