Petra Cortright, System Landscape, 2007, (click on image to enlarge)
Click the tiny wand on the left hand side of a drop down tool bar at Club Internet, a recently launched online art gallery by Harm van den Dorpel to view different works. On the far right a small question mark will open a frame which lists the participating artists in each show, though their name, the piece and date of execution will appear only in the header of your browser. Needless to say, Club Internet is hardly the most intuitive website to navigate, a decision that comes with a few pluses and minuses. On the one hand the set up demands an active and engaged viewer, a tradition well established within the artistic practice, (abstract sculptor Matthew Ronay immediately comes to mind, an artist who described lazy viewing as the cause of any misunderstanding three years ago at PS1.) On the other, while the site’s active challenges to the Internet’s link economy may mirror the tradition of art work designed to thwart the market, (there is no unique url for each exhibition) one has to question how much is gained by making it difficult for people to link to. Is net art not ephemeral enough already? Does it really need liberation from permalinks?
These aren’t new questions to net artists, certainly Jodi’s strategy of creating the appearance of a broken website provides a loose prototype for this kind of investigation, so it seems fitting that the concept be applied to an exhibition format that then brings together so many artists working with similar ideas. K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple stupid), Club Internet’s current collection of web art put together by constant dullaart, presents a focused curatorial theme of artists working with design simplicity, many of whom bring the user static websites, and various utilities commonly found on the web that don’t work the way they are supposed to. The success of the work varies from piece to piece, though for the most part it’s strong. Petra Cortright’s System Landscape features a horizontal rectangular frame at the bottom of the frame, with a partly obscured video of water in a small brook with overhead text reading, door is closed, door may be open, and three cancel buttons below. The whole piece reads like a puzzle I’m not sure has an answer. Whatever the case, the work is very effective. [Update: click anywhere on the original work and it will lead to a number of different images]
In as much as one liner art has its limitations a number of pieces in this show at least do well with the concept. Probably my favorite piece in this vein is Ben Coonley’s response to Constant DullArt’s youtube as subject, in which he provides the following viewing advice, “For best results, use a dial-up modem connection (28.8 kbit/s or slower) and select YouTube’s “view at high quality” option“. The comedic timing in these works is very effective, and while I don’t want to spoil any surprises [SPOILER ALERT] I will say the olympic youtube symbol in this group is very funny. By contrast, Dennis Knopf‘s Office Party, a flipbook type gif that melds a a woman and mans face, and iwannabeonyourdelicio.us a webpage asking users to add it to their social bookmarking device delicious while erroneously telling the user 1955 people have already done so (47 is the current number on delicious), aren’t quite clever enough to evade their juvenile beginnings. It’s a problem, but not a deal breaker for the show. Although uneven, K.I.S.S., and Club Internet as a whole, presents a genuinely exciting venue for net artists.
K.I.S.S. participating artists are:
Yariv Alter Fin, John Michael Boling, Victor Boulet, Mark Callahan, Chris Coy, Ben Coonley, Petra Cortright, David L. Mitchell, Harm van den Dorpel, Constant Dullaart, Daniel Eatock, Justin Kemp, Dennis Knopf, Stan L, Oliver Laric, Jan Robert Leegte, John Michael Boling & Guthrie Lonergan, Jonathan Puckey, Rafael Rozendaal, Pascual Sisto, Ola Vasiljeva