This is Public Space : Capacity by Hannah Black


UP Projects Website

Image by Hannah Black, a film still from Capacity

Earlier this year public art platform UP Projects began traversing the most public art space of all: the world-wide-web, with its 'This Is Public Space' series. Sure, they were not the first to explore the public art possibilities this so-called 'unregulated' sphere holds, but the London art platform did begin to make headway with their approach to commissioning art that is exclusively born in and for the internet.

It probably requires to think about what 'art' in this context actually means, particularly as its online form, by nature, loses many of its 'art' attributes. It cannot be bought (not in the standard sense of the term at least), it cannot be curated in a space (again, accepted understanding of curation practices applies here too), and it lives in its totality in the realms of pixels, codes and handlebars. All these slightly warped properties assigned to web art begin to hold less importance in a sphere where 'public art' practices have become key to justifying art practices all together.

The third project commissioned for UP Projects' online gallery platform, is Hannah Black's 'Capacity'. Black looks at the uses of MDMA for military purposes and expands it to the idea of our mildly sedated society. The drug is known to have been given to American soldiers fighting in Afghanistan to prevent post traumatic stress, as well as to child and teen fighters in various civil wars across African countries. It is also known to have been given to victims of physiological harm caused by painful and disorienting events such as sexual assault, car accidents and fires. 'Capacity' looks at how the concept of trauma has become a kind of universal solvent in which perpetrator and victim, counter-culture and hegemonic violence are dissolved. And what better place to explore such global ideas than the universal platform of the internet.