Uncommon Gallery, Seoul

Feb 20th - Mar 5th 2024

The rise of a mass market for digital artifacts has intensified technostalgia for early personal computers and video games. At a time when blue-chip assets are now defined by 8-bit aesthetics, screensavers are ripe for re-examination not least because their characteristic still and looping cyberscapes make for quintessential crypto art. Recently, they have also been consigned to the same dustbin as JPEGs and the wider class of poor images that test acceptability as contemporary art. 

But more than aesthetic interludes, screensavers originally solved the problem of screen burn-in on CRT (cathode ray tube) and plasma monitors. For this reason, they held a functional purpose that no longer applies in the same way. They also served as exercises in code-based creation rather than images for traditional contemplation. Artists who choose to engage with screensavers as a genre or concept are therefore challenging old hierarchies while advancing an alternative canon of born-digital art. 

Of the creators participating in this emergent enterprise –– born of a grassroots appeal to the Web3 community –– a number explore the browser as an imperfect filter for online experience. Others play with the familiar repertoire of skeuomorphs: icons, trash cans, and nested windows whereby analog experience was once reimagined for cyberspace. At a time when Web2’s centralized architecture continues to extract data and exploit communities, these artists reinforce the lingering value of Web1 in Web3.

–– Alex Estorick

Co curated by @aljaparis and @UnknownCo123

Text by @AlexEstorick

Poster: @sashastiles

Partners: @ainetwork_ai @UncommonGallery @aeonstudioverse @joynxyz