Kelani Nichole

The Networked Avant-Garde

Date 10/8/18

Affiliation Director, The Current, New York


The networked culture that emerged at the end of the 20th century introduced a generation of artists who employ open, distributed, virtualized, and highly collaborative techniques. Their studios are built on commercial software, CGI aesthetics, online public exhibition, and peer-to-peer sharing and critique. They simultaneously embrace and subvert technology as a means of interrogation, expressing humanist, non-binary, and decolonialized futures. In building a ‘Simulism’ movement, they reckon with Silicon Valley, the platforming and globalization of culture, global climate change, and technologies of power like artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

But the networked avante-garde face unique challenges – technology changes quickly and constantly; conservation and preservation practices are still being developed; critics and scholars have overlooked decades of pioneering work; collectors have been slow, so far, to acquire this type of work.

Despite these challenges, this avant-garde stands to significantly change what making and distributing art means in the century ahead. New networks of support have emerged in the form of artist-curated projects, experimental exhibitions, commissions, and residencies. Leading institutions, like The Whitney Museum of American Art and experimental museum models like The Current are developing new models of support for challenging variable media art.


Kelani Nichole is a design strategist and exhibition maker based in NYC. She consults for agile product teams and startups, and founded TRANSFER, an experimental exhibition space in Brooklyn, NY. Nichole specializes in challenging variable media artworks – she designs exhibitions in the home, gallery and art market contexts. In 2018 Nichole began serving as Director of The Current, a cooperative collection of contemporary media art that examines technology's impact on the human condition.

-- As of 10/8/18