Extract from the exhibition press release
The big shift in the way people talk about the internet today is that when they say internet, they do not necessarily mean online. The internet has such a pervasive effect on our lives that it is hard to imagine living without it. People use it as a tool, a companion, a vehicle for communication, a space for self-reflection, an entertainment platform. As a result, we now begin to speak of post-internet because the internet has become so ubiquitous that we stop to notice its existence. No more does the internet exists to indicate the online web, accessible through a device connected to a network. Instead, it endures as an online-offline heterotopian space that connects faces and machines from around the world. A location that is neither here nor there. According to writer and curator Stephanie Bailey, the internet is a non-dimension of "consensus and dissensus, convergence and divergence" (Bailey, 2014, p.130). Public —but very much privately owned. In an essay based on a lecture given in 1967, Michael Focault defines heterotopia as space that, like the internet, is mythic and real at the same time, such as the moment when you see yourself in the mirror:
"In the mirror, I see myself there where I am not, in an unreal, virtual space that opens up behind the surface; I am over there, there where I am not, a sort of shadow that gives my own visibility to myself, that enables me to see myself there where I am absent..." — Foucault and Miskowiec (1986, p. 4)
Instagram, for instance, is the 2010s heterotopia. A place that represents society, but in a distorted way. Have you noticed how on Instagram we come across very particular idealised aspects of culture? It happens so often that we have started to believe life should be as organised and peculiar—but spotless—as our feed. Yet, what else can be gained from suggesting that the space of the internet is a heterotopia?