edited by Lauren Cornell, Ed Halter – Mass Effect | Art and the Internet in the Twenty-First Century


MIT Press, ISBN-13: 978-0262029261, English, 528 pages, 2015, USA

Revamping a well-known series of critical anthologies after a few years of limbo, The New Museum and MIT Press have jointly released a new book, and selecting one of the most contemporary issues to engage with. Edited by Lauren Cornell, former Executive Director at Rhizome, and Ed Halter, founder of Light Industry, Mass Effect attempts to construct a relevant discourse around internet-related art since 2002, when it started to become somewhat more popular, but also more enigmatic than in its heroic nineties period. The various uncertain definitions, such as post-internet and new aesthetics, are all present but there’s also a more recognizable trait that emerges. Among the forty contributors, quite a few have worked or collaborated with Rhizome, and others have been extensively reported, discussed, or just been part of its larger ‘family,’ including the participants at a few seminal conferences transcribed in the book. The whole book has a clear closeness to the historical online platform (to the extent that it is almost an unofficial Rhizome book), This also reflects the majority of US-based contributors, placing it closer to the national contemporary art system than to the more academic and political European perspective. This is the first book extensively covering this territory and the selection of texts are distinctly accurate, consisting of commissioned texts and significant reprints, including the famous Claire Bishop ‘accident’ with subsequent steps. It’s a reference, then, useful and informative, that will have a special place in any internet art bibliography.