This thesis examines three installation pieces from the New Museum and Rhizome’s 2019 exhibition “The Art Happens Here: Net Art’s Archival Poetics.” Throughout, I question if net art can act as an alternative currency itself, if different projects can interfere with existing economic systems, and, if so, what they can reveal about changing economic structures.
Ultimately, I explore how Cory Arcangel’s Arcangel Surfware, a lifestyle brand offering products for web-surfing, is representative of works that play with accessibility and inaccessibility and alternative patronage systems in relation to social currency; how Shu Lea Cheang’s Garlic=Rich Air, a browser-based and physical garlic trading system, demonstrates explorations of the possibilities of actual proposed replacement currencies, similar to Bitcoin; and how Bunny Rogers and Filip Olszewski’s Sister Unn’s, a closed flower storefront and interactive website, connects to other works that look into the function of game-based currencies and play as primary motivation for action and collaboration. I also argue that, despite the evocative positioning of these restagings around the New Museum’s gift shop, they lack central elements of interactivity from the original iterations of the works and contextualization that would allow museum participants to meaningfully experiment with alternatives.
Art History/Criticism/Conservation, Art, Economics
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Riddle, April, "The Exchange Happens Here: Net Art's Alternative Currencies" (2020). Art History Theses and Dissertations. 4.