SOCIAL MEDIA SOLITUDE – Line Gulsett at the Torch Gallery, Amsterdam

Line Gulsett – Flipside, 2018, oil paint and raw-pigment on canvas, 200 x 150 cm

Presently showing at the Torch Gallery, Social Media Solitude is the continuation of an ongoing conversation of the effects of technology and how it has come to alter the mind of humanity and change the way we relate to one another as social beings.

Through her work, Line Gulsett suggests that our usage of social media has resulted in unsatisfying connections as we come to rely on the latter instead of taking the time to pursue genuine interaction with regards to our humanity. As the screen becomes the subject of our engagement, we find ourselves more and more isolated, conservation shifting to monologue, establishing an overall impression that we alone exist in the galaxy.

The artist expresses her concern of the effects this may generate, especially on the younger generation who no longer engage in play, so immersed they find themselves in this artificial reality. Using aluminum balloons as a motif for the celebration of youth, Gulsett’s juxtaposition of the latter to the faceless eerie figures drifting across the canvas reflects a process of mourning of her very own, as she comes to face with age the increasing demands of society.

While Gulsett’s insights bear no novelty, the artist’s usage of form and technique effectively conveys this estrangement, as well as the individual’s withdrawal from community. In the thin lines applied with lightness, yet conviction, one bears witness to Gulsett’s dissolving sense of self as the artist mentally removes herself from the realms of reality, desirous for a distant past, a state of innocence that can only be recovered through escapism and day dream.

In its engagement with this alternate corporality, the self is at once more aware of itself, yet looses itself entirely. Beyond the desire to construct an identity that adheres to the conventions of virtual reality, the distances created by physical space and the absence of body generate an awareness within the individual that any self to be perceived necessarily inherits of this virtual reality to constitute a personality that is secondary, if not other entirely.

Ultimately, while the artist’s feelings of isolation remain most real and find expression through her somber depictions of reality, Gulsett’s desire to compress the whole under an normative statement remains an overreach, for not only do many of the ideas posited are merely a repetition of dominant discourses around nature and human nature, but one can almost feel the forceful imposition of a political commentary that simply has no place, as exemplified through the sudden introduction of climate change, other than for the marketing’s sake.

In the end, the artist’s perceived need to create a narrative of the sort to ensure coherence reflects the rising expectations within contemporary society for art to carry beyond form and feeling, philosophy, ideology, and the artist’s own individuality, as mere brush stroke no longer seem to be enough for a canvas to be worthy.   Elaine Zheng   19th June 2019