Ryan Kuo: Hateful Little Thing
Oct 27, 2021–May 24, 2022
Ryan Kuo’s online project Hateful Little Thing consists of text boxes that replicate and cover the pages of whitney.org, unfolding in a new sequence each time the work is launched. Conceived by the artist as a separate persona that expresses its frustrations without inhibition, the Hateful Little Thing inserts itself in the form of text snippets that overwrite the web pages and reflect Kuo’s encounters in online platforms, workplaces, and institutional settings.
Addressing the act of taking up “white space”—in the sense of both the white background of whitney.org and the structural whiteness of institutional power—the comments of the Hateful Little Thing highlight the complexities of hate, racism, and exclusion. The short texts allude to the erasures that take place in white space, talk back to the institution, engage its audience, and comment on the hypocrisies surrounding hatred, such as the insistence that hate has no place in society, even though it always existed.
Hateful Little Thing claims its rightful space by creating its own version of exhibition labels—typically used by museums to provide background information about artworks—alongside the other elements vying for the attention of visitors to whitney.org. The boxes are similar to the text label identifying the artist and title of Sunrise/Sunset projects, suggesting a reframing of the institutional text. The Hateful Little Thing makes its voice heard, demands attention, and refuses to leave, revealing experiences of having been misinterpreted, erased, or left out. With its insistent intrusions, it effectively manages to be both disruptive and poetic in exploring pressing issues of diversity and exclusion.
Ryan Kuo’s (b. 1982) works are process-based and diagrammatic and often invoke a state of argument. He has used videogame engines, web and UX design, chatbots, productivity software, and technical writing to produce circuitous and unresolved movements in which objects are explored with regard to their significance in the context of white supremacy. His work is distributed online at left gallery (Berlin); has appeared at Queens Museum (New York), bitforms gallery (New York), TRANSFER (Los Angeles), Stroom Den Haag (The Hague), Goethe-Institut China (Beijing), Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin), Goldsmiths (London), and Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts (Cambridge); and has been published in Artforum, Art in America, BOMB, and Rhizome. He received a Master of Science in Art, Culture and Technology from MIT and has recently been in residence at Pioneer Works (New York) and the Queens Museum Studio Program. Kuo lives and works in New York.
Sunrise/Sunset is a series of Internet art projects that mark sunset and sunrise in New York City every day. All are commissioned by the Whitney specifically for whitney.org, each project unfolding over a timeframe of ten to thirty seconds.
Using whitney.org as their habitat, Sunrise/Sunset projects disrupt, replace, or engage with the museum website as an information environment. This form of engagement captures the core of artistic practice on the Internet, the intervention in existing online spaces. The series is organized by Christiane Paul, adjunct curator of digital art at the Whitney Museum.
To see the current project, be anywhere on this website during sunrise or sunset.
See more on artport, the Whitney Museum's portal to Internet and new media art.