until 29.09. | #2129ARTatBerlin | Kuckei + Kuckei shows from 24th August 2018 the solo exhibition ACCEPT TERMS AND CONDITIONS by the artist Lilly Lulay.
In her third solo show at Kuckei + Kuckei, Lilly Lulay explores the changing functions of photography that have evolved through the smartphone. Photographs produced with the smartphone, sent via WhatsApp, or uploaded to social media platforms are not just means of communicating with “friends”—they also reveal locations, interests, and behavioral patterns to the companies that make these apps available. With every step we take with our mobile phone in our pant’s pocket and every click on the “Accept” button, our data-based, digital self-portrait becomes more accurate and distilled.
Lilly Lulay’s series Digital Dust can be understood as such. At first, the meter-long swaths of fabric are reminiscent of analog film rolls or contact prints, but then reveal themselves to be a timeline. More precisely, they are outtakes from the free cloud service Google Photos, where Lulay’s smartphone automatically archives all images it has produced or received. Dancing across the geometric architecture of this online archive are the bubble-shaped private contents of the artist. Their organic shapes are inspired by the sophisticated algorithms of the Google Photos app, which can recognize outlines, color combinations, and faces and thereby arrange the mass of images not only chronologically and geographically, but also in terms of content. The viewer is presented with an overview of all the “digital dust” Lulay has produced within two months—images that presumably would not exist without the technical possibility of unlimited recording and storage. With Digital Dust, Lulay is not simply alluding to the short half-life and exploding amount of images we produce via smartphone, but also to the problematic nature of the fact that in viewing, distributing, and securing our images we make ourselves transparent to the companies we use.
Visibility and transparency also play a role in the laser cuts from the series Our Writing Tools Take Part in the Forming of Our Thoughts. The work examines how the smartphone has changed the way friends communicate and what role photography plays in this. As with Digital Dust, this series also confronts the viewer with an overabundance of information. Only on closer inspection it is possible to recognize in the delicate networks of ornamentation photographs of an apartment superimposed with numerous icons. In an image of a home office, for instance, the computer screen is superimposed with the icon of a globe, a cursor, and file folders. Thus, Lulay creates a classic image description that no longer works with words but uses a system of signs that is currently taking root in the digital space of smartphones and online media worldwide. The permeable surface of the laser cuts points to the fact that we, as smartphone users, are trackable, i.e. “transparent.” Like the laser cuts themselves, our online interactions also cast shadows. Our casually left footprints are condensed into data portraits that tell more about us than any detailed photo does. At the same time, the work also reflects on the question of how our digital interactions are framed; photos on the smartphone, Instagram, or Facebook always appear in combination with icons that suggest taking a particular action. Similar to how architectural space shapes our analog encounters, the configuration of the digital spaces where we meet our friends also informs how we move around within them.
Lulay’s works stirs up ideas in a wide range of directions, addressing issues of (in) visibility and privacy, transparency and censorship. Her work transports content from digital space that is devoid of any specific material properties into analog space, where it can be experienced not only visually but also physically. With her prints on fabric and her network structures created with laser cuts and photographic prints, Lilly questions the visual surfaces used by photographs, screens, and social media to confront us daily. The work is an invitation to question our own use of the smartphone and to draw attention to how this ubiquitous new writing tool informs our behavior.
Works by Lilly Lulay, born 1985 in Frankfurt, are represented in the collections of the George Eastman Museum, the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, the Fondazione Fotografia di Modena and the DZ Bank Art Collection, among others. This year, Lilly Lulay was selected as a finalist for the Schmidt-Rottluff Fellowship. Last year she received the Olympus recommended fellowship, in collaboration with the Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Foam Amsterdam, and the Fotografie Forum Frankfurt. The works presented in the exhibition were created as part of this fellowship.
Vernissage: Friday 24th August 2018, from 6 p.m.
Exhibition period: Friday, 24th August – Saturday, 29th September 2018
Image caption: Lilly Lulay, »Our Writing Tools Take Part in the Forming of our Thoughts«, 2017, c-print, Lasercut, 200 x 150 cm
Exhibition Lilly Lulay – ACCEPT TERMS AND CONDITIONS – Kuckei + Kuckei | Contemporary Art – Zeitgenössische Kunst in Berlin – ART at Berlin