What do ejaculatory champagne bottles, feline emoticons, literal "birds and bees," and a shrine to an imaginary online "church of cat" have in common? They are all part of Faith Holland's wild obsession with the Internet in all of its virtual, continuously consumable glory. Over the past few years she's made a range of work that tackles the web with sharp, comical critique. While naysayers may feel that there is no new Internet Art to be made, and the same folks are likely skeptical of anything GIF (including its pronunciation), Holland adds new layers to the conversation in an attempt to surface the interconnectedness of it all.
Holland uses images from various films and the Internet as her source material, mashing them up to draw larger inferences on how digital media represents, constructs and visualizes beauty, sexuality, and how we experience the world. She is particularly drawn to the relationship between visual spectacles in Hollywood and online. These include big budget special effects, low fi animated GIFs, and a focused attention on technological absurdities in online pornography. With many of her pieces, she pays particular attention to early, and now dated, Internet innovations such as self-published homepages in the mid 1990's, to the newfound appreciation for the GIF in art an pop cultural circles over the past five years.
While these ideas are a common thread throughout all of her work, they are most obvious in Holland's series Visual Orgasms, which comments on what she sees as Hollywood's historical pressure on sex to be visually consumable. The series exaggerates this idea with various collages of sexual metaphors (waterfalls, trains leaving tunnels, fireworks, etc) that intentionally exclude actual sexual acts.
And somehow, cats seamlessly make their way into Holland's increasingly evolving fascination with online mania. For Holland, they are closely tied to her ideas of how the Internet is structured, and to other visual symbols and that appear throughout all of her work. She sees early Internet cat obsession as potentially being influential on the widespread development of memes and other forms of viral imagery.
"Cats got on to the Internet on the ground level. When I look back at Geocities archives or my own personal collection of images downloaded from the Internet, they were always present—and they’ve been more enduring than other early Internet obsessions, like the Grateful Dead."
Bio: Faith Holland is an artist and curator whose practice focuses on gender and sexuality’s relationship to the Internet. She received her BA in Media Studies at Vassar College and her MFA in Photography, Video, and Related Media at the School of Visual Arts. Her work has been exhibited at Xpo Gallery (Paris), Art in Odd Places festival (New York), Elga Wimmer (New York), Axiom Gallery (Boston), the Philips Collection (Washington, D.C.), and File Festival (São Paulo). Her work has been written about in The Sunday Times UK, Art F City, Hyperallergic, Animal New York, and Dazed Digital.