For nearly a decade, artist Julia Christensen has studied how “upgrade culture”—the perceived notion that we need to constantly upgrade our electronics to remain relevant––impacts our experience of time. The series of artworks as part of her project “Upgrade Available,” which includes drawing, photography, video, and installation, illuminate how the relentless upgrade impacts our personal lives, institutional archives and operations, and long-term scientific research.
In spring/summer 2020, LACMA Art + Tech Lab and ArtCenter Exhibitions will present an exhibition of the bodies of work in this project titled Julia Christensen: Upgrade Available. The exhibition follows the trajectory of Christensen’s ongoing endeavors at the intersection of art and technology, from an e-waste processing plant in India to her meetings with scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to discuss concepts that transcend obsolescence.
Christensen’s project is also documented in a forthcoming book, also titled Upgrade Available, published in May 2020 by Dancing Foxes Press. The book features Christensen’s writing interspersed with her artworks, and conversations between the artist and fellow artists Ravi Agarwal and Cory Arcangel; Lori Emerson, associate professor in the Department of English and the Intermedia Arts, Writing, and Performance Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder; Jessica Gambling, archivist at LACMA; Rick Prelinger, archivist and professor at UC Santa Cruz; Bobbye Tigerman, curator at LACMA; and linguist Laura Welcher, director of operations at The Long Now Foundation. The book has received advance praise from David Haskell, Jenny Odell, Paige Williams, Trevor Paglen, and more.