9 January - 26 February 2020
Works by Tara Kelton
Curated by Skye Arundhati Thomas
Self-portraiture is performance. In the 21st century, it is an elaborate daily exercise, where we spend a majority of our time producing and performing ourselves online. With the ubiquity of intelligent algorithms, this self-production is being tracked, manipulated and mined by our data leakages. These data spillages, algorithmic traces, and accidental selfies hacked by AI, are the 'algo-portraits'. In a show combining video, drawing, painting and digital work, Tara Kelton both critiques and produces the 'algo-portrait'.
Where the selfie performs, the algo-portrait doesn’t lie. It is the logical end to representational identity politics: erased of nuance and obsessed with categories. The algo-portrait is composed of datasets, and used by big corporations to sell us things in the accelerated, globalised international market. But the algo-portrait is not just the tool of an efficient capitalism: considering the evidence presented at the Cambridge Analytica trials, our algo-portraits now endanger the democratic method. In present day India, they are the manner by which we are presented with misinformation every single day, and they are also how we are routinely surveilled. These datasets are political, as are the portraits they create. In a political moment of inspired revolution, it has become more important than ever to find new ways of understanding the data trails we leave behind.
The algo-portrait is the result of a “hard” kind of data: algorithms make suggestions based on tracked behaviour – they get smarter and learn faster as we produce more data, and as we feed them with our online presence. This is the opposite of the self as performance, or the self as produced: you can’t cheat the code. In a show that reflects on this dead end of identity politics, Tara Kelton shape shifts the algo-portrait through a series of new works. With a keen critical and intellectual fascination with algorithms, big data and surveillance, the show brings together works and discourse on the failings of portraiture, both digital and IRL.
Tara Kelton is an Indian-American artist based in Bangalore, India. Tara's work considers the traditional figure of the artist (and craftsperson) in relation to the digital. Working in a variety of media she reflects on the diminishing role of the human in contemporary society (replaced by automation, AI and digital mediation) and the remote algorithmic control of labour by western bodies and corporations. Tara is co-editor of the publishing series Silicon Plateau.
Tara has exhibited internationally at the ZKM Karlsruhe; ICA Singapore; Queens Museum of Art; Vox Populi; Franklin Street Works; GallerySKE; Clark House Initiative; The Centre for Internet and Society; New Digital Art Biennale; or-bits.com; and the Kochi Muziris Biennale. Her work has appeared in Artforum, ID Magazine, rhizome.org, Platform Magazine, Arts Illustrated, Vogue, and Shifter. She received her BFA from Parsons the New School for Design and her MFA from the Yale University School of Art.
Skye Arundhati Thomas
Skye Arundhati Thomas is a writer and editor based in Mumbai, India. She regularly writes for artforum, Frieze, e-flux, ArtReview, ArtMonthly and others. Her work pays special attention to contemporary art, culture and the multiple histories of the Indian Subcontinent. She is contributing editor at the London-based arts and literary journal The White Review, where she commissions and edits both non-fiction and fiction writing, as well as artworks, primarily by contributors from South Asia and the Diaspora. In her own fiction practice she is interested in vulnerability, portraiture and tenderness.