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The Networked Avant-Garde with Kelani Nichole

Presented by the Berkeley Center for New Media's Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium series and the Department of Art Practice.

The networked culture that emerged at the end of the twentieth century introduced a generation of artists who employ open, distributed, virtualized, and highly collaborative techniques. Their studios are built on commercial software, CGI aesthetics, online public exhibition, and peer-to-peer sharing and critique. They simultaneously embrace and subvert technology as a means of interrogation, expressing humanist, nonbinary, and decolonialized futures. In building a “Simulism” movement, they reckon with Silicon Valley, the platforming and globalization of culture, global climate change, and technologies of power like artificial intelligence and virtual reality. The networked avant-garde faces unique challenges—technology changes quickly and constantly; conservation and preservation practices are still being developed; critics and scholars have overlooked decades of pioneering work; collectors have been slow, so far, to acquire this type of work. But despite these challenges, this avant-garde stands to significantly change what making and distributing art means in the century ahead.

Kelani Nichole is a design strategist and exhibition maker based in New York. She consults for agile product teams and startups, and founded TRANSFER, an experimental exhibition space in Brooklyn. Nichole specializes in challenging variable media artworks: she designs exhibitions in the home, gallery, and art market contexts. In 2018 Nichole began serving as director of The Current, a cooperative collection of contemporary media art that examines technology's impact on the human condition.