Once reserved to code wizards, the internet art scene has become more and more inclusive in the last decades with the emergence of customizable platforms, online video channels and creative editing apps. In fact, under the internet’s increasing influence on artistic contemporary practices, the term “post-internet art” emerged and entered the mainstream in recent years to define works that acknowledge the impact of the internet on contemporary culture following its emergence and adoption. One of the key players in the democratization of these new practices has undoubtedly been the free multimedia platform and social media New Hive; since its launch in 2012, it has fostered new trends and the creation of thousands of works, making the post-internet art scene available to anyone in just a few clicks.
As New Hive enables users to create, share and curate digital artworks on a single website as easy to use as Tumblr, it offers to potentially anyone equipped with a computer and internet connection both the tools to create post-internet art and the opportunity to become familiar with its trends and community. Considering its members as productive artists rather than anonymous users, it also creates a critical framework around post-internet art practices by engaging with the art world and contemporary society. Indeed, in addition to promoting works created by users, it regularly organizes open calls and commissions in partnership with organizations like Asylum Arts, the Goethe-Institut or more recently the Museum of the Moving Image for the production of LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner’s livestream anti-Trump project He Will Not Divide Us, which was cancelled by the Museum on February 10th due to the project’s controversial nature.
What makes New Hive’s role unique in the post-internet art scene is that it has succeeded in renewing with the enthusiasm Net Art expressed for the creative possibilities of the web in the 90’s while at the same time making them accessible to the widest audience possible in a 2.0 world. Back in 2013, Zach Verdin, one of the founders and CEO of the company, defined it in a interview for Tech Crunch as a “slow social media” that aimed at “creating something meaningful that takes more time and thought than just sharing an image”. Though Verdin made a risky bet by creating a publishing platform that worked at a “slow” pace in a technological landscape dominated by fast communication and mobile apps, it is precisely this approach that has enabled New Hive to build the inclusive and supportive community that the post-internet art scene lacked, collecting more than 10 million views of creations within a year after its public launch. Since the platform’s accessibility attracts users as diverse as teenagers, university professors or experienced artists, New Hive works range from abstract compositions to deeply personal ones, with many exploring the fluidity of on-line and off-line identities. A new generation of emerging and established feminist artists such as Molly Soda, Bryce Grates, Maisie Cousins, May Waver, Halenhallcisler or the hilarious Barbie 2000, for instance, use New Hive to explore themes of femininity and the body in the digital era through an ironic use of girly codes and aesthetics.
However, while New Hive’s role in opening up the post-internet art scene to a broader public is undeniable, its future remains unclear in a time when new apps and social media are created everyday while others disappear or are bought by larger corporations. But for now, New Hive feels pretty much like a land of the midnight sun in a minimalism-obsessed cyberspace - so we better enjoy it while it’s still here.
Written by Audrey Kadjar.
Featured image: Cecilia Antonelli - Me Irl: a fuck up Me online: a Fuck Up ™, screenshot. All images courtesy the author.