What is post-internet art?

Post-Internet refers to a current trend in art and criticism concerned with the impact of the Internet on art and culture. Taking cues from the understanding of Postmodernism as a reaction to or rejection of Modernismi, post-internet does not imply a time “after” the Internet but rather a time “about” the internet. – Artsy

The idea of the post or after the internet immediately attributes to this form of art the notion of having a cultural aura. Post-internet art is art about the internet, in fact, it uses commonly recognized symbols and language that can result as being familiar in any part of the world. This universality attributed to it is a major strength promoting. The term suggests the ease in conducting political commentary through this art. However, this does not seem to be the case as it requires the physical presence of people to create such commentary. Even more relevant, is the fact that these artists of our times don’t really seem to be interested in creating such pieces of art as a commentary on the political situation in China. Post-internet art is a promise of  broad social commentary in the term “Post-Internet”, but as “Competing Images” demonstrates, it takes real people to bring this implicit commentary to life.

The rise of post-media aesthetics

Because manifestations of the new aesthetics are based in computational language, algorithms and self-replicating systems of code, it is necessary to question whether traditional accounts are variable or whether the very notions of beauty, pleasure, idealism, and expressiveness are reducible to mathematical structures or simply incompatible with natural language when assessing new aesthetic objects.

While in earlier times internet art would only stay on the internet, what is made today is specifically designated to be shared, reproduced and reacted to. While it used to be incredibly long and unpratical to reproduce art, it is now as fast and accessible as it can be.

Contemporary society is heavily dependent on the data feed offered by the internet. The new aesthetic ideal of art is a sherable concept, it is collectively intelligent. The goal of some post-internet practices is to engage with this proliferation of images and objects- items of culture created without necessarily being described as art- and proclaim an authorial stance by indexing/curating these objects. Post-internet art is an art that aims at looking good online. It is about creating something that can be commented on. Especially in countries like Chine, the accessibility of the internet has become a very important tool through which the new wave of creatives can operate and express their ideas and notions of aesthetics.

In the critique of pure reason Kant writes: “by nature, in the empirical sense, we understand the connection of appearances as regards their existance according to necessary rules, that is, according to laws.”- Beauty is, for Kant, a mediating link between nature and freedoma in a transitory sense, meaning that it serves as a subjective assertion of the free play of our rational capacities. Post-internet art resists the Kantian notion that they must be lacking purpose in order to be universally posited as beautiful simply because of their form, within its radical presentation of its digital origins is its purpose. Taste enables a move to freedom, from indeterminate theory to determinated freely created response; objects which exist within the real of the new aesthetic not only resist being opportunities of tase but are antithetical to taste itself. Post-internet art does not exist for aesthetic and, therefore, reflective judgement. They exist as a representation of their unity.

Inquiry into this topic comes from the fact that his critique of judgement is one of the most important theories of aesthetic theory ever made. It is quite compelling to find out how such arguments can be applied to the creation of art today. The internet can be seen as a space of complete freedom of expression and an unrestricted stream of thought. In arguing that beauty is found in reason, Kant makes an argument for the absence of interest as an experience of freeom. In fact, Kant’s investigation of the judgement of taste served this as a tool thorugh which investigate the aesthetic relevance of post-internet art. If this is the case, is there a degree of regularity involved in postigital and new aestheric objects?

In view of the fact that Kant suggests that representational art cannot be attributed the quality of freedom and therefore not pure suggests that he assumes nonrepresentational art to be superior to representational art. In view of the fact that the funciton and the aesthetic of post-internet art are hard to separate, makes it impossible to attribute to it the aesthetic quality that Kant gives his conception of art. It must be agreed that Kant’s idea that beauty must be supported by some form of knowlefge and that this is not necessarily the case with digital objects as they increasingly dominate the character of our lives. Post-internet art does not exist for aesthetic and, therefore, reflective judgement. They exist as a representation of their unity.


Lu Yang:

Lu Yang explores Neuroscience, mortality, religion and gender through her art.
The artist creates a digital human being that has no sexuality. She talks, through her art, of the neurosciences, replicating deep brain simulation and RTMS working on the deep limbic system in order to create delusions in the viewer. The work is an inquiry int the past, present, and future. It is a stream of consciuousness thorugh which the artist is replicating the act of harming herself over and over again in her work although it is clearly only an illusion. The topics covered by the artist demonstrates a clear shift from the ideas covered in post-cultural revolution art, in fact, it shifts towards the artists’ internal relationship with himself rather that making a commentary on the political status of the country. It becomes a more spiritual and truthful art, about the self, becoming narcisism that is so accentuated that it actually results in a loss of identity that turns reality into a dream. The artist argues that the perception of her art varies depending on the nationality of the viewer. She says that the Chinese are offended by art involving violence. The consumption of her art is also different and more direct. In fact, the artist talks about how she monitors clicks on her art and argues that her spectators are always very extreme.
Cao Fei:
Cao Fei explores the everyday lives of Chinese people born after the cultural revolution, a generation that grew up with the internet. In the 200s, the immersive computer game Second Life became a central preoccupation of China and Cao created her own digital utopia, RMB City, within the game.  Cao Fei combines popular aesthetics, surrealism, and documentation of films and installations. His work in a way comments on the rapidly changing conditions in the Chinese society. His video art analyzes closely Chinese community targeting especially the youth and commenting on the problems that are caused by the lack of economic growth and the repression that is caused due to the still prevailing ideology. Creating a utopic world, the artist is effectively giving stance to a platform to empower viewers to create identities and change their future though art.
Li Liao:
Li Liao experienced firsthand what it means to have Apple products assemled in China. For 45 days he worked at Foxconn assembling iPads (45 days being the time it took for him to be able to buy his own iPad). The result of htis time was his most well-known work, Consumption, his work clothes, ID card, employee contract, and the iPad as artwork being displayed in galleries around the world.
Miao Ying:
Miao put her first work on show in 2007, spending three months researching every word blocked on Google China. Titled ‘The Blind Spot’, the piece became a personal index of censored words and marked the beginning of a long-term engagement with internet suppression in her home country.

Prospects of the post-digital

The architecture of the internet- an arrangement of language, sound, and images, in which imagery is the most dominant, immediate factor- helps facilitate an environment where artists are able to rely more and more on purely visual representation to convey their ideas and support an explanation of their art independent of language.


Today the Chinese Communist Party still understands itself as an evolving organism whose techniques of government are marked by Maoist maxims. Internet censorship in China in the most extensive effort to selectively censor human expression ever implemented. It’s omnipresent washing of people’s feeling and perceptions create limits on the information people recieve, select and rely upon. The content offered by the Chinese state media, after its processing by political censors, is not free information. It is information that has been chosen, filtered and assigned its place, inevitably restricting the free and independent will of readers and viewers. The harm of a censorship system is not just that it impovirishes intellectual life; it also fundamentally distorts the rational order in which the natural and spiritual worlds are understood. The censorship system relies on robbing a person of self-perception that one needs in order to maintain an independent existence. It cuts off one’s access to independence and happiness.


“That’s what we have here in China: The self-silenced majority, sycophants of a powerful regime, resentful of people like me who speak out, are doubtly bitter because they know that their debasement comes by their own hand. Thus self-defense also becomes self-comfort”. – Ai WeiWei



The great virtues of the internet- ease of access, lack of regulation, vast potential audiences, and fast flow of information have been turned to the advantage of groups committed to terrorizing societies to achieve their goals. Today all active terrorist groups have established their presence on the internet. They use the internet thotugh psychological warfare and propaganda or fundraising, recruitment, data mining and coordination of actions. At the World Confernece of International Communications in Dubai in 2012 the U.N. was not in the position to pass a binding treaty becasue social media by terrorists is harder to identify than other regualted areas of internet use. Terrorist acts were defined as “those acts which are intended to induce public fear or to coerce state organs international organizations by means of violence, sabotage, threats or other tactics.” China’s definition is directed towards act that “endanger society”, wich could be constructed very broadly. Because most other countries don’t have a one-party system, China’s definitio would be difficult to apply to  more politically pluralistic nations. The U.N. could still coordinate a successful international response to terrorists proselytizing to disaffected youth on the internet- a strategy that has recently become more effective and produced horrific consequences. China has also recenly created a cybersecurity law that punished the dispersion of information that is considered to be harmful to the honor of the nation, disrupting to the communist ideology or disturbing ecnomic order. The law is designated to safeguard Chinese internet users although at its core it will allow the government to monitor all web activity and will oblige companies to be complicit in this process. This will accentuate the closed nature of the country preventing Chinese companies to compete with the rest of the world.

Although the internet is supposed to be a place to operate freely, it is also a vary dangerous place as it is the platform thorugh which many terrorist organizations operate. Terrorist organizations are increasingly trying to spread the ideology or recruit members through social media. The WCIC’s attempt to find a binding treary was not successful due to disagreement among members of the international community. Different ideologies, such as that of China make it really hard to come to create an effective traty. The only hope for such implementation would be cooperation among states with the UN taking the role of coordinator amongst them. More recently, the UN tried to create a treaty on December 5th 2017, NATO and EU ministers agreed to cooperate in the area of cybersecurity and defense.


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