The Network Paradox
In collaboration with computer scientist Roger Antonsen and master printer Paul Mullowney, Greg Niemeyer created a 18-foot scroll to celebrate and reflect on the evolution of the Internet. Catharine Clark Gallery is presenting the exceptional gravure etching together with preparatory studies and custom network research tools. Niemeyer and Antonsen produced the work in conjunction with Quantopia, a new concert about the evolution of the Internet by DJ Spooky.
Niemeyer locates the origin of the Internet in the Daoist hexagrams, and traces its evolution through the Cold War, online publishing, search engines, the first dot com wave, Big Data, Fake News, and the influence of Artificial Intelligence. He sees the scroll as an attempt at gaining overview of this massive development. Overview, he says, supports the search for mature and reasonable attitudes towards information technology, considering its power, its promise, and its perversion.
The mystery of the scroll lies in the tension between a bold, iconic rendering of turning points in the history of the Internet layered under billowing clouds of detailed network formations, which elicit countless interpretations. There is broad consensus about the bold icons, but the meaning of the clouds is far more equivocal. Do the clouds reflect the desires which drive technological development, the drama of total quantification, or the energies of generational change?
But beyond these mysteries, the scroll, which is at a crossroads of two eras, the classical age of information (1936 to 2016) and whatever will follow, appeals mostly through the poetic world it creates. Blurring the boundaries between the technical order, the social dynamics, and the unpredictable chaos of the world we live in, the scroll asks viewers to think about nothing less than the ways we form our communities which define our futures.