The 26th of October, I visited the symposium that was part of the launch of Net.Specific at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Roskilde, Denmark.
Net.Specific is an exhibition website for net-based art. The first exhibition, Communication Paths, is curated by Tina Mariane Krogh Madsen (an announcement was posted here earlier).
The exhibition includes the artists:0100101110101101.ORG / Eva & Franco Mattes (I), JODI (B/NL), Michelle Teran (CA), Jens Wunderling & Philipp Bosch (DE) and Anders Bojen & Kristoffer Ørum (DK).
The director of the museum, Sanne Kofod Olsen, opened the symposium, and Tina Mariane Krogh Madsen gave an introduction to Net.Specific and presented the idea behind the project. See the rest of the program here.
I was first expecting the opportunity to explore the Net.Specific exhibition at place. According to their idea, however, this type of exhibition is meant to be experienced in front of your own computer at home. I think they have a point there. I have seen some exhibitions, where you try to present net-art in a traditional gallery space. Unfortunately, this rarely works very well, for one thing the visitors tend to use the Internet-connected computer for other things like, checking the timetable instead of experiencing the artwork itself. These art-works have a life of their own on the Internet and don’t always fit inside the frame of a gallery space. An art-work of this genre cannot just be lifted out of it’s context and re-placed in a physical space, like a sculpture for instance. It has to be reconsidered and thought of differently.
As a net-art based exhibition takes place on the net, this is also the context through which it should be explored. The artworks have their own domains and exist outside of the Museum’s website. In this case, the museum’s is more of a platform that presents, promotes and highlights each artwork. Its role is more of a guide that provides the visitors with information about the artists and their works.
I believe museums, as well as curators, art historians and other critics, play an important role in writing books and reviews, or in other ways documenting this specific art genre, since the Internet is transient and the artworks thereby also tend to have a shorter lifetime. It can be hard, or even impossible, for the artist to keep on updating the work along with the fast development progress of browsers, computers, new platforms etc. Some of the early pioneers’ works can today only be seen if you install an emulator; a software that acts like an old system and computer. Some works have even vanished. Agatha Appears, a work by the pioneer Olia Lialina, from 1997, was restored in 2008 to function on a more modern browsers. Read more about the restoration here.
But let’s return to the launch of Net.Specific. There was one work we actually could experience – Jodi’s ZYX. Their work was presented as a performance in which the audience turned out to be the actual performers. I was one of the volunteers. The artists had made an iPhone app, where you had to follow the instructions on the screen. For instance, one instruction could be “turn left 10 times”. In order to move forward, you had to execute the instructions in the right way. If you didn’t, or where too slow, the app would ask you to start over and redo that specific task.
The app uses the built-in camera and the sensors in the iPhone. After each achievement, the app presents pictures taken during the specific task. As you focus more on the task itself than on where you point your camera, you’ll receive a quite uncontrolled animation of your surrounding.
On the website you can read a correspondence between Jodi and apple store.
Jodi stands for Joan Heemskerk (NL) and Dirk Paesmans (BE). They started working with the Internet as an art form already in 1994, which makes them pioneers within this particular genre.
Another duo in the exhibition, who are also pioneers, is 0100101110101101.ORG. They’ve worked with the Internet since 1996.
For the Net.Specific exhibition they had produced the artwork, Emily’s Video. The work deals with how a video can be spread and distributed on the Internet by rumours. You never get the possibility to see the actual video of Emily, but can only choose between several videos of people watching it. Through their reactions you can tell that it is not a pleasant video. The impression it leaves you with is that this is a kind of video that shouldn’t be distributed around the net. The work is exists on Youtube.
Behind 0100101110101101.ORG is Eva & Franco Mattes from Italy.
Visit Net.Specifics website to explore the artworks and read more about them.