From our friends at Canadian Art, today we bring you a feature on the Toronto-based artist Lorna Mills. Author Simon Lewsen (@SimonLewsen) notes, “The intensity of Mills’ art is rooted not just in the proliferation of images but also in their strange choreography.” This article was originally published on July 1, 2015.
In the fall of 2014, Lorna Mills, the Toronto-based net artist, was exhibiting at Dubai’s Zayed University and struggling to appease the censors. She couldn’t show work with images of masturbation, women humping blowup dolphins, or men sticking their dicks into trumpet bells—hefty restrictions for an artist like Mills. One of her pieces featured an image of John Lennon and Yoko Ono during their 1969 bed-in. The official at Zayed hemmed and hawed—“They’re fully dressed, but they are in bed”—and eventually accepted the work on the grounds that the characters are married.
Mills’ art is exuberantly raunchy, but so is much of the internet. Her medium—the graphic interchange format, or GIF, a lightweight digital motion-picture technology—is about as old as the World Wide Web itself. She sources the footage for her hyperactive collages from user-moderated forums like Reddit, troll caves like 4chan, humor sites featuring bloopers from porn films (called pornfails), and oddball Russian domains that are teeming with nasty internet detritus. “Russian sites are really bad, by which I mean really good,” says Mills. Her collages feature grainy images of humans and animals, all of them moving (read: breathing, gesticulating, fucking) in jerky, repetitive motions. She disseminates her work mostly through electronic platforms, including Google Plus, social-networking application Ello, and Digital Media Tree, an eclectic blog operated by New York programmer Jim Bassett.