“New Eelam” is a cloud-based digital subscription housing project offering ideal homes to footloose “global citizens” who practice high mobility, postpolitical utopianism, and minimalist interior design. This article uncovers the political and cultural significance of this dream of dematerialized existence in the work of the artist Christopher Kulendran Thomas. Mapping the dematerialization of the art object onto the dematerializations of cloud computing and minimalist lifestyles, this article addresses two ongoing series: When Platitudes Become Form (2012–) and New Eelam (2016–). First, it explores how New Eelam conscripts its public into imagining itself as the morally and aesthetically superior advance-guard of a new world order. Then, it uses Kulendran Thomas’s submerged invocation of the 1969 exhibition Live in Your Head. When Attitudes Become Form to analyze how this experiment in “digital realty” uses dematerialization to solicit urgent realizations about the relationships between the contemporary art market, mass migration, and geopolitical reality.
When Attitudes Become Platitudes, Live in the Cloud: Dematerialization in the Work of Christopher Kulendran Thomas
Sarah Hayden is associate professor of literature and visual culture at the University of Southampton and leads the AHRC Leadership Fellowship project “Voices in the Gallery” (www.voicesinthegallery.com). She is author of Curious Disciplines: Mina Loy and Avant-Garde Artisthood (2018) and coauthor (with Paul Hegarty) of Peter Roehr—Field Pulsations (2018).
Sarah Hayden; When Attitudes Become Platitudes, Live in the Cloud: Dematerialization in the Work of Christopher Kulendran Thomas. Cultural Politics 1 July 2020; 16 (2): 192–213. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/17432197-8233392
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