Lorna Mills at Western Front

Seeing in The Age of Something: Lorna Mills’ Ways of Something reflects on post-digital condition of seeing.

In 1972 BBC premiered John Berger’s cult documentary Ways of Seeing. Berger quoted Dziga Vertov, reflected on the beauty and aesthetics, credibility and authenticity in Western tradition of painting. More than 40 years after the BBC release Lorna Mills, a Canadian artist famous for her web-based art, presents a remake of Berger’s classics.

Ways of Something is a subjective interpretation of the world seen through the multiplicity of frames, computer screens and mobile cameras. The first three episodes (Episode 4 is currently in production) feature 117 artists who created one-minute interpretations of Berger’s ideas. The visual diversity of the videos can be explained by Mills’ curatorial perspective on the project. She admits that she intended it to be as international as possible and was choosing artists at different points in their careers while not limiting their art practice to “net-art.”

Lorna Mills is being more than precise by changing the word seeing to something. Deleuze predicted this shift from visual to information culture in his seminal work Cinema II by saying that electronic image comes into being to transform the image cinematic. Proliferation of electronic images reshapes the way we see or, better say, read the image.

Ways of Something is a visual and auditory collage, cognitively dense and acquisitive. Rather hypermediated, it is constituted by gifs, pop culture idols and web and surveillance camera footages, remix of existent works of art, World of Warcraft episodes, an array of web-based contemporary visual culture artifacts and 3D renders. What first seems as a random assortment of visual forms and expressive techniques has in fact a striking consistency. Episode 2, in which the viewer is invited to reflect on what Laura Mulvey most famously termed ‘the male gaze’, poses a variety of questions. How is the mirror manifested in web-based and digital art and how does it represent our understanding of self-image and self-awareness? Being exposed to the gaze, being constantly watched at.  How do we see ourselves through the mobile or computer screen or avatars?

After viewings in Amsterdam, Berlin, New York and London, the Vancouver premiere of Episode 1-3 will take place this Thursday, March 5 at 7pm at Western Front.



Images courtesy of Lorna Mills.

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