arebyteLASER was an exhibition and project space in Clerkenwell, the sister space of arebyte Gallery.

Running from March until September 2017, arebyteLASER programmed hotel generation ‘17, which aimed to provide a platform for emerging artists to engage with experimental projects and ideas.

With fast paced exhibitions, hotel generation ‘17 endeavoured to encompass established ties with technology and new media work, in addition to promoting juxtapositions with sculpture, installation and performance. Themes of overconsumption, shifting cultural narratives and the means of producing work in an overactive time, were explored throughout the programme and led to a new way of understanding artistic needs and requirements in the form of an artist development programme: hotel generation.

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Maybe it’s about this...
by Rebecca Edwards

It’s early 2017 and financial anxiety, increasing rent prices, job insecurity and general desperation is rife. You’re a cultural nomad, the embodiment of a standardised perception of someone your age, and you don’t like the idea of staying in one place (mentally or physically) for very long. You’re at a point of dithering and your agitated state of uncertainty breeds a trembling in your movements and your senses, resulting in the application of chaos just so you can understand which way round your t-shirt should be. You’re an emotional wreckage of a human shell, motivated equally by the fear of failure and the abhorrent need to be something better.

Taking its starting point from the idea of a city-takeover; a series of small residencies by artists from different cities, Hotel Generation looked at the conundrum of the 89plus generation[1] in relation to the critical essay, Network Fatigue, written by Pablo Larios in 2014[2]. hotel generation focused on emerging talent, born around 1989, to consider how they react to the extreme present, and how this might go someway into determining the future of exhibition making and the new idea of collective ownership, or collective authorship.

In the time of an information-overload, it can be difficult to attain to a certain method of working without distraction - time is becoming an evermore lucid term with the influx of the 24 hour working day and the obligation to be reachable at any time. This is not new, however - resisting the homogenisation of time is a difficult point to consider when we delve into contemporary accelerationism, which maintains that things must get worse before they can get better, and posthastism[3] which describes the opposite. Nicholas Carr questioned how we can resist this need to be "on-call" with a series of rules, including tweeting about things that happened a month ago. But if contemporary accelerationism pushes towards a future that is more modern, by reverting to the past are we challenging the problem or simply allowing it to manifest itself in different ways? When did the future become the present?

“...now suddenly, right now actually is the future. What we’re inhabiting is no longer in the distance anymore but in this state of very, very profoundly accelerating flux. And it’s not going to stop, you can’t take a break from it, even something as simple as not using your device for a weekend, nothing's going to work. Technology is not going to take a holiday.”[4]

The idea art allowing us to “slow down" and take time to appreciate culture, history and ideas (amongst other often didactic and prescriptive elements) is no longer a valid point. Online galleries and online exhibitions are now more than ever being utilised, either due to being able to be relatable to newer and greater audiences or through lack of funding, with artists able to work collaboratively although they may be miles apart. This idea of an estranged pen-pal, where conversations and dialogues happen without the need for real-life interaction, occur throughout the art world but also in every day life; users of Tinder change to Bumble, and contact each other via their Facebook story or Instagram DM, linking to Snapchat and Tweeting relentlessly.

Within these (semi)borderless platforms we relentlessly search for an agency which is fragile and mostly constructed, and we stretch the ideas of relationships in order to reconstruct ourselves virtually - we are at once both public and private. We are inundated with mixed messages and our lives are now more than ever being mediated through a screen; immediate, HD ready and fleeting. Everything is connected and everyone is connected. Not only does this put added pressure on a generation already expected to live up to their baby-boomer parents, who prevailed after economic depression and security uncertainty, but also to exceed their achievements singlehandedly and without moaning about how difficult it is. As Isabelle Stengers says, if the art of paying attention must be reclaimed, what matters is to begin by paying attention to the manner in which we are capable of escaping it[5].

The artists chosen for Hotel Generation were asked to approach the exhibition period to instigate a slowness which might otherwise not be present - the slowing of time through displacement is proposed as a strategy to impede capitalistic modes of production. The series of (contradictory) fast paced exhibitions acted as a disassociated group show; a succession of solo or duo exhibitions which formed chapters in the programme. The aim was to cast a net(work) out from the Capital to draw in regional voices, forming a meta-narrative for the programme which in turn tapped into these sub-networks prevalent in other cities. Interestingly, the word hotel is derived from the French hôtel (coming from the same origin as hospital), which referred to a building providing care, rather than a place offering accommodation. If nothing else, the artists in Hotel Generation were cared for as friends, professionals and co-workers and that can only be a good thing.

"At the moment we don't know which will triumph: the individual or the mob. It might be the biggest question of the century.”[6]

1 those born in, or after, 1989 as the first digitally native generation in history
2 https://frieze.com/article/network-fatigue
3 a term used by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Shumon Basar and Joseph Grima
4 Douglas Coupland from: http://www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/24283/1/inside-the-age-of-earthquakes
5 Taken from In Catastrophic Times: Resisting the Coming Barbarism (2015) by Isabelle Stengers
6 Taken from The Age of Earthquakes: A Guide to the Extreme Present by Shumon Basar, Douglas Coupland and Hans Ulrich Obrist