Space Junk by Marisa Olson is a black, monochrome square painting like Malevich or Ad Reinhardt or Wade Guyton, but when you look closer, you can see that it’s not black – but a pattern of flickering stars whose aesthetic is appropriated from a web-native starfield wallpaper .gif (a now defunct trope of Web 1.0). The surface itself is wallpaper that Olson wallpapered onto a stretcher to make the monochrome painting.

So, there is a reference to an obsolete avant-garde painting style, as well as a reference to an obsolete Internet aesthetic.

When they combine, they each highlight each other’s obsolescence. Or, perhaps they highlight the fact of obsolescence.

Part of what Post Internet art had to do was get into contemporary art, which – on paper – seems do-able, but in practice is incredibly difficult. Contemporary art people look at contemporary art. They have a sense for work that is adding something they appreciate to their world and they have an even stronger sense for work that is not doing anything but wasting their time.

This painting is “art” because it tells me something about art, about obsolescence in art. It is art (without quotes) because it tells me something deeper, too. Memento Mori.

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