Gretta Louw

Empty Rooms

Multimedia / Digital Installation
Germany, Australia, 2011-2014

One revolutionary aspect of the internet and digital networks is that they give us the ability to be omnipresent. We may be simultaneously in our pyjamas at home whilst also following a lecture via social media or live streams in another hemisphere; we may live hours away from loved ones but still meet them, virtually, via video conferencing platforms on a regular basis and remotely participate in many aspects of their lives. Skype has become a fixed component of most people's professional and personal lives. Yet the connection is imperfect. The networks break down. Our conversation partners leave the computer to go to the bathroom, and we are left communing with a pixelated white wall. This installation is based on a series of unstaged screenshots, collected over several years, capturing moments in online video calls when the person steps out of the frame. What we see is a window, a moment in networked time where the connection remains but there is no one to connect to, and we are reminded that we are still corporeally bound; rooted in geography; staring at an interface; and yet the traces of intimacy remain.



Gretta Louw

Everybody Lies [On the Internet]

Networked performance
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 at 7pm, Mestna galerija Nova Gorica

A short description of your work: In the beginning the internet seemed, for many, to be an anonymous realm. A place where you could be anything and anyone, and the truth? Irrelevant. Chatroom users alternately fell for and were worried about imposters and fraudsters; email scams evolved into phishing; unbiased consumer reviews became contaminated with manufacturer-bought viral marketing; and dating sites and social media platforms offered a new territory for the dishonest and manipulative to invent new personas. Meanwhile, however, the internet is anything but anonymous as we are tracked, data mined, googled, cyberstalked and constantly analyzed by algorithms. And yet the platitude remains: everyone lies on the internet - the assumption being that the 'anonymity' and corporeal dislocation of the medium inherently encourages it. The question is though, is it any easier to lie online than offline? How is networked communication (which forms an increasingly large portion of most people's total interpersonal contact) altered by this underlying conviction that the medium itself breeds dishonesty. In this performance, Gretta Louw will attempt to converse and interact via online video conferencing with the live audience in Nova Gorica, without letting a single truth escape. What is truth and what is fiction, how much can we really hide - or how much truth is visible despite the lies, how easy is a lie, how has today's internet environment morphed from its 'anonymous' inception, and how important is belief or truth to an interpersonal connection?

Gretta Louw

Gretta Louw is a multi-disciplinary artist working predominantly with digital media and networked performance, whose practice explores the potential of art as a means of investigating cultural and psychological phenomena, particularly in relation to new technologies and the internet. Louw was born in South Africa but grew up in Australia; she received her BA in 2001 from the University of Western Australia and Honors in Psychology in 2002, subsequently living in Japan and New Zealand before moving to Berlin in 2007. In recent years she has received a number of grants from German and Australian funding bodies, participated in residencies in Australia, Israel, and the US. Her work has been exhibited widely - in New York, Berlin, Jakarta, and Tel Aviv, amongst others - including in a number of public institutions and museums such as the Kunstmuseum Solothurn, Stadtgalerie Mannheim, and Kunstverein Ludwigshafen. In 2012 she released her first book, Controlling_Connectivity: Art, Psychology, and the Internet, followed in 2013 by Warnayaka Art Centre: Art in the Digital Desert, and in 2014 her first catalogue Works 2011-2014 / Arbeiten 2011-2014. She lives and works in Germany and Australia