The newest exhibition at UICA, Terms of Service (TOS), is a look at the matter of identity, individualism and the conditions that we must face (often without notice) within the increasingly surveillance in our lives.
The timing of this exhibition could not be more perfect, as many of us begin to question what exactly are we trading on within this new digital landscape many find hard to escape. This exhibition is unique in that it presents an international voice – not just a local's response to the topic - as TOS addresses the psychological pressures that commercial and non-commercial monitoring creates, as well as potential solutions or responses.
"We voluntarily give up our privacy: installing security cameras in our homes, signing agreements without reading the document, allowing the government to tap our emails, texts and phone calls without protest," says Molly Tiesma, TOS curatorial committee member and GVSU Visual Studies major. "In Terms of Service, we explore how this has changed our perceptions of the role of technology in everyday life; it is affecting our social interactions, our relationships, and how we exist in an increasingly surveilled world."
One example, ScareMail by Ben Grosser, asks if you agree with his premise to take the concept piece home with you and place on your own computer. With Grossner's work – an actual piece of code – he has created a work of art disguised as code to disrupt the surveillance tactics many governments use to flag and read your emails.
Another piece, Us+ by Lauren McCarthy and Kyle McDonald, represents technology's impact on our collective relationships. The implications of this piece dive into how much we rely on technology in our lives and how that reliance affects our relationships. The next time you are out to dinner with a friend, notice how often the phone is in your hand (and your friend's is not).
Participating artists are from New York, Chicago, The Haugue Netherlands, Illinois, Florida, Maine, Rhode Island and Michigan and include Liat Berdugo,
Justin Blinder, Nick Briz, Jon Chambers, Karen Chan, Robert Derr, Benjamin Grosser, Tara Hutton, Krzysztof Lower, Lauren McCarthy, Kyle McDonald, Owen Mundy, Cybil Scott, Levi Sherman, and Annie Teall.
These artists bring to this local exhibition a host of credits including the organizations of Eyebeam, Transmediale in Berlin, The Guardian, Queens Museum International, Rhizome, Oxbow, Instructables, APEXART, Flux Factory, ACRE, The Washington Post, Hyperallergic, Wired, STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon, YCAM in Japan, Ars Electronica, Sarai Media Lab in New Dehli, and The New York Times. Two of the artists are students in the Department of Art and Design at Grand Valley State University.
This is such a truly fresh contemporary art experience that we may have to invent a new word for it. "Wet canvas on the gallery wall" just does not translate when modern practices are in play as they are here at UICA's TOS.