July 27 - August 02, 2003

Originally published on 07/20/03
Processing - new work on flight404.com


Processing represents the most dramatic shift in work on Robert Hodgin's 'digital playground' flight404.com since its inception three years ago. Alongside pieces like 'ribbon' inspired by Yugo Nakamura (yugop.com), version 6 of the site features new generative work that experiments with real-time webcam filtering. Complex algorithms interpret video feed, color tracking and audio input to create exquisite environments and video imagery.
:: Neil Jenkins ::

Originally published on 07/23/03
Walter Benjamin is best known for his essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." Benjamin's most polemic statement is on the aura (uniqueness/cultural specificity) of the work of art, which, according to him, withers away when the object is mechanically reproduced. The aura of the work of art was more recently reconsidered by Douglas Davis in his online essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction." Here, the death of the aura is again revisited, not in relation to objects, but in relation to information networks.

And then along comes an artist...

Arcangel Constantini has developed the online project The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical vs. Digital Reproduction; which, in a way, reconsiders ideas in both of the aforementioned essays (although he does not reference either writer directly). Constantini's project presents computer manipulated reproductions of serigraph prints; each reproduction is available for purchase only during the moment of presentation. The user can purchase the moment for whatever amount desired. Once the window is closed, the object only exists in the collector's memory. A record of all virtual collectors is also kept in the website's database.

Constantini is interested in the tension between concrete and digital space. He questions whether "In concrete space…there [is] such a thing as a copy, or is each reproduction an original? In virtual space, is the original the code and the copy the interpretation of such code?" These and other questions haunted Constantini while developing Mechanical vs. Digital. And the result is an intriguing piece of online art, which exposes the current roles of the work of art as an object of contemplation, a marketable item, a form of communication, and a critique of its supporting culture.

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical vs. Digital Reproduction effectively shows that the work of art is now completely dependent on its context for use value, which means that contextualization may be taking over where the aura left off[1]. There may no longer be an original work of art, but there will always be original and unique experiences -- and this, Constantini's work is able to bring to netizens all around the internet.

[1] It should be made clear that context has always been part of a work's contemplation. The difference, as Benjamin himself points out in his famous essay is that now critical minds can no longer assume a suspension of context as a given. One must keep in mind under what conditions was the object originally produced and reproduced.
:: Eduardo Navas ::

Originally published on 07/22/03
This review for Valérie Lamontagne's new project "Sister Valérie of the Internet" came to me in the last few days via the "noemalab" mailing list and struck me as being both unique and linked to Tamara Laï's recent call for contributions to her "portrait of god" project. (see that? cross referencing!).

It's not often you see two net-art pieces on the subject of religion in the same week. Granted, they both take very different approaches. Tamara Laï's questions whether new spaces require new religions while Valérie Lamontagne's takes advantage of the bizarre online cultural phenomenon of people wanting to write about every little detail of their lives. Two artists (ironically both French speaking artists) 'using' religion in unique and interesting ways and in such a would-be godless place questions whether net art is gradually moving away from the cold inhuman style it is so often accused of having and suggests that even in new places we can never escape ourselves or our culture.

Valérie Lamontagne's "Sister Valérie of the Internet", a net-performance allowing users to confess their sins online, is the chosen "Splash Page Project" for the months of July/August on "Year Zero One". Further information, dates and times for the performance can be seen on the "Year Zero One" page or the "Sister Valérie of the Internet" project page. So, go redeem yourself!
:: Garrett Lynch ::

Originally published on 07/20/03
Maps / graphing applications of the internet have existed almost as long as the Internet itself. Originally being created only in the domain of scientists and programmers, for a few years now, net artists have been making attempts of their own to understand the structure of the space they work in.

"Flexplorer" is the latest example of such attempts by erational.org created in flash. Not without its problems (like all internet mapping systems, due to the huge task of such an undertaking), "Flexplorer" is a valid research towards an understanding of how we tend to visualize information structures on computers by using visual clues of things around us: the stem, head and petals of a flower, the spiraling outward growth of a snails shell, etc. All of the above are examples of sophistication from a central starting point and this is what "Flexplorer" does. It starts with a point on the network, a URL, and a webpage; and then spiders out via links on that page to create an ever increasing complex structure.

For me, "Flexplorer" lacks a certain artistic touch that would make it a unique vision of the network. Little is done to take it much further than I/O/D's "Web Stalker" in how it displays the webpage and its locality. In fact, it could be said that the visualization is what we have come to expect in those few years that we have been using the network and have been barraged by images of complex structures of information via popular culture. That said, this is version 1.0 of "Flexplorer" and so this is most probably one to watch out for in the future!
:: Garrett Lynch ::