The Prickle (@ThePrickle) January 24, 2019
Aptly titled “All I Know Is What’s On The Internet” (which is, horrifyingly, a direct quote from Donald Trump), this intense and unsettling show considers photography’s status at a time when the boundaries between truth and fiction are being tested.
The exhibition focuses on how we maintain and filter the constant feed of global information, exploring the interplay between our impact on technology and the imprint it leaves on us. Images of accidentally scanned hands during the process of digitising literature, and faces mistakenly captured by cameras documenting the landscape, especially resonate.
Throughout the show, there’s a whole mix of video installations, static displays, blinking screens, art pieces and complex mechanisms. The interactive and immersive nature of some exhibits are particularly apt for examining our role as internet consumers. One stand-out piece on this theme invites users to perch on tree stumps, surrounded by wood chippings and old books, while watching a hypnotic film about the installation of undersea internet cables.
The show also raises questions about culture and the intersection of technology, morality, personal responsibility and politics. Following along this train of thought, one machine attempts to disrupt the algorithms that predetermine the content we see on Instagram and Twitter feeds. In another piece, a glitchy, kitschy and cute series of animations by artist Miao Ying considers the websites banned in China.
Particularly chilling are the testimonials of content moderators for websites such as Facebook, tasked with sorting through inappropriate content, who have clearly been deeply affected by what they have witnessed. Their voices have been fed through benign avatars, their voices robotised, and the overall effect is incredibly jarring.
The whole show is incredibly broad in scope – each work demands careful attention and is entirely absorbing in its own right. Much like scrolling through your phone, you have the feeling you could unwittingly spend hours here. This deeply powerful and affecting show is a lot to take in, and is sure to stay with you long after you’ve left the gallery.
Book £5 exhibition day passes on The Photographers’ Gallery website until 24 February 2019.