Honor Fraser Gallery is pleased to announce 2006, Guthrie Lonergan's debut solo exhibition. A reception will be held at the gallery on November 5 from 6–8pm, and the exhibition will be on view through December 16, 2016.
The videos and websites on view in 2006, most of which were produced in that year, are among Guthrie Lonergan's earliest artworks. They demonstrate an interest in what has become one of his central themes: the traces of humanity existing in the impersonal structures and aesthetics of the internet. The works in 2006 also exemplify Lonergan's ongoing exploration into the concept of the default as both an easy-to-use software preset and, more generally, a template for how we use language, pose for the camera, or perform other everyday interactions with technology. For Lonergan, choosing to exhibit these works a decade after their production also functions as a portrait of the years around 2006 as a transitional era in which the internet was rapidly evolving, in Lonergan's words, "from the wild west of personal websites to the shopping mall of current-day social media feeds." In order to mark the decade of transformation that's passed since 2006, the gallery will become an E-waste collection site where visitors and members of the local community are invited to recycle their outdated electronics for the duration of the exhibition.
Through his involvement with online communities such as the internet surf club Nasty Nets, Lonergan developed the characteristic dry wit and conceptual clarity found in his work as well as a keen awareness that the internet was changing into something at once both more accessible and more controlled. The works in 2006 were either produced on software loaded with default settings (such as iMovie) or they feature appropriated examples of other people using similar types of basic digital tools. For example, in A Sound Investment (2006) and 2001<<<>>>2006 (2007), Lonergan pairs generic default video effects such as automated zooms, wipes, and mirroring with other pieces of media to create playful and poetic juxtapositions. Meanwhile, in Myspace Intro Playlist (2006), he pieces together videos in which teenage users of the then-dominant social media platform Myspace address the camera and introduce themselves with invariably similar lines: "What's up, Myspace? Welcome to my page," etc. By editing these short videos together, Lonergan reveals how speech patterns and body language can become default modes of expression parallel to the default design of the Myspace profile page itself. The videos are also indicative of the internet circa 2006: Although the teens' eager solicitations hint at the "like economy" that we are now familiar with on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, they address "everyone" on Myspace rather than a select group of "friends" and "followers."
The scope of Lonergan's investigations of the internet includes the physical hardware required to display these virtual worlds. Bugs in Screens Playlist (2006) points to the materiality of the screen through a compilation of found YouTube videos in which someone demonstrates how a bug—an actual insect as opposed to a computer "bug"—is caught in their computer monitor. In Domain (2006), Lonergan juxtaposes video depicting navigation through a basic 3D world with appropriated photos of hardware rigs set up by hardcore gamers in their bedrooms. "Domain" refers to both a virtual location on the web and the grand dwellings the gamers have designed. By focusing on the hardware as he does in these videos and by transforming part of the gallery into an E-waste collection location, Lonergan confronts the ephemerality of net art: Unless it is skillfully preserved, art produced using the computer technology of its own moment lives and dies with the capabilities, file formats, aspect ratios, and default settings of that moment.
In 2006, now-forgotten buzzwords like "Web 2.0" were part of daily conversation. The massively scaled hubs that now dominate the internet such as YouTube, Facebook, and Wikipedia were just beginning their reach into mainstream life, and there was still excitement and optimism around the possibilities of the internet. Situated at this technological and cultural pivot point, these early works by Lonergan seem like artifacts from a different time, marking the beginning of a new era for the internet.
Guthrie Lonergan was born in 1984 in Los Angeles. He received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2006. His work has been included in thematic exhibitions such as Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2016); Ordinary Pictures, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN (2016); BYOB MOCA LA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (2012); Is This Thing On?, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH (2011); Video Dada, University Art Gallery, University of California, Irvine, CA (2010); The Generational: Younger Than Jesus, New Museum, New York, NY (2009); New Wave, Internet Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2009); mybiennialisbetterthanyours, 10th Biennale de Lyon, Lyon, France (2009); and Montage: Unmonumental Online, New Museum, New York, NY (2008).