Post-internet art, accessibility, and democratization

By Lorenza Mezzapelle

Art was once something that could only be viewed in a museum or a gallery. It exemplified wealth and education, epitomizing privilege. Yet, art is used as a tool by artists to reflect and react against society, politics and the economy; something pertaining to everyone.


As a result of the popularization of the internet, in the early 90s, art has become increasingly implicated with the internet, technology and its counterparts. Digital culture has had a significant impact on the art that is produced today, the way in which it is observed, and the way it can be accessed.


As a result of this, we can observe the birth of Post-Internet art. This movement is distinct in that it is not a reaction, as most movements are, but rather it is one that uses the internet to its advantage. Through the exploration of technology and digital realms, artworks are made as a means of demonstrating today’s digital culture. These works often explore human behavior and its relationship to the internet, or act as a form of criticism by investigating its impact on art and culture.


Moreover, through the internet, these artworks are made easily available to anyone who wishes to see them. Through this phenomenon, known as the democratization of art, the sharing of these observations is easily accessible. This marks an extraordinary revolution, by which anyone with access to the world wide web can view and decipher a work of art on their own.


This movement has provided artists with a way of capturing the zeitgeist. Petra Collins, the Canadian photographer, filmmaker, and artist infamous for her way of creating a dream-like state in her photographs, explores this concept in a number of her works. Petra Collins: Coming of Age is a book that explores and encompasses growing up in a digital age through personal essays, photography, and interviews. Her distinctive, pink-lens perspective often reflect on the ideals propagated by the internet and her personal experiences growing up at the rise of tumblr, blogspot and social media.


Reflecting on, and engaging with, the internet is what defines this movement. Artie Vierkant, an interdisciplinary artist, explores property and patents in his series “Exploits,” wherein he delves into intellectual property and the immateriality of the internet. In an age where everyone has an online presence, this critique and reflection on the online footprint is one that is relevant to all.


The availability of these works online facilitates interaction between the artist, the art, and the viewer. Not only is this vital for the livelihood of many artists—Instagram being a contributing factor to the success of many—but also extremely relevant in maintaining a conversation about the impact of the online world on our culture and society today.


While art was once something that defined an era, it is now ever-changing and evolves on the daily. With artists updating their websites on the daily, posting their works on Instagram, and engaging with the viewers, the conversation is more relevant than ever.


Art can now be viewed by anyone, regardless of class or location. What was once privately purchased or kept behind velvet ropes can be appreciated online. The web has not decreased the value of art, but rather facilitated access and created a broader understanding of it, facilitating the way we understand, interact, and appreciate art in relation to its greater contexts.