Brad Troemel organized the exhibition 'The Social Life of Thing' at Showroom MAMA.
MAMA's last exhibition in 2011 consists of a series of events, websites and objects that have been brought together by the young American artist Brad Troemel (USA, 1988). The main theme of the exhibition is how information and objects spread within people's networks - both on the Internet and in real life.
The Internet offers entirely new opportunities for social organisation. Consider the power of blogging and reblogging, for instance, or one-on-one mass communication via Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Brad Troemel examines how images and objects change their meaning when they are collectively worked on by a group of people spread across the globe.
In this exhibition, the artist will be presenting three websites that he developed in collaboration with ‘creative technologist' Jon Vingiano (USA, 1985). The website Blind Mist allows visitors to add URLs to the site menu. It subsequently extracts every image found at these URLs and publishes them in random order on its own homepage.
Troemel and Vingiano will be making two new works for The Social Life of Things: Surf Cave and a Tumblr page. Surf Cave is a group that makes use of Google Chrome. People can join Surf Cave by creating a personal account. The Surf Cave homepage subsequently publishes all images that have been viewed via the members' personal accounts. The second website that was created especially for this exhibition is a Tumblr page, for which Vingiano and Troemel have developed a custom algorithm. This algorithm is able to make informed guesses regarding which posts are likely to become popular on Tumblr. These posts are then copied to the artists' own page, so that statistically speaking, it has a strong chance of ultimately becoming the most popular Tumblr page in the world.
A more tangible contribution to the exhibition is formed by a series of works based on Silk Road, an anonymous online marketplace that uses Tor software. Thanks to the anonymity provided by this software, all actions on the Internet are concealed from monitoring and analysis. It is no longer possible to identify individual IP addresses. Silk Road sellers offer both contraband (weapons, serial killers and heroin) and legal goods and services (software, garden furniture). Together with Ben Schumacher (USA, 1986) and Artie Vierkant (USA, 1986), Brad Troemel acquired a number of services and objects from this marketplace that will be presented as an installation in The Social Life of Things. As such, the hidden social network Silk Road will be coming above ground in MAMA.
Troemel's final contribution to The Social Life of Things is a number of master classes and guest lectures that he will be giving in various degree programmes of the Willem de Kooning Academy and the Piet Zwart Institute, CrossLab and Fine Art. On 1 November, the artist will give a public lesson at Rotterdam's Willem de Kooning Academy.
Brad Troemel (USA, 1988) is a graduate student in the Master's programme of New York University's Faculty of Arts. Troemel started his career as a photographer for the international youth magazine Vice. He caught the international eye with his Tumblr page Jogging. On Jogging, Troemel translated Vice's familiar visual language into hundreds of images in the idiom of fine art. The artist's instruction to pass a photo of Barbra Streisand's home from hand to hand transformed the image into a performance. Photoshop collages like the one featuring an inflatable travel pillow draped around a totem pole became sculpture. Although still young, Troemel has already become a much sought-after public speaker, writer and visual artist.