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In a web platform specifically developed for this virtual exhibition, visitors use their touchscreen to move among artworks, along a non-linear, forking path. The artists of not in, of, along, or relating to a line address technological agency, self-determination, and technology’s promise of liberation — or threat of suffocation. 

Four new commissions by The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery respond in part to the pandemic’s role in our technological lives. Cao Fei uses augmented reality to create an imaginary friend for her son. Lee Blalock continues her Ev3ryd4y Cyb0rg series, bringing her human-machine hybrid character into the COVID-19 lockdown. Addie Wagenknecht uses the YouTube makeup tutorial to teach cybersecurity in an accessible and humorous way, addressing recent events in the US. As for the mysterious final commission, the exhibition’s curators say, “Like other museums, we are proud to present a virtual tour of our physical space, where Maryam Al Hamra has curated an exhibition from a museum in an alternate reality.” 

Together with existing work by Sophia Al-Maria, Zach Blas, Eva and Franco Mattes, micha cárdenas, and the trio of Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, and Hesam Rahmanian, these commissions explore how identities, histories, and futures are created, transformed, or invented.

The exhibition is curated by Maya Allison (Executive Director of The NYUAD Art Gallery) and Heather Dewey-Hagborg (“bio-hacker” artist and NYUAD faculty). They note how digitally born art struggles in exhibition halls: as a non-object, it lives between the “object-ness” of the monitor and the “virtual-ness” of the digital artwork’s original form. Today, we hold that screen, that world, in the palm of our hands. The smartphone was already an extension of our bodies before the pandemic. In a way, we have all already embarked on a journey of self-modification through technology. 

not in, of, along, or relating to a line is on view through July 10, 2021. Enter the exhibition at nyuad-artgallery.org.