On Monday, luxury lifestyle website Amuse published an interview with Petra Cortright, in which she used the term “gentrification” to describe how the internet is now less weird.
“I think the internet is becoming this really gentrified place,” the LA-based digital artist told writer Iona Goulder. “Today’s forms of social media feels more like people’s personal brands. Now it’s just people promoting their shit constantly and it makes stuff on the internet less weird. Everything feels more censored.”
Boosted by the interview’s SEO-driven headline — ”Petra Cortright on the Gentrification of the Internet” — the story circulated through my social feeds this week, eventually provoking a dust-up within some of my internet art circles. Cortright is among the increasing number of artists whose practices were shaped by the surf club era and who have gained bricks-and-mortar gallery representation and Rhizome cataloguing, so an overarching criticism of her statement stemmed from the perceived entitlement of an early internet user. There is an enduring fondness that borders on immaterial fetishization for a time when the internet was this unfettered, non-indexed boon of online amateur cultural production.