is this art?

Crop Up Gallery Presents…

Is This Art?: How the Internet Disrupted the Art World


‘Is this Art?: How the Internet Disrupted the Art World’ is an exploration of artistic expression in the age of the online. Featuring a range of mediums, this exhibition guides viewers through the increasingly virtual artistic landscape that has been developed through the rise of image-sharing platforms. Every artwork displayed presents a unique perspective on the contemporary artscape, encouraging confusion, critique and conversation.


Mocking the age-old question ‘what is art?’, this exhibition combines aspects of cyber-culture with the classical artistic canon to explore the ever-widening disparity between so-called ‘traditional’ works and the contemporary, internet-influenced art world. The varied creations of both artists and self-proclaimed non-artists explore this clouded notion of artistic legitimacy, placing innovation at the forefront of their practices.




Shively Humperdink, #37, 2018.

Little is known about video creator Shively Humperdink. #37 is a mystical, gruesome and comedic piece that forms part of their ongoing video series Shively’s Dream Chasm, which can be found on Instagram.




Joshua Roland, SELFIE 39,000,000, 2019 and SELFIE I&II, 2018.

Joshua Roland is a visual artist, graphic designer, musician, and video game developer living in Nottingham, UK. She works primarily in the digital, creating uncanny imagery and crafting bleak, obscure narratives soundtracked by harsh, distorted audio to explore the grotesque. Her previous works include the album ‘no’ as frontwoman of the noise-punk duo ‘Self Love’, and the lo-fi nightmare adventure game ‘WRONGED’.

Watch SELFIE I&II, 2018, below. Please be warned this video contains flashing images and loud noise.



Milly Cooke, u don’t like my instagram, u don’t like me, 2018.

Milly Cooke is not an artist, however much she would like to be one. She discovered she could not draw very well whilst studying textiles and instead of letting that be a negative, let it play to her advantage. She uses illustration apps on her phone to create her art and pushes the idea that you in no way have to be ‘good’ or ‘successful’ in the arts in order to be classified as an ‘artist’. These illustrated selfies call us to question how likes on social media more often than not transpire into likes in everyday life, whether we realise it or not. Milly studies History of Art at the University of Nottingham and is currently the vice director or Crop Up Gallery.



Frances  Whorrall-Ca, Glass (Green and Blue), 2017.

Frances Whorrall-Campbell’s practice is influenced by her training in both the fine arts and history. She spent time working under the artist-duo Broomberg & Chanarin and was influenced by their tongue-in-cheek approach to historical material and narratives. Her practice may be seen as a kind of history-writing, an attempt to make the objects and stories of the past live again in our culture’s present amnesia. Frances seeks to challenge the boundaries between media as well as disciplines, working across text, video, drawing and sculptural installation.



Rosie Mills Eckmire, The End of Home (excerpt) #1. 2018, The End of Home (excerpt) #2, 2018, and If Art Can Be Anything…, 2017.

…is an artist-ish. Based in Croydon, London.



Shannon-Lea Stevenson, Requiem for a Meme, 2019.

Shannon-Lea Stevenson is a third year Fine Art student based in Derby. She focuses on making art that potentially excludes the traditional ‘fine art audience’ but is inclusive of groups of people usually dismissed by the art world. Currently, she explores memes and their importance as a modern day language and as a timeline of current ideals, trends and events. She also play with other themes such as the irony of painting in the digital age and humour in art.



Sam Riley, Hallward drone 1 (~11′), Hallward drone 2 (~9′), 2017.

Sam Riley is an admirer of Hallward Library, where he has spent most of his adult life attempting to revise. His audio pieces were both composed on site at Hallward Library and constructed entirely through the manipulation of one sample. The manipulated waveforms that make Hallward drone 1 (~11′) originate from the sound of a book slamming against a desk. Hallward drone 2 (~9′) is made using the same techniques, this time utilising the sound made by flicking an empty coffee cup. His work is enjoyed best through headphones.

@eel_merchant, Michaelangelo’s Rave-id, 2018, Cancelled Planet, 2018 and Real Friends, 2019.

Harvey Butterfield (working under the Instagram username @eel_merchant) is a Manchester based digital artist and meme practitioner with a focus on détournement and sociopolitical commentary, often employing a self-deprecating and socially critical tone. Sometimes they’re just funny. Internet culture is a driving force and influence of their work; originally honing their design skills in the online forums of the early 2000’s, producing commissions in exchange for the in-game currency of various online videogames.

Having reached multiple millions of people with a single post on numerous occasions, they consider the meme to have huge potential for social influence and self expression; as a constantly evolving medium with an extremely low barrier to entry and an almost limitless audience.



@virginalvigilante, 1-7, 2018.

Virginalvigilante is a memer whose practice addresses the interacting/overlapping material and digital domains of cultural identity. Via the varied magics and mediums of digital aesthetics (IoT, interfaces, image macros, text, code etc) cultural forms/modes can be transformed and transposed. Memes specifically, being easily-accessible, widely-disseminated and mutative, can help to build digital ‘events’ that criticise and corrode dominating narratives and their iron grip on the cultural industry. Virginalvigilante’s memeing is informed by their queerness and Mauritian-Australian multiraciality – the relation between contemporaneous sexual politics and post-colonial African and South Asian diaspora – and a desire to produce new, non-essentialist imaginaries and cultures outside the purview of whiteness. Piece by piece, meme by meme, they aim to rewrite their own and their audiences form/s and spirit/s, posing the question; ‘To what extent can a queer, brown body/avatar transfigure and rewrite linguistic and cultural matrices?’



Through these links are two audio pieces composed by Sam Riley. Please listen along while visiting the exhibition. Headphones recommended.


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