Academic journal article Afterimage

Bit by Bit

Academic journal article Afterimage

Bit by Bit

Article excerpt




JUNE 23-SEPTEMBER 10, 2005

The concept of Internet-based art has changed since it first emerged in the early 1990s. Some artists who early on began exploring the possibilities of the Internet initially rebelled against the idea of having their work shown in a museum or gallery as they intended to bypass that filter of distribution in order to have a direct discourse with their audience. Now, artists are no longer so adamant about what Internet art should and should not be, and no longer do many snub an invitation to participate in a museum or gallery-based exhibition when the opportunity becomes available.

Organized by's current director Lauren Cornell and former director Rachel Greene with the assistance of Kevin McGarry, the exhibition "Rhizome ArtBase 101" culled forty works from's ArtBase, a database of some 1500 computer-based works. ArtBase, which was launched in 1999, was originally developed as an archive for Net art projects but since has expanded its scope to include other forms of new media art, such as software art, computer games, and Web-based documentation of installation and performance works. The curators' goal was to present prominent themes within Internet art that have appeared in the past ten years. They describe these as Dirt Style, Net Cinema, Games, E-Commerce, Data Visualization and Databases, Online Celebrity, Public Space, Software Art, Cyberfeminism, and Early Net.Art.

The first piece the visitor encountered in the exhibition was Paul Slocum's Dot Matrix Synth (2003), which uses an obsolete reprogrammed Epson LQ-500 dot matrix printer to create music while simultaneously creating "ghost-like" printouts. As one partook in the invitation to "push buttons to rock out," even the most unmusical of people could become genius music makers. Slocum explains the mechanism on his site: "The printer creates sound from the print head firing pins against the paper and the vibration of the stepper motor driving the print head back and forth. To generate different notes, the software adjusts the frequency of the printing press." (1)


A few of the works in the exhibition have been turned into expanded installation pieces such as Nike Ground (2003) by the collective known as and extreme animalz: the movie; part 1 (2005) by Paper Rad and Matt Barton. Extreme animalz was one of the most memorable pieces in the exhibition. The assemblage-like installation of appropriated animal imagery, both physical and digital, can only be described as perverse eye candy because it is one of the most hilarious yet disgusting collections of toy animals and other objects (such as pink flamingos) found at thrift stores juxtaposed with animated GIFs of animals appropriated from the Internet through Google's image search engine. The creators of the piece also installed a sensor, so as the viewer approaches the mammoth collage of animal imagery, the animals propel into repetitive cycles of motion much like the animated GIFs found on the Internet--sometimes jolting the surprised onlooker. Nike Ground presents documentation of a "prank" played on the people of Vienna, Austria. released false information that Karlsplatz, one of Vienna's main public squares, was reportedly being renamed Nikeplatz, and that a giant "swoosh" sculpture modeled after Nike's recognizable logo was going to be erected in the public square. Utilizing a Web site and other tactical media strategies, the collective outraged both the people of Vienna and Nike. The purpose of the project was to create a performance-based social commentary on the potentially intrusive nature of corporate advertising in public spaces. Documentation within the gallery exhibition included a humorous six-minute video documenting the "project." Beside the video hangs a representation of the artist's rendering of the proposed "swoosh" sculpture in Karlsplatz. …

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