Anastasia Philominos: W.W.W. (Whole World Working)
Ambitious new show exploring complicated relationships between world politics and digital technology
In the mid-1990s Fred Turner, Professor of Communications at Stanford University wrote, '(When) the Internet swung into public view, talk of revolution filled the air. Politics, economics, the nature of the self – all seemed to teeter on the edge of transformation.' Two decades later such utopian hopes for a new, egalitarian society without borders as incited by the World Wide Web have been replaced with a surging interest in nationalism and isolationism.
Edinburgh based artist Anastasia Philominos brings together a group of artworks and writings that open up the digital technologies debate in the wake of the 2008 financial crash, which saw dramatic shifts in the political climate. Philominos' curated artworks and texts vary significantly in their ability to communicate their message; Canadian artist Michel de Broin's film, Keep on Smoking (2007) claims to act as 'a metaphor for unlearning' our current political divisions through representing a pollutant emitting bicycle, though this link seems tenuous at best – its obscurity falls in danger of alienating gallery visitors. Scottish artist Alessandro Di Massimo's Borders (2014) is more engaging, featuring variations of world maps from 194 BC up to 2014, which together reveal how shifting religious ideologies and geopolitical knowledge have shaped our perception of the world and the way it is divided.
The exhibition closes with its central artwork, a re-editioned, oversized version of Buckminster Fuller's Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1968) by Philominos and Kaisa Lassinaro, produced in an underwhelming, lo-fi manner to resemble a computer manual. Unlike a standard manual, however, its content is dense and cerebral, including statements about the ways world knowledge has evolved through power divisions. Despite certain aspects falling into obscurity, this is still a considered display which raises, rather than answers a series of loaded questions about the complicated relationships between world politics and digital technology.
Collective Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sun 5 Feb 2017