Robots will undoubtedly rule over humanity someday, until then, let’s embrace our cybernetic counterparts with an educational trip to the museum. The MCA – at the time of this writing – is currently hosting an exhibit I Was Raised On The Internet, where visitors get the opportunity to experience a more digital lifestyle.

Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) is an innovative and compelling center of contemporary art where the public can experience the work and ideas of living artists, and understand the historical, social, and cultural context of the art of our time.” The MCA boasts an impressive variety of exhibits including workshops, talks, music events and screenings. Exhibits and all are regularly updated and  admission is generously free of charge to all Chicago residents on Tuesdays.

Photo: Oscar Perez

The Internet is a vast abyss of information, but, how does it fit into our everyday lives? The MCA explores Internet Culture and how it has evolved over time. Ever wonder why we started seeing lots of cats on the Internet? Internet memes exploded when people started posting photos and giving them a funny context. On display, a screen transitioned between multiple cat videos and cat memes are a popular trend, even to this day! A well-known example was that of Grumpy Cat, a perfectly timed photo of a grouchy looking feline followed by a snarky remark. Due to popular demand, Grumpy Cat went viral. 

Jon Rafman, Transdimensional Serpent, 2016. Oculus Rift VR headsets, custom-built personal computers, VR program (4 min, 30 sec), fiberglass, faux-leather, and LEDs; unique installation, 600 × 400 × 150 cm. Collection Majudia. MCA Chicago

Another display showcases Virtual Reality and how we utilize it today. For their demonstration, you were placed in the middle of an empty, round space. After sliding on the VR Headset the space around you instantly places you in our solar system, surrounded by planets.  Imagination not required because with virtual reality you can go anywhere in the world at any given time. And, this isn’t limited to just our world, you can even visit fictional fantasy settings! Today many films and video games offer VR content, including Google’s video streaming platform Youtube.

Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, Phantom (Kingdom of all the animals and all the beasts is my name), 2014–15. Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, Unity 3D forest scan, motion capture technology, and custom ceiling grid. Developed by ScanLab Projects, London. Courtesy of the artist. MCA Chicago

While we’re still on the topic of Virtual Reality, this next exhibit explores it on a different level. Second Life is an online virtual world where anonymity plays a major role. SL is an online role playing game where you assume any identity for your avatar and roam freely across open spaces. Imagine if you could be your favorite fictional character with the push of a button and place yourself in an endless fantasy world? In this world, you can go to the beach, visit an arcade, explore the ocean floor, get married, divorced and more!

Ultimately, this blew my mind.  I was shocked to hear people would dedicate their lives to these digital worlds. Yet, I was amazed by what we’ve accomplished in terms of social online infrastructure. I definitely recommend checking out the MCA and their many exhibits. 

Upcoming Party

Thursday, Aug 9th, 2018 @ Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

Join us Thursday, Aug 9 from 5:30 – 9pm for a fully immersive public event inspired by Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago‘s latest exhibit, “I Was Raised on the Internet,” and to celebrate the ongoing partnership between the MCA and Chicago Athletic Association hotel.

Hosted in the hotel’s Tank space, the event will feature art-inspired VR opportunities from Reality Bytes, and unique video games and artwork provided by VGA Gallery and Bit Bash, plus cash bar and live DJ set by CDVR. This event is complimentary with RSVP and open to the public. Entry is first-come, first-served and RSVP does not guarantee entry if capacity is reached.

RSVP: chicagoathleticevents.com/tc-events/mca-launch-party-i-was-raised-on-the-internet

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is one of the nation’s largest facilities devoted to art of our time, offering exhibitions of the most thought provoking art created since 1945. This summer, the MCA presents the landmark exhibition “I Was Raised on the Internet,” an immersive and participatory show examining the impact of the internet and how it has changed the way we experience the world. The exhibition presents a global range of artists working in new media such as Oculus Rift and platforms like Facebook and Snapchat, who examine the influence of gaming and entertainment, as well as social media and smart phones, on everyday life. “I Was Raised on the Internet” is on view now and runs until October 14, 2018.

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Oscar Perez is a young reporter from Little Village and a student of English Literature and Humanities at Northeastern Illinois University. He is currently part of Yollocalli’s radio and journalism program,“Your Story, Your Way!”

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