Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, USA | Website
Zach Blas’ Contra-Internet: Jubilee 2033 (2018) audaciously re-imagines scenes from Derek Jarman’s 1978 queer punk masterpiece Jubilee, replacing Jarman’s vision of a deliriously devastated Britain with one of Silicon Valley in flames. In Blas’ take on Jarman’s allegory, the acid-tripping trio of Ayn Rand (played by underground icon Susanne Sachsse), Alan Greenspan and painter Joan Mitchell bear witness to the internet’s end. As Apple, Facebook and Google campuses burn, techies, hackers and wannabes alike are made to pay for their complicity, and disembodied avatars—including a “contra-sexual, contra-internet prophet” portrayed by performance artist Cassils—present histories of techno-surveillance and enact purgative gestures of erotic rebellion.
This screening of Blas’ Jubilee 2033 is accompanied by a quartet of works similarly examining themes of techno-dysphoria and which consider the relevance of emotion and subjectivity in an increasingly mediated and chillingly trans-humanist culture. Jesse McLean’s The Invisible World (2012) catalogs the video genres of Web 2.0—notably YouTube “Haul” and “Unpacking” videos—while considering our attachments to our objects and our bodies in an increasingly dematerialized social landscape. Mike Hoolboom’s Instructions for Robots (2019) considers the interior lives and sexualities of a cadre of emotion-laden robots exploring avant-garde filmmaking in a Cuban art school. Peter Burr’s Drop City (2019)—named for Colorado’s famed (and failed) early counter-cultural art commune—presents a looping landscape of electronic melancholy while continuing his exploration of contemporary video game aesthetics. Opening this program of 21st Century despair is James Duesing’s 1990 work of computer animation Maxwell’s Demon, an uncannily resonant missive from the internet’s early daze.
Curated by Steve Polta