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Social Media Inspires Art Of #TheSocialGraph

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Luna Park, "This Is a Photo Opportunity" (2008)

Your Facebook wall may be a work of art. A new exhibit at Outpost Artist Resources in Queens called the #TheSocialGraph explores the emerging field of social media art.

Artists, writers, and social media mavens are all participating in the exhibit. Each piece of work was inspired by social media — including a retrospective of YouTube from an art world perspective and a dance performance inspired by avatars.

Curator Hrag Vartanian says that online communities have come a long way from the days when social media was only used by tech geeks and early adopters.  “Now, it’s gotten so mainstream because there’s such a large public using social media,” Vartanian said. “It has become almost like a public arena of sorts that an artist can utilize to reach just as many people potentially as a museum.”

Even publicity for #TheSocialGraph was done online, without using traditional press releases. Instead, organizers and curators blogged about the show on Hyperallergic, a site that Vartanian edits, and used Facebook and Twitter. 

Vartanian stresses that the field of social media is still brand new, and the show’s approach to the medium is experimental. “It’s probably only in the last year or two that you’ve even heard the term ‘social media art’ without a little bit of irony attached to it,” said Vartanain. “People would often use the term as a little bit of a joke. But we wanted to say that this is not about a status update, this is not about tweeting what you ate for breakfast—which is the cliché of what social media is—it’s going beyond that, to find works that are doing something totally different. It really is a brave new world in some ways, and we’re trying to figure out exactly what it means."