(selected by Donna Lynas)
To Travel Somewhere, 2008
Julie Myers is an artist who uses 'new technology' in making her work. A label attached to her by others and in fact a meaningless phrase in such a rapidly evolving environment – when is technology 'new' any more? And in fact here is the root of the problem in curating this sort of practice.
Debates around the hi-tech tools that artists use in order to make work often take on more significance than the work itself – not the fault of the artist. This is off-putting to many curators and surprisingly creates the same sorts of tensions around similar debates relating to craft. Again, in craft it is the craftsmanship, tools and materials that seem uppermost, not the ideas. That is a huge generalisation and the world is most definitely changing, but the parallels can be drawn.
In defiantly using the tools that technology is able to offer, Myers has put herself in the difficult position of skirting around the periphery of the established 'art world'. Tellingly perhaps, her first major gallery breakthrough came from the ICA in 1999 at a time when that organisation was at the forefront in pioneering experimental practice and which arguably invented the phrase the 'Media Lab.' Since then she has shown her work mainly within the context of festivals around new technology and media practice - itself a parallel universe that is deliberately set out in opposition to the conventions of gallery shows, private views and all that 'paraphernalia.' Twenty years later that world is starting to seep, viral-like, into the establishment and artists are starting to approach working with technology in a much more interesting and even subversive way.
Maybe the artworld is ready for a bit of subversion but through the double benefits of companies who actively want artists to try out their new kit to see what it can do, coupled with a growing number of artists interested in the Social, suddenly this sort of work begins to look very accessible and opens up more possibilities for the audience or user.
Myers has been a pioneer herself and has been consistently interested in how the practical tools of technology can be used to tell stories about the changing world in which we live. Her work is about bringing people living all over the world very tangibly together in one artwork, and in that work she shows us how similar we all are. That may sound rather trite but it is the technology itself which stops the work becoming overly sentimental.
It is artists like Myers and her contemporaries who have made mainstream curators see what the possibilities now are in the world in which we live. And it is now up to those curators to see that it is time to give this work the serious contextualising it deserves and to finally bring it in from the cold.
Donna Lynas 2008
Julie Myers lives and works in London. She studied BA Fine Art at Middlesex University and MA computer animation at Middlesex University, Universitat Iles De Baleric, Spain and CNBDI, France (as an Erasmus scholar). Julie is a senior lecturer in Fine Art at Middlesex and Kingston universities.
Recent exhibitions include To Travel Somewhere, Kunsthalle, Helsinki (2008); To Travel Somewhere - Enter - Unknown Territories, Cambridge (2007); Elsewhere In Between, FACT Liverpool, ITEM artists (2006); Future Cinema, ZKM, GY & Kiasma Museum, Helsinki (2003); Julie's Weekend, Hong Kong Biennial (2002); Julie's Weekend, Rotterdam Film Festival (2001); Hearsay, ICA, London (1999); Peeping Tom, La Biennale de Montréal, Canada & European Media Arts Festival, Osnabrück (1999); Nosey Parker, Video Positive, Corner House, Manchester (1998).