Landscape with a Ruin, exhibited at the Mona Bismarck American Center during FIAC and Paris Photo, explores the physicality of the Internet to engage with Nature and better understand the cultural shifts brought about by the increasingly frequent demands of technology.
In autumn 2014, Evan Roth set out on a peculiar kind of pilgrimage: he would seek out and visit coastal sites where undersea Internet cables emerged from the waters. The ensuing trips form the basis of Landscapes (2014-ongoing), an extraordinary body of work grappling with one of the most fundamental issues of today’s networked condition: the fast-changing concept of being in time and space.
Roth visited landing locations in Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, the UK, the US, Sweden, France, and South Africa. With every journey, the pilgrimage’s original purpose receded a little more, the artist shiftin his attention from mapping the place to simply being there. Roth recorded his work with a camera doctored to shoot in infrared, the frequency of the information traveling through fiber optic cables. Each video was then uploaded to a server located in the country of the site represented. Watching these works is thus an almost performative act of receiving data traveling physically from the work’s places of origin.
The Internet is always centrally figured in theories of contemporary cultural acceleration. But Roth’s videos carve out a space for contemplation wholly absent from the digital sphere. Landscapes has little to do with an Internet (or, indeed, Post-Internet) aesthetic, drawing instead on romanticism, landscape painting, and the pictorial tradition of ruins. Inscribed in an artistic and philosophical history that has sought to come to terms with one’s very place in the world, they rekindle an inquisitiveness and sense of wonder many had thought lost.
Evan Roth (b. 1978, Michigan, USA) has tracked the impact of the Internet on global culture and social mores for over a decade. His practice spans net art, installation, sculpture, and video. It is rooted in a commitment to the original ideals of the web as a place free and accessible to all, as well as in a deeply-held belief in art’s capacity to challenge and transform reality. Poetic and often aesthetically restrained, Roth’s work unfolds as an open-ended reflection on the way digital technology is shaping people’s behavior and their sense of place in the world.
Roth was co-founder of the Graffiti Research Land (2005-2007) and Free Art and Technology (F.A.T.) Lab (2007-2015). Based in Paris since 2010, the artist has exhibited internationally, including at the 2016 Biennale of Sydney, at Tate and the Whitechapel Gallery in London, and Bard College, New York. In 2016, Roth was the recipient of a Creative Capital Emerging Fields Award for his Landscapes series. The artist has been awarded the Artangel Everywhere commission for a new project with global reach, which will be unveiled in 2018. His work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.