An Exhibition to Keep Internet Art Alive – Brought to you by Hyundai Motor Company

My name is Zachary Kaplan. I’m Executive Director of Rhizome, which is an organisation that champions
born-digital art and culture. We’re based on the internet at, and we’re affiliated with the New
Museum in New York City. This is ‘The Art Happens Here: Net
Art’s Archival Poetics’. It’s an exhibition from a major project we’ve
been undertaking called Net Art Anthology, which is as an entire initiative,
seeking to retell the history of internet art. It’s comprised only of sixteen works
but can really draw you in. You’ll be able to see works that you haven’t
seen because of technical obsolescence, for many years. So, when you enter the gallery, one of the first
works that you see is Alexei Shulgin’s 386 DX. When this artwork was new,
the computer was already old. It was made in 1998
at a moment when Alexei felt that people were very excited about all of these
new kinds of technologies and it was ruining art. So he decided to use a creative sound blaster
soundcard which in its day was revolutionary, because it was the first time that there was this
soundcard that sounded like a human voice. And he made the creative sound blaster soundcard
the sort of lead singer in a band of which he was the operator. And he would perform with this band
on the streets of cities or nightclubs. So it plays all of these hits
and is really quite emotional to listen to. I think that the show does speak directly
to the question of art’s relationship to technology. Any artist working after a certain point in time
has to have a relationship to technology, be it that they reject dealing with it
directly in their work or that they like are actively engaging in it. So I think that a lot of the works
in this show are very, very cognisant of their
relationship to technology and are actively trying to work through that. At the time, Eduardo Kac, the artist,
was making this series of visual poems and he began experimenting
with this video text network. This is this piece that’s slowly spelling out
‘Abracadabra’, like a magic trick, but it’s one of my favourite pieces
in the show. A great example of some of the problems
of preservation that we have encountered, an example of an artist sort of
thematising those problems, is Olia Lialina’s ‘Give Me Time,
This Page is No More’, which is slide projector images cast
onto the wall and it projects GeoCities pages that either announce the creation
of a new page or basically the abandonment
or death of a page. And so Olia is really interested in the sort
of life cycles of content and objects on the internet and has in her own practice,
really dug into the question of preservation. In many ways, this exhibition is
retrospective, historical. It’s looking at things that begin in
1985 and move into the future, but for us, this is like a really
contemporary exhibition. This is the subject of conversation
that’s very active online right now, about the type of life and culture
that plays out on the web but then doesn’t necessarily have the protection
that other culture elsewhere has. You know, of course we’re showing
contemporary artists but we’re also engaging this very
contemporary conversation. It just looks like Windows 95 browsers.

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