Advancing technologies and the rise of possibilities with the Web 2.0 have given way to a new wave of digital and internet artists – the likes of whom hack tech to create immersive digital experiences or tap into the glitchy tumblr aesthetic to stitch found images together to present altered views of reality. Readily swapping gallery walls for computer screens, IRL for cyberspace and paint for lines of code, these artists are challenging what we understand art to be and changing the way we interact with it.

Tabita Rezaire: Leading a techno-crusade

For techno shaman Tabita Rezaire, the internet is an environment with its own power dynamics and she uses it as a site, subject and aesthetic reference in her work. She says, “I’m interested in the internet for its possibilities, not yet realised. For now I want to understand how it is used against us, how it is part of a scheme to control and dominate black and brown bodies at the benefit of a white supremacist economy. As much as our bodies do, the internet needs healing.” Tabita’s work is an endeavour to understand how technology (and the internet in particular) have changed our relationships to our bodies and, alternatively, how this very medium can be used as a tool for resistance. www.tabitarezaire.com

Tabita Rezaire

Tegan Bristow: The culture of technology

It’s in lines of computer code that Tegan Bristow finds inspiration and the spark of creative potential. A lecturer at the Digital Arts Division of Wits School of the Arts as well as an interactive media artist in her own right, Tegan is most interested in the space that digital art affords interaction and engagement – the place where she believes meaning is made. She’s currently completing the final year of her PhD on aesthetic and cultural practice in technology use in Southern and East Africa. “My academic work is central to my creative practice, understanding why and how things happen helps me understand my own practice in a particular cultural context and also the unique “culture of technology” we are all part of,” she explains. Tegan recently curated a group show, Post African Futures at the Goodman Gallery to furthur explore these African tech cultures and their socio-political and economic histories. www.teganbristow.co.za

Tegan Bristow

Bubblegum Club:  Deciphering youth culture

Both active members of the art collective known as the Cuss Group, Jamal Nxedlana and Lex Trickett‘s most recent collaborative venture – having worked on many a glitched-out lookbook for Jamal’s fashion label, Misshape – is the Bubblegum Club. Here they position themselves as trend consultants; deciphering youth culture and plugging brands and organisations into Johannesburg’s fresh creative energy. The duo recently created a film for InnovationZA (a series of events and activities exploring the convergence of the arts and technology) that looks at connection as a means of innovation and creativity. Using a pixel sorting javascript algorithm to create a flavoured reality, they imagined a futuristic Joburg within a global hybrid space where creative producers are pushing the boundaries of cultural production and collaboration. www.facebook.com/bubblegumclubbb

Dineo Bopape: The ambiguous gaps between things

Dineo Bopape is a multidisciplinary artist whose work focuses on the ambiguous gaps between things or, what she calls our “collective global schizophrenic now”. She’s interested in the notions of ephemerality, disrupted narratives, performed stories and fragments of language, dismantled sites of memory, and temporal expectations. “One of my primary concerns,” she says, “is how to tell a story, how to de/re/construct a story…how to tell an old story anew. How to forget, and how to remember. […] I am interested in video time and in some sort of a decay in linearity; in mediation and artifice; in things acting as things/things acting as props around which multiple stories dance/and are entangled.” www.seshee.blogspot.co.za

Dineo Bopape 2

Carly Whitaker: Using technology to create dialogues

Artist, researcher, Wits lecturer and co-initiator of the Floating Reverie online residency, Carly Whitaker has a specific interest in the digital as an artistic medium in South Africa and is currently extending her practice and theoretical research into this area. Through her work Carly engages in a constant exploration of how we communicate through media and the ways we use technology to create dialogues between ourselves and our environments. In doing so, she addresses contemporary online culture and urbanism as well as the interaction of fashion, craft and technology. Of the digital space and digital art, she says “I love the scope that it affords you as an artist and how it is so intrinsically linked to contemporary culture. We come from a generation who may be considered as digital natives, so much of who we are is rooted in the digital medium, online, on television etc. and filters through our lives and our own networks. In my own work, I love being able to capture that effect and interaction using the medium.” wwwcarlywhitaker.co.za

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Brooklyn J. Pakathi: The internet (un)reality

In his internet short film Hallu-Ci, Brooklyn J. Pakathi chronicles the story of Frank Nzima Lin: a 20 year old South African born of a Zulu father and a Korean mother. We follow his interaction online as the URL visor – through which he discovers, defines and conceals self – begins to crumble at his fingertips. “While Frank struggles with an inherited cultural dichotomy; a similar dichotomy extends itself to the majority of youth and addresses a typical experience of contemporary youth culture in the age of the internet,” explains Brooklyn. He recognises the internet as a realm of extreme contrast – enabling the construction of an online identity which, though containing elements of reality, is never entirely real. In his current project, iosupdatemylife, he further explores human-tech interactions by staging an ongoing existential conversation with an iOS. www.iosupdatemylife.tumblr.com

Brooklyn J Pakathi

Bogosi Sekhukhuni: Identity in a post-apartheid South Africa

“I feel like post 1976, Mxit was the most important liberation force for South African urban kids; we really explored our curiosities about sexuality, race and love,” recalls young artist Bogosi Sekhukhuni. “I remember hanging out in really crazy chat rooms and I used to talk to this one random white girl from Port Elizabeth who was really emo and dark and I guess I liked that…The internet is such a powerful weapon for the kind of self actualization I want to promote.” In Bogosi’s work his medium is his message – as the internet and the plurality of self that it enables becomes a metaphor for the questioning, constructing and redefining what being young in SA means today. www.bogosisekhukhuni.tumblr.com

Bogosi Sekhukhuni

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