Ask Molly Soda how the internet has changed since she began creating her web-based works in the late-2000s and the Detroit-based creative will begin to harp on the olden days of cyberspace. “Things evolve so quickly,” the artist says, “and six real years can feel like 20 on here.” Estimating herself as “probably really old” in internet years, the artist reflects on the platform’s shift from complete and utter customisation towards its increasingly streamlined and regimented style of today. Gone are the days of Angelfire pages dripping in text art, glitter graphics and pixellated avatars created on Dollz Mania, as websites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter continue regulating just how much content can be personalised. This rapid evolution of all things web-based means that for Soda – whose work is primarily focuses on the digital – it is imperative that she can keep up.
“If I catch myself doing something embarrassing before someone else can then it’s okay” – Molly Soda
“The moment I post something and make it public, it becomes less of a big deal. All of a sudden I’m in control” – Molly Soda
“Comfort Zone” is the artist’s newest exhibition, and opening on 14 October at London’s Annka Kultys gallery, the show displays Soda’s ability to successfully maintain pace with whatever curveballs the internet may throw while still retaining some of the internet’s old glory. Serving as an extension of “From My Bedroom to Yours”, her solo show presented last November at the same location, the exhibition will follow a similar format that focuses on video-based works. However, while “From My Bedroom to Yours” focused on personal space and the transformation of private rooms into public areas, “Comfort Zone” is more concerned with the popular misconception that private areas are somehow a safe-haven guarding us from the public and digital noise. “The internet permeates our entire existence,” says Soda, much to the chagrin of tech-adversaries everywhere. “Even in private spaces, we’re still being bombarded with information and notifications on our phones.” In addition to her digital works, the exhibition explores this argument using printed versions of “very, very weird” emails the artist has received and selfies from her mobile phone.
Soda’s eagerness to create such vulnerable works is worthy of applause, though she shrugs it off casually by saying: “The moment I post something and make it public, it becomes less of a big deal. All of a sudden I’m in control, and if I catch myself doing something embarrassing before someone else can then it’s okay.” As someone who is constantly creating for the internet, she’s an equally avid consumer of its infinite content. Looking towards YouTube, her work is directly influenced by beauty tutorials (her favourite makeup vlogger is Kathleen Lights) and she enjoys viewing paint mixing clips for their therapeutic quality. As for Soda’s next artistic project, the creative is working on a book based on censored Instagram selfies with fellow artist Arvida Byström – a project that expertly blends the internet with IRL. We wouldn’t expect anything else.
“Comfort Zone” by Molly Soda is on display at London’s Annka Kultys gallery until 12 November 2016