The [DAM]Berlin gallery will for the first time in Europe exhibit new software works by Mark Napier in the form of objects, life-size and smaller prints and a projection.
“Venus 2.0” consists of software written by the artist that collects images of the body parts of Pamela Anderson, an erotic icon of our time, from the hundreds of pictures of her available on the Internet and recreates a mobile, three-dimensional figure out of these flat, fragmentary pictures. A sculpture of Venus composed of the ‘raw materials’ of our time: data and information. In this way, Mark Napier reflects on our perceptions of images in this Internet age, on network structures and on the Internet’s influence on our lives.
Mark Napier (b. 1961, USA) is one of the best-known Net artists and has created Net art works for the Whitney Museum of American Art, Guggenheim Foundation and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others. His early works are regarded as Net art classics.
Every era in history has produced its own portrayal of Venus, the symbol of feminine beauty, using the formal language and materials contemporary to it. The Internet, a new medium for boundless communication, defines our era and has already fundamentally transformed the way we live together. Pamela Anderson has ‘grown up’ along with the rapid growth of the Internet. Starting out as an amateur erotic actress before becoming a fixture in the sphere of modern sex icons, her career has progressed in parallel to the Net’s own explosive expansion. Her attitude towards the shaping of her body through cosmetic surgery is also symptomatic of our age. According to the Guinness Book of Records, she’s the most frequently mentioned woman on the Internet.
Mark Napier chose Pamela Anderson as the focus of his new series precisely because of her celebrity on the Web and embodiment of a contemporary ideal of beauty. These works are about reproductions of images of the body in digital networks and their effect on our ideas of the aesthetic. Mark Napier regards the Net as a new space and his works frequently interrogate its nature and rules. In “Venus 2.0” he recreates a body out of the medium itself. It’s the Internet’s influence on the aesthetics of body image that interests him: cosmetic surgery plays only a secondary role.
‘Ultimately, media shapes our existence much more than surgery. This work is not about the specifics of plastic surgery, but the larger impact of media on our perception of and representation of our own bodies.’ (Mark Napier in an interview with Susanne Massmann, 2009)
At a formal level, a composition of superimposed, layered picture fragments emerges, referencing the flood of images existing on the Internet. As a trained painter, Mark Napier is also influenced by the history of painting in composing his works. The Venus 2.0 series contains references to Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” and portraits by Francis Bacon and is also in the tradition of the abstract formal language of Duchamp’s ‘Nude descending a staircase’.
Mark Napier (*1961, USA) lives in New York. He became inspired by software development soon after completing his training as a painter. He has been working on Net art since 1995 and was one of the first artists to deal thematically and formally with the Internet. His works explore terms such as ‘ownership’ and ‘authority’ in the Net and interrogate browser functions and Web design. He has been commissioned to create Net art works by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and took part in the Whitney Biennale in 2002. Institutions and festivals that have exhibited his works include the Centre Pompidou in Paris, P.S.1 New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Ars Electronica in Linz, The Kitchen, Künstlerhaus Vienna, ZKM Karlsruhe, Transmediale, iMAL Brussels, Eyebeam, the Princeton Art Museum, and la Villette, Paris. He has also received awards from Creative Capital, the Greenwall Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts.