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Internet art thrives in its native medium — over the past few years, there have been a significant number of online-only galleries, including Bubblebyte, Fach&Asendorf, and Klaus Gallery, that focused exclusively on showing the work of digital artists online. Physical spaces that make the necessary effort to turn internet art into compelling physical installations have been slower in coming. Thankfully, Brooklyn’s new Transfer Gallery is here to help solve that problem.
Located on a barren stretch of Metropolitan Avenue in Brooklyn that’s also home to some large artist studio buildings, the first-floor space has been turned into a polished gallery, with a rectangular white prism, wooden floors, and a small front desk familiar to anyone who has visited any Chelsea or Lower East Side operation (Transfer’s skinny layout has more in common with the latter than the former). Outwardly unassuming, the clean space taking roost in a relatively unpopulated location creates a great context for considering an art form that’s often dematerialized.
Transfer was started by Kelani Nichole, an independent curator known for her work with the net-friendly, Philadelphia-based Little Berlin artist-run collective and gallery, which has shown artists and groups like Computers Club, F.A.T. Lab, and Petra Cortright. The new space’s programming reflects a deep engagement with the internet art community; upcoming exhibitions are planned for emerging online artists including A. Bill Miller, Lorna Mills, and Rollin Leonard, as well as digital art elder statesman G.H. Hovagimyan. Transfer’s inaugural exhibition, which opened last Saturday, is a solo show by Alexandra Gorczynski.
Gorczynski, whose work has been shown at new media powerhouses like Eyebeam and 319 Scholes, covered the front wall of the gallery with an instantly familiar dark-purple landscape — it’s the default background for any Mac computer. Attached to the wall are blue file folders that mimic Apple’s own icons perfectly, with the folders’ names inscribed below them in white vinyl. The wall is a desktop, and Gorczynski has populated it with thumbnail-like objects that are actually digital paintings.
Printed and mounted on foamcore, the mostly-abstract paintings wrangle a bunch of digital aesthetic clichés: drop shadow, transparencies, and faux spray paint. They’re charming and fun to look at, and at a price of $300 per edition, extremely affordable, but the best part about them might be the file-name titles underneath the images. Rough paintings brushed onto Wacom tablets are difficult to take seriously.
The gallery website explains that Gorczynski’s work “shares a personal look at the metaphors inherent in a networked life,” but the pieces rarely extend beyond reciting the visual archetypes of our digital existences. The computer desktop, after all, is by now a pretty old concept.
Though the first exhibition at the gallery isn’t quite a knock out, Transfer’s polish and commitment to bringing internet artists into real space should help it become an authoritative voice in years to come. The gallery’s plan to help produce salable work both in the form of exhibitions and editions to be sold through their (excellently designed) website also hint at pushing toward solutions for some of the primary problems of digital art in the commercial sphere.
Alexandra Gorczynski: Truisms runs at Transfer Gallery (1030 Metropolitan Ave, East Williamsburg, Brooklyn) through April 6.