"Gone Forever" Art Exhibit Satirizes Social Media

Artist Jesse Hulcher's "Gone Forever" Exhibit reminds viewers of the intersections of art and technology and pokes fun at the impact media has on art.

Artist Jesse Hulcher showcases his work, which muses on the effects of social media, at the Space Gallery in Pittsburgh. “I’m hoping the audience gets a sense of physical, intellectual and emotional vacancy” Hulcher said in an interview with the Globe and Mail last Thursday. The collection is a series of interactive installation pieces that remind viewers of the intersections of art and technology and pokes fun at the impact media has on art.

Hulcher earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts in 2003 from the Atlanta College where he specialized in digital video. After completing his Master’s of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University, he helped curate a group exhibit called “Smoke & Mirrors” at SPACE in 2009. Since then, he’s been involved in exhibitions at the Mattress Factory, The Andy Warhol Museum, and Future Tenant Gallery. His current exhibit, entitled “Gone Forever,” involves a number of multi-media pieces, which invite viewers to reflect on their own interactions with social media.

Piece number nine, entitled “Hot S – ” involves a gun-shaped zip file with a Word document hanging beneath it. The word document lists all the names of the files contained on the zip file, each one beginning with “steal this.” Viewers can actually plug their cell phone into the Zip drive and steal the material on it, a process that mimics online file sharing.”It involves the idea of people walking away from this show with something that they didn’t even think about owning before they came in” Hulcher explains. The piece also comments on the ways technology damages art; these days, artwork is often stolen online under the banner of “information sharing,” and Hulcher’s work hints that this process could damage the arts.

The other thirteen pieces in the exhibit make similar suggestions, though Hulcher claims he isn’t trying to comment on social media. Instead, he says he’s trying to display it, following the “show don’t tell” principle.

Another piece entitled “Bored on the Internet” displays a series of images of people’s less-than-amused faces while video chatting on chatroulette.com. Another, more ironic work called “War and Peace, New Abridged Version” takes Tolstoy’s classic novel and fragments it, whittling it down to one percent of its actual length in a word document.

“I am inspired by new gadgets, like Facebook and Internet trends” says Hulcher. “I am using tools that anybody who buys a Mac computer can have [to make] my art. It’s a show full of very simple pieces.”

Though the display seems to focus on the negative aspects of technology, Hulcher claims he remains impartial towards technology: “I’m not trying to make a statement or a judgment about media either way” he says. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making art with iLife, and I don’t think I’m any better than anyone else or a more legitimized artist because I’m showing in a gallery. I just think these pieces are interesting.”

SPACE gallery is free to the general public and is located downtown Pittsburgh. “Gone Forever” is on display until May 1st.