Molly Soda on Park Avenue: Checking Out Paddles On! Phillips

October 7, 2013 | Marina Galperina

Nicolas Sassoon’s Waterfall 6 is in the window of Phillips (starting bid: $800) and it’s not as disorienting as I thought it would be. I remember when I would stare into its pulsating glowing waves online and later, fiddling Rafaël Rozendaal’s responsive gradient websites until happy. Right now, IfNoYes.com is projected in its own room at Phillips (starting bid: $4,000), with a trackpad. Let me tell you how this makes me feel about digital art and the market and life and everything this weekend!

Or I could wait until October 11th.

Molly Soda’s commissioned re-performance of her eight-hour endurance email-reading Inbox Full (starting bid: $700) played on, and on, and on, and on, like a theme song to the artist that is the ambassador avatar for the “super internet user culture.” The wall around her monitor changed hues, illuminated by Jamie Zigelbaum’s Pixel (starting bid: $6,000) as it was responding to being pawed sensually by two luxury-item-buying-types. Two others, younger, were touching the touch screens embedded in Alexandra Gorczynski’s huge PLUR Piece (starting bid: $4,000) a bit aggressively — everything is not THAT interactive, chill — but the lighting was perfect, rectangularly illuminating the print but not dulling the glowing digital screens.

Curator Lindsay Howard walks me through the space, pointing out Casey Reas’ Americans! (starting bid $9,500), a video piece of spliced, distorted, flashing bits of cartoons that turns on by itself at 9:30am and turns off in the evening. Howards points at the sex-swing-ish Silvia Bianchi + Ricardo Juarez Turning The World Upside Down (starting bid: $500). “You should buy this, Marina.” Wink-wink. Hey, I can almost afford that. 

Not all of the pieces are purely digital, but all employ digital imaging, algorithms, computer manipulation, conceptual digitality in general. Addie Wagenknecht Asymmetric Love Number 2 chandelier of CCTV cameras (starting bid: $5,600) can be seen from the outside too and it’s a jarring visual. It’s also a sculpture — the cameras are functional but not functioning. As zeitgesity as it is, it is familiar to the buyer.

Maybe that’s why Petra Cortright’s sept.psd #1 print on an aluminum sheet (starting bid: $4,000) has ten more bids than her video piece RGB,D-Lay $1,000 because it’s the thing that looks like a painting and Park Avenue knows paintings.

The live auction is this Thursday night on October 10th (following a panel discussion, followed by a Anamanaguchi DJ set and reception), under the Paddles On! epic description of “a groundbreaking auction and exhibition that brings together artists who are using digital technologies to establish the next generation of contemporary art.” That’s a hell of a weight.

It’s understandable that this would catalyst a sort of new tribalism in the community, a sort of a “Phillips u late,” discussions about what is and isn’t “digital art” and what it means to be grouped, identified and possibly marginalized under a label when the practice is so currently prevalent, almost necessary. And digital works aren’t exactly novel to this particular tier of the market. But the trajectory being defined so distinctly — in relation to the narrative arc of art — is.

There have been several professionally-produced digitality-emphasizing exhibits, but the crisp aura of legit-ness in the air here is different, brand-crashing.

I’m still getting over Molly Soda of the Internet making the luxury browsers listen to her fan email. LOL?

(Photos: Marina Galperina/ANIMALNewYork)