WEB PROJECTS no.12


Apsolutno
Absolute Sale
1997
With dark humour and an unbearable lightness, Apsolutno launches a virtual auction of lots from the former Easter Block countries. It all seems to go fine as we read the rules of the auction which are plain and clear, follow the instructions, choose a method of payment. At one point however, we find out that the items for sale are human individuals, mostly artists from this region. The sale of being is indeed an "absolute" one...

Once a street sign with word HUMAN (in English and in the language of the country from which the "lot" comes from) inscribed into it appears in the middle of the screen, and then there is the map of Europe always present as a big reality full of questions. The silent, unchangeable, expressionless image of the map acts as a sponge silently absorbing the information about the lots and other sales details from a separate window in which the auction is taking place. As the information in the auction window accumulates, the map invisibly turns from receiver into transmitter, confronting us by simply being there, sending unwritten questions and messages toward us. The map, motionless, hangs onto the screen as a constant, pending reality and becomes imbued with meanings. Its initial weightlessness transforms into a significant weight thrown into the hands of the viewer. Its silence becomes a wake-up call. Viewed in the context of Absolute Sale, the words, "I've never seen the face and that's what I have always wanted. I've never seen the face and that's what I fear the most." (found in the About section for the Apsolutno collective) sound as an alarming signal pointing at the Internet as a yet-unexplored magnifying glass through which we can view reality in new, revealing ways that can find us unprepared.

The use of cold, to-the-point words is kept throughout the whole project, including in the identifications/descriptions of the lots. With the presence of only two visual signs (the map and the street sign), this overall controlled rendering prevents the project of falling into a higher doze of dramatization to which the idea of the project is susceptible. Furthermore, the "lots" are semi-fictitious characters, who are artists from the Former Eastern-Block. Buyers need not worry because they will not have to face their purchase until after twenty years because most of the "lots" are born in 2001 and will not be available until they reach the age of eighteen. The clever net.art kind of shift in handling this identity/non-identity saves the project from sinking into self-indulgence and cynicism.

Absolute Sale revolves around the issues of divided/united Europe and points critically at ideas, ideologies and geopolitical and economic aspirations which are taken as absolutes and leave no room for human identity. From a post-totalitarian, post-communist, ex-Eastern Block perspective, the artists are questioning not only absolutes but also the sales activities spread over the Internet space. A particular battleground of interests and beliefs, the Internet is revealed in this project as a critical tool and as a mediator, balancing between destructive tendencies of globalization on the one hand and ethnocentrism on the other. The destructive tendencies are those which disconnect the individual from his humanity that is embodied in an identity anchored in life.

Within the framework of the "auction", there is also a post-net.art-ex-Eastern-European vision to the work. As Lev Manovich brilliantly points out in Artmargins , "Roundtable Ten Years After": "As it turned out, these countries have something to contribute to this global society in a few areas: new consumer markets, cheap labor, superbly trained musicians and sportsmen (in the case of Russia), and millions of "Internet brides" who would marry anybody just to leave the East. However, in the area of the arts, the long-term isolation of the East from the West has had a negative effect. As a result, its art turned to be by and large excluded from a global cultural marketplace. One exemption to this general inability to compete in a global art culture in the 1990s was the new area of net art, where, due to the lack of an established institutional Mafia in the West, and to the financial support from the Soros Foundation, a number of artists from the East were able to quickly become brand-name international players. However, today, we are witnessing the rapid institutionalization of net art in the West, which will probably marginalize the players from the East once again."
R.D.

 

Vuk Cosic
contemporary ascii
1998-
Having abandoned net.art creation ("net.art is dead"), Vuk Cosic, with his interest in history (history of art for airports, compressed history of films, etc.), archeology (first the archeologist by education, then, an archeologist of the new media), and archiving (copy of the Documenta X site), started to document the world and to translate it into ASCII characters. The desire to historicize the world which lies at the heart of this big project is a reaction to the rapid revolution of new media and the necessity of continually producing their history, with the attendant risk of seeing large swaths of it disappear.

The use of ASCII characters in this artwork comes from Cosic's bias for low tech and to the origins of art created on the computer and to the foundations of communication on the Internet. It reminds us of some ideals, such as the desire for universality associated with the constitution of the ASCII code and the promise of accessibility afforded by this technology. Such a return to the past is also a critical response to the frenetic course of new technologies and to the ceaseless consumption they demand from the people who use them.

What differentiates contemporary ascii from a tradition of ASCII art dating back to the beginnings of computer (even if we must point out the virtuosity and even the humour with which some of the artists used these symbols to create images) is the historical consciousness at core of this project and the distance taken in relation to the multimedia environment that the Web has become. Over time, the Web has become something quite different than a communication tool. It is a conduit for the most varied audiovisual documents, layers of information of different kinds that are superimposed on a basic instrumentation which ensures the fundamental operations that are specific to this technology. Reintroducing the code into the universe of the image, Vuk Cosic's contemporary asciileads to a reflection on the new environment and on the progressive disappearance of its origins. As Lev Manovich points out in one of the excellent texts accompanying these artworks, Vuk Cosicís use of ASCII renders both the image and the abstract code, offering a double visibility. His work invites us to reconsider the relationship between language and the visible, and to eschew the dominance of the visual over the written, such as is increasingly evident on the Web.

What characterizes this series of artworks is the mix of many techniques and means of representation, the artistís passage from one, the other , all brought together by the use of ASCII characters, as if this project could resolve their differences and wed "ancient" technologies with the new ones. He refers to the ambition of the digital universe to take the entire world into account and demonstrates the utopia of seeking to achieve the ultimate convergence of different media within this universe. The obsessive aspect of the project, however, takes it into the sphere of the implausible, as this extravagant undertaking touches on the absurd, and highlights the illusoriness of attempting to reduce all modes of representation to an outdated form.
S.P.

 

Petko Dourmana et Pavel
Metabolizer
1997/1998
In his video and performance production Petko Dourmana often works with his own body exploring the possibilities of its transformations. Metabolizer is a peculiar pseudo-chemically generated lesson of anatomy . Deformations and mutations are enacted in front of our eyes while we choose proteins, narcotic analgesics, hormones, anabolic steroids and vitamins and click on them altering the shape of the body. It is significant that it is the artist who appears in front of us naked, placed in the center of the frame as a passive object that we can manipulate and engineer a mutant creature with the aid of a palette of chemicals.

The viewer discovers details about Metabolizer in the process of interacting with it and gradually a web-specific eccorché of the idea of the body is revealed. It all depends how far one is prepared to go and what level of intoxication one wishes to reach. In some cases, the body melts into the black background and disappears, in others, endless possibilities of metamorphosis open up and the body can be altered to infinity. Free from centering, the body expands, capable of growing infinitely into tremendous proportions. Hyperbolic, the body parts with its human definition and forms large abstract structures which break out of the frame. Our intervention in this space-dance is a voyage from the physical to the metaphysical which testifies to the fact that Dourmana experiments with the notion of virtual shamanism. The unfolding of the work acts as an initiation into the dimensions of the human being as a life form and a cosmic one.

In the Summary to the book The Impossible Body (published also in the Slovenian contemporary art magazine Maska), author Bojana Kunst states: "It is a product of a traumatic desire for the ideal body, and in quest of its realization its flirts with God and it flirts with the Devil. It is the longing for the body without limitations, without the threat of death, spatial and temporal boundaries, without definiteness and gravity, where the artificial most often proves to be the mode in which the body could exist and function...Today's use of technology and collaboration between science and art offer the body unimagined performative possibilities, the body is becoming the locus of different locations and physiologies, it is neither bound to the epidermis nor to thought, it exceeds the limitations of space and time."

Within this exalted movement from a naked human body to its mental and cosmic projections with the help of intoxication, there is also the artist in the middle,who is anchored into a net.art framework who is searching for invisible expressions of his body and unknown manifestations of life. To a certain extent, Metabolizer also parallels art with artificiality, while acting as a symbolizer which gives signals of different approaches of working with the naked body throughout the history of art; for example, modernist deformations and contemporary body art and performance art practices. It is very possible that, having completed his studies in the National Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia in which traditional methods of art education rule, Dourmana experiments in this work with the possibility of the artist to grow out of it and to play with the idea of a simulated organic link between contemporary art practices and traditional ones.
R.D.

 

Tiia Johannson, Raivo Kelomees, Virve Sarapik et Nelli Rohtvee
Cybertower
1997
A collaborative project, Cybertower is based on an idea by Raivo Kelomees. A micro model of the Internet, this artwork is a view of it as a space and as a construction, be it societal or even esoteric. We can find in it sites of all kinds: ISPs, commercial and porno sites ("The #1 Pornosite on the Internet") , search engines like yahoo, sites in unreadable for some foreign languages (moslty Estonian), as well as art institutions' (the Re-lab in Riga, the E-Lab in Tallinn, The Estonian Academy of Arts, etc.) and artists' sites of course. One of the artists present in the Tower is "Net.lover" Tiia Johannson and her "Self.Museum" in which we can find a project called Skyscraper.net. Most self-loving however is the Cybertower itself because on one of the floors one finds a link to it.

It is suggested that for Cybertower, sky is the limit because as Kelomees points out "this project can grow to infinity." Not only that we can click on the little button, having the impression that we ring the bell of an apartment, and peek into another world and get a net-specific voyeuristic pleasure, but we can also get in, play and participate. The artists are inviting us, making the Cybertower an open space: "Everybody can submit an address of her/his/its page, site or project." The chat area emphasizes accessibility. The inhabitants can meet and discuss about the Tower's life. The artists inspire in the viewer a typical on-the-edge Internet thrill of being semi-invited or invited and uninvited at the same time.

Combining ancient and new, this cyber-construction works both as a tower and a skyscraper. At the same time Cybertower suggest an organic construction such as a beehive. In the introduction to the project, Raivo Kelomees comments on the mythological background and the metaphorical branching out of the project: "We happen to be in an ironical situation - while multitude of languages is typical for mankind (and it was an endpoint of Babel), then in cyberspace we can see erasement of differences and return to lingua franca or English. We are moving into the pre-Babel situation."

In Cybertower the artists juggle with the idea of the Internet as immaterial, while referring to its particularity of being monumental and public on a very large scale. Ironically, the structure is simple and uniform, resembling a cabinet, and we enter into it through tiny drawers. These contrasting aspects of the project lead to net.artists' persistent exploration of the Internet's liberating potential: "You can leave your bodies behind when entering the Tower, just like entering Paradise and Hell... These are huge upgoing buildings mankind has established and erected themselves into the eternity with. To free themselves from the heaviness of gravity! Every tower like an arrowhead to the heaven and suggestive command to the viewer - go! arise! change!"
R.D.

 

Olia Lialina
The Last Real Net Art Museum
2000
After having established Teleportacia, net.artís first gallery, Olia Lialina has gone on to create its last museum - The Last Real Net.Art Museum -, an extension of her constant and active promotion of the art form, and yet another expression of her desire to avail herself of it while sustaining it with an appropriate framework. This initiative results from her experience as invited artist to numerous events and exhibitions in various contexts and a long reflection on the ways in which net.art can be presented and curated. In fact, a few years ago museums started to present and even to acquire art created for the Internet, sometimes awkwardly by decontextualizing the artworks and by taking away their essential character (see another project of Lialina related to this subject, Location=>Yes>). In this respect, The Last Real Net.Art Museum is an attempt to re-appropriate and affirm the independence and the autonomy of this art, outside of the traditional museums' circuit.

The Last Real Net.Art Museum is as credible as any real museum with its collection, its archives and, even its store... Nevertheless, this museum totally differs from the imposing institutions which reside on the big avenues of our cities. Although purely virtual, it distinguishes itself also from the virtual exhibitions which these institutions have started to organize in the last few years. Yet, Lialina's museum also provides the occasion for an aesthetic and historic overview on the subject of art on the Web...

This "last" museum - "last" having all the weight and dramatic and/or ironic charge of finality - refers to net.art as a form of creation which many artists and critics call "bygone" (see for example Alex Galloway's text "net.art Year in Review: State of net.art 99", in Switch quoting Tilman Baumgartel: Net-dot-art is dead") This is how artists from the first generation of Web creators designated art created for the Internet, an art leaning on the very structures of this medium of communication, the protocols, the connectivity, the collaboration, and often bringing a critical, even an activist, perspective to the environment of cyberspace.

The last museum of "real" net.art is based on a "historic" work by the artist, one which belongs to a category of art created for the Internet, the same "net.art" which now belongs to the past... This work, My Boyfriend Came Back From the War, produced in 1996, and one of the most important projects in the short history of Internet art, acts as a starting point and as anchoring into the Museum. The collection includes different versions of the original artwork in audio, video, Flash and VRML formats, among others. These "artworks" no longer belong to real net.art, they are now compared to the "originalĒ, substituting it more or less successfully but certainly with some humour... These versions are also hommages produced by artists/collaborators, individuals who are part of Lialina's history (most of them appear in the Will-n-testament project). Thus, when they occur, the dispossession and reappropriation of the artwork by other artists are authorized and even sought. They coincide with the spirit of collaboration, of making things common, in which many artists work on the Web, including Lialina herself. The decontextualization of My Boyfriend Came Back From the War which is made by Lialina's museum remains faithful to the spirit of her work.
S.P.

 

Calin Man
The Last Man Standing
1999
Designing an interface in which the two major browsers Netscape and Explorer are set up in a face to face combat in cyberspace, Calin Man shows the role and the place of net.art as a particular kind of mediator in the world of the Internet. Actually, the artist creates a space for net.art by doing the impossible, merging the two competitors and placing them next to each other. In The Last Man Standing, Net.art is bravely viewed not as a buffer or judge between the two but rather as a redeemer of the Internet space and a shamanic mediator sanctifying cyber territories. Part of The Golden Virus and Other Web Site Stories project, which was presented in the exhibition Through the Looking Glass curated by Patrick Lichty and at the FCCM 2000, The Last Man Standing also won the second price at INFOS 2000 (off-line) net.art contest in Ljubljana. Derived from filmic tradition in its framing and imagery, as well as in its use of narrative, The Last Man Standing is endowed with an iconographic semblance to Olia Lialina's net stories / net films such as My Boyfriend Came Back from War and Lev Manovich's Little Movies Vol.1. The style of the project is based on film montage theory, while bordering on the idea of a classical net.art beauty, that is authenticity.

While split in two, the frame within a frame in this work puts together two separate and irreconcilable units referring to the no mercy battle waged between Netscape and Microsoft. Framing each other and yet framed by the artists, divided and united at the same time in their new dwelling, these giants of the pixelized world are dwarfed within the frame and turned into two fictional characters in a baseball-bat duel. Calin Man takes the real-life fact of the largest Internet war and as in previous works plays with clichés of the cyber language and experiments with its symbolic potential. Similarly to the sentence "The Golden Virus c'est moi," in The Last Man Standing, Man's signature can be recognized in a subtle personal touch as the artist replaced the English word in the "home" icon with the Romanian one - "a casa." He transforms the Net space from within by inventing two characters who are fighting for "spiritual" supremacy over the Internet in name of a "just" cause: who is going to be the Saint protector of the Internet?

With subtle irony, the artist transforms the content of the "icons," evidently designated as the Saints' rightful hypostases. Humour, subversion and authenticity are in the core of this net.artwork in which a desire to render the Internet space sacred comes forth. The work appeals to art's transformational, ritualistic powers of exorcising sinister forces. The simple construction of this dramatic space serving the net-specific narrative grows into a polymorphic semantic space. Are we in front of a gladiators' battle field or simply a sport's field? Is this a courtroom, a projection room, a net-like camera obscura? Are we in the middle of the Wild West, a gold rush, a Virgin Land, a cyber war zone, or in a cyber church? Who is the Last Man Standing, the winner and the survivor? If there is a Holly War, one of many, who is the soldier fighting it. Finally, who is the real Net warrior-saint, protector and "saviour" ? Perhaps, just as in the Golden Virus, it is Man himself, both Communicator and Explorer, a manipulator driven by a will to truth and authenticity, The Last Man Standing in the Scape of the Net.
R.D.

 

Slobodan Miladinov
Dibidius_Straight
2001
One of the most prominent typographers in Serbia, Slobodan Miladinov, whose main concentration is type design and visual identity systems, made his first net project, Dibidus, in team with well known Serbian book illustrator Dusan Pavlic. It was created on the occasion of the 1998 Creative Techno Week festival in Belgrade as a whimsical presentation of the font which the author, Miladinov, called Dibidus Italic (later developed and released as ITC Coconino). The font was produced with a "freemouse" technique combining the use of computer technology in drawing and the experience of hand-writing.

Dibidus_Straight is a strange blend of socialist propaganda art and the Russian Sots Art movement with recourse to constructivism and supermatism. Added to this concoction is a juxtaposition between socialist propaganda and advertising techniques of manipulating visual signs and text , as well as a dialogue between visually-specific design for print and that for the web. In an interplay between aliasing and antialiasing different levels of control are excersized over the image in relation to the pixel. It is all a game between the hidden and the obvious, the opaque and the transparent, not unlike a game of cards. Yet, the apparent linear navigation of the project turns out to be not as "straight" after all. The viewer finds him/herself in a wonderland of hidden links and surprising turns. The questions emerging are: where is the link, where is the catch, what is the difference, where is the way out and why?

The artist hints at comical cultural misunderstandings and some language struggles on the Internet. For example, the page EAST is designed as a Newsletter for Cyrillic users with the promise to be "available soon in Glagolic" (the old Slavic alphabet). The twofold identity is shown in the title EAST which is designed so that it can be read both in Cyrillic and Latin. The page is covered with arrows, predominantly pointing toward the upper-left of the frame confusing the viewer even further because the arrow signs replicate the actual arrow searching for the right target on the screen that could open the next page. Here, the arrows replace the multiple question mark signs one gets on an Internet page written in Cyrillic.

Caught up in the game, moving forward from catch to catch, from trap to trap, the visitor is finally lead to the star of the show: a non-bendable, flickering Mickey with pseudo-pixelized appearance is welcoming us to the third millennium. At this point, Miladinov reveals one of the principal aspects of visual manipulation in the project: the fact that the bitmaps were generated through vector software. Dibidus_Straight (the word dibidus means in Serbian completely, entirely, totally, absolutely) confronts the viewer with a comical coercive language, forcing us in one direction and not letting us out of a situation easily, keeping us trapped in a frame maybe until the content of the page has absolutely become imprinted on one's memory or until one turns "completely" claustrophobic.

Miladinov explores the language of signs playing them out alternately as weak and powerful, big and small, while stimulating the same game with the viewer's ego making it shrink and expand. It is an easy step to associate the viewer's voyage in the Internet with Alice in Wonderland. Another aspect of the work is the critique of absolutes, and as such Dibidus_Straight stands for an exercise in mindful movement within the Internet space. Some of the most intriguing layers in the project hint at to aspirations toward a total artwork or a total design work combined with constant ironical recourse to totalitarian modes of thinking.
R.D.

 

Alexei Shulgin et Natalie Bookchin
The Universal Page
2000
In the past, Alexei Shulgin initiated numerous highly esteemed projects in which many artists were involved as participants; examples of such works include Desktop is and Form Art. More recently, he completed several artworks in collaboration with Natalie Bookchin. One these is Introduction to Net.Art (1994-1999), with which The Universal Page, a product of the same duo, shares some common traits. In both projects the artists take a twofold look at the present situation, whether it is with the aim of revisiting art on the Web (Introduction to Net.Art) or the environment the Internet has become (The Universal Page). These two works draw portraits with which to assess the current situation on the Web, for, while the Web and the practice of producing art on it have a short history, it is nevertheless time to examine its present state. The portrait created by Introduction to Net.Art (1994-1999) results from a temporal discourse, whereas that created by The Universal Page derives from an analysis of a spatial nature and transgresses the framework of the art realm.

Their predilection for collective work has led the artists to produce a special device developed with the help of programmers. This instrument promises nothing less than the possibility for totalizing, synthesizing and, visualizing the Web environment. Its purpose is to give concrete expression to "the single largest collaboration ever known to humankind." In these respects, the project manifests a desire to reach the universal, to eliminate frontiers and distances, whether geographical, cultural or other. This is the desire which has inhabited the history of the Internet and that of other telecommunication tools which came before it, as Randall Packer states in a text about this artwork published by the Walker Art Center.

The outcome of this synthesis, however, is constantly renewed to "really" keep track of the Web's unstable environment, offers a rather unattractive image of the universal entity that has finally been achieved. The information gathered and treated melts into a definitely muddied magma which is definitely brown ("the brownification of information", says Randall Packer), which shows no prospect of "clearing up", of returning to light, that is, leading to a lucid vision and, by extension, to an understanding of this space. Moreover, the pieces of "texts" form an indecipherable chain of letters. The accumulation of elements, constantly digested and restored, does not succeed in expressing anything; it remains empty of meaning, insignificant. The continuous change within this formless mass does not help and the change itself becomes a source of a profound disillusion.

With The Universal Page, Alexei Shulgin and Natalie Bookchin seriously test the big, persistent utopian desire to fuse with cyberspace, gather all individuals and unite them to reach the universal. The project warns against a process of homogenization in which identity becomes indistinct, individuality and individual difference lost for the sake of a totality that can only be unintelligible. Amused and critical at the same time, and while failing to lend it a crystal-clear image, the artists take a shrewd look at this utopia.
S.P.

 

Igor Stromajer
zvrst3
1999
A true seeker of the emotional, intimate and personal aspects of the Internet and a militant striving to infuse this space with human warmth, Igor Stromajer is known as the author of a virtual base, called intma.org, which is welcoming and alluring, and yet non-lavish and non-seductive in its appearance. One of the most versatile artists on the Net, and the first cantor of HTML (Oppera Teorettikka Internettikka), Stromajer surprises us once again with the low-tech, minimalist trash-sound project, zvrst3, awarded 1st prize at Trash ART, Moscow, Russia, 1999.

In this work the artist continues to make room for the individual and to render complex ideas with simplicity. As many other net.artists, especially from the former Eastern Block, Stromajer is a non-believer in seamless expression. He exploits the aspect of transparency of the Internet medium to the maximum in order to convey a healing message and sow a liberating seed. Therefore, the trick and the manipulation in the work are made so obvious: the sentence, "Don't ask what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!" which John F. Kennedy pronounced fourty years ago (January 20, 1961) on his inauguration as President, has been edited and reversed to - Don't ask what you can do for your country, ask what your country can do for you!"

In an interview with by Tilman Baumgaertel, published in Telepolis (Germany, April 1999), Igor Stromajer says: "Being faced with the computer is like going to the very deep process of the most intensive self-communication. It is a kind of art that puts you as a user/participant into the co-creators position: you have to be active to survive in this kind of digital environment." In these respects, zvrst3 is a manifestation of the syntax of "self-communication" enabling the individual to turn a powerful, imperative sentence into a question or even more precisely into many question marks. This is how an empty space is created in which human identity can dwell and being can unfold. As the artist says, "this is space democracy." In zvrst 3 (zvrst means species in Slovenian) he encrypts the beginnings of the democratic experience in our civilization as Aristotle's sentence "Man is a political animal" and Socrates' "Know thyself" carved into the Delphi oracle come to mind and blend into each other.

The artist transforms the computer box into a dwelling of the human inner voice. He goes further than simply reversing the sentence by multiplying it and giving the opportunity to the viewer to replay them in different order. The statement goes out of control. From very small series of gestures performed both by the artist and the viewer, the deconstruction grows into monumental (better yet poly-mental) proportions. The voice of a leader breaks into many voices and his words splinter into many sounds. Then, comes the silence... The multiple silent cells on the screen constitute the magnified greed of the microphone conspicuously handed to the person in front of the computer. It is our turn to speak. The multiplicity of echoes and other sound effects, that the listner co-creates, reverberate and penetrate the viewer on a subliminal, almost organic level. The message instills an inner revolution, becomes healing, empowering life.

From a post-communist point of view, the artist, who belongs to a generation that has lived the traumatic effects of totalitarian thought and practice shows that imperatives could easily be taken to the absolute and turn into dogmas. Perhaps with zvrst.3, Igor Stromajer has the grand task of preparing the individual for a life in a community capable of reaching a higher level of democracy, yet unknown, and co-creating a 3rd millennium democracy. Or is it simply the distant voices of a species of a third kind that the Net has accidentally caught and brought down to us?
R.D.

 

Teo Spiller
Nice Page
2000
The ironically superficial title of Nice Page, is deeply rooted in Teo Spiller's previous projects Hommage to Mondrian and the banner art competition. In Nice Page the parallel drawn between net.art and neo-plasticism in Hommage to Mondrian is taken a step further right into the depths of the creative possibilities of the Internet. By layering and meandering of pages from Alta Vista's "bitch search" with 313,375 pages found through Barbie's world, to Ljudmila and the Guggenheim Museum, the artist takes a hermeneutic approach to unraveling the hidden-yet-to-be-discovered world of net.art or net plasticism.

At first glance, Nice Page is a provocation toward the superficial flipping of pages and the over saturation of the Internet space. Above all, it is a criticism toward a superficial attitude in the approach to it. Referring to the practice of leafing through web pages, the artist positions himself against an easy way out in dealing with the phenomenon of protecting our mind from being constantly bombarded and cluttered during our cyber journeys. Weaving a medieval tapestry of "illuminated" pages, the artist interlaces them into a web demonstrating clearly how it could easily turn into a net for catching "butterflies." The Internet is shown as a beehive with fatal attractive powers as we spot here and there a queen bee or two, and of course much honey. However, the Page has two sides: the viewer is not seen as an innocent victim but rather as a thirsty-nice-page-hunter, aiming through the viewfinder-like frames within the frame.

At the same time, Nice Page constitutes a filtering grid, a critical module of viewing. It brings us back to antiquity and takes on apotropaic functions. Its appeal acts as a protective shield against seductive and debilitating invasions of "nice pages" into our consciousness. The pleasant-looking mosaic acts as a bate leading the visitor to probe deeper and see what lies underneath the pavement, understand what is the hidden, underlying structure. In this strange mix of marbles (ital.), net.art is shown as a forum, an agora where questions can be asked and dialogues can take place.

Surprisingly, as we navigate, there are moments when caught in the labyrinth of pages we loose track of the grid. Suddenly, there arises a desire to go back to the nice page and contemplated it further. Solving the riddle and deciphering the rules of the game which is about to unfold on this checkerboard seems to be the threshold to finding the essential links between the one traveling in cyber space and the journey itself. Spiller guides the viewer to a symbolic level of interactivity, where, by putting the pieces of this intricate puzzle together, one can arrive at touching with his/her own mind the contours of net.art as a whole. Probing the ground of net.art in intriguing and meaningful ways, Nice Page is a reflection on this art form, its true primary and neutral colours, tools and materials. It demonstrates Internet and net.art manners of "pulling the strings," in one case to find an erring victim, in the other to arrive at a composition which can only be held by the mind because the artwork is only a springboard to our own, infinite imaginary world. Therefore, infinity, transparency, totality, interactivity, immateriality of the Net are illusory without the alert participation of the mind.
R.D.

 

Reviews by Rossitza Daskalova and Sylvie Parent

 

 



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