"What is art?", Allen Ginsberg asked William Burroughs.
"A three- letter word", he answered.
Web as Canvas offers a series of artistic proposals
conceived for this new canvas and at the same time stage of contemporary
creation, which is the Internet. All the projects we think are
representative of the new creative tendencies in the Internet
and are directly linked to the topic of this year: "stretched
painting". This subject is very wide and we are not in favour
of huge selections, so we have decided to choose ten projects,
which from our point of view materialize what we understand by
"painting with code". Nine of these are already existing
projects, which have been lent by their creators for Web as Canvas
(thank you so much to everybody!) and one of them, World
Wall Painters, by the collective Area3 from Barcelona
has been specially made for Art Futura 2002. It is an application
for the Carnivore Project by RSG Radical Software Group, a project
based on the software with the same name used by the FBI to intercept
Internet communications. The Carnivore spies
on data packages, and offers artists these packages to be reinterpreted
in a creative way, turning thus the own computer code into a work
of art. After artists such as Entropy8Zuper and Mark Napier
(who take part in Web as Canvas with other projects), Area3
has also put one of the great dogmas of art into practice, that
is, to use something for a different purpose than it was first
conceived. Thus, an instrument of repression and control such
as the Carnivore becomes a dispenser of realistic paintings in
the case of Area3 and Entropy8Zuper, a dispenser of fractal and
abstract images in the case of Joshua Davis and even a dispenser
of music in the case of Tom Betts.
The rest of the projects offer different ways to paint with the
code and, at the same time, establish clear bonds with the great
movements of modern art. The "oldest" project is Communimage
from 1999 by the Spanish-Swiss group Calc. Since
then it does not stop growing thanks to the netizens' contributions.
Entropy8Zuper, the baroque voice in the Internet,
presents the last version of Eden Garden, exhibited
at the SFMoma in 010101 Art In Technological Times. The project
is based on an application that reads the html code of a web page
typed by the user and turns it into elements of an artificial
3D paradise, planted with fantastic trees and flowers. For the
same exhibition, the SF Moma also produced Feed by Mark
Napier, a paradigmatic work of the relationship between
net.art and the great artistic avant-garde movements. Feed is
a creative browser that borrows the structure and contents of
web pages and turns them into a constant flow of pixels using
data, codes, images and texts to produce out a computer action-painting.
Something similar to what happens with Turux.
Lia and Dextro's work has been
defined as "a dream by Paul Klee in a Picasso world."
Unfolding Object by John Simon Jr
is also more linked to the pictorial tradition than computing.
The piece, based on a digital structure that changes according
to the netizens' access to the web, links to many artistic experiences
from Sol LeWitt to Paul Klee, and even to the techniques used
in the Alhambra's design and other Islamic architectures.
In the free-flowing and unlimited space of the virtual creation
the limits between art and design have been mixed and faded away.
Three aspects represent this versatile area, which feeds from
so many different sources, from graphic design to conceptual art.
The elegant minimalism of InsertSilence, a shared
project between the Israeli Amit Pitaru and the
English James Paterson, who started working together
when they found out by chance they lived in the same street in
New York. The underground and brutalist design of Snowcrash by
the American of Cuban origin Antonio Mendoza,
whose work mixes the psychedelic aesthetic from the seventies,
comics culture, Indian iconography and the girls from adult manga
comics. Typographic variations of Textension
by Joshua Nimoy, an artistic research directly
influenced by concrete poetry, focused on perception and pleasure
of interaction. Finally, the graphic experiments in Electric
Sheep by Scott Draves turn into forms
of artificial life thanks to a software, which generates complex
Ten projects: ten different forms to paint with code.
1. AREA3 - WORLD WALL PAINTERS
a client for CARNIVORE PROJECT - Radical Software Group (RSG)
Area3 is a collective of artists living in Barcelona,
composed by Federico Joselevich, Chema Longobardo, Sebastián
Puiggros and Elisa Lee.
Using the same irony of Jasper Johns' flag, area3's World Wall
Painters paint constantly the flags of the countries of those
webs keyed by the users. The result is a collage that points to
the democratic utopia in the Internet and the current reality
of accessing information and new media.
"In 1993, when the Internet broke its own shell, the government
of the United States proposed the creation and widespread installation
of a chip called Clipper in all electronic devices of communication.
This decision caused a lot of criticism. In a similar way, the
Carnivore Diagnostic Tool was developed and set up by the FBI
in order to regulate the data content flowing through the Internet.
Orwell and Ballard's most macabre images materialize with their
most evil faces, those that become true.
World Wall Painters is a client that exploits and depicts the
information Carnivore obtains from the Net. IP addresses are distributed
by an international organization among all the countries in the
world. With the help from a database, we can know the country
an IP address belongs to. And the artists, very skillfully and
quickly, paint the official flag of that country. The collage
of flags, colors and textures show that, despite the attempts
of hegemonic control, the Internet is heterogeneous. Each one
is a painter of thousands of flags. Every user gains control of
millions of data milling between the computers connected. Each
net surfer becomes a juggler of packages, colors and electronic
metaphors. And they are not afraid of controlling the eternal,
since he feels in control of the infinite."
"On October 1, 2001, The Radical Software Group (RSG), a
lose international collective of Internet artists, announced the
release of Carnivore Project. The project is a collaboration consisting
of two parts. The first part is the Carnivore application, a public
domain copy of the FBI surveillance software DCS1000, commonly
nicknamed Carnivore. DCS1000 is a program developed by the FBI
to "wire tap" Internet data. RSG's Carnivore essentially
performs the same task as the FBI's software though runs on Windows
98/2000 as a standalone application and can be downloaded for
free from Internet. The second part consists of client applications
that turn the raw Internet data captured by Carnivore into art.
The two aspects of the project, the software and the client, are
collaborative in nature and take advantage of the Internet's strengths
as a communication tool. The Carnivore software collaborates with
the users it is watching, a process that relies on the open nature
of TCP-IP communication, and the artists constructing these clients,
who might never see each other in person, are collaborating with
Cory Arcangel - RGS
2. CALC - COMMUNIMAGE
"Communimage is an art collaborative project, an
attempt to entertain a visual global dialogue, which since 1999
it is still growing and developing freely.
Statistic: 30.08.2002, 13:58
Number of images: 19408
Number of contributors: 1724
Number of origin countries: 65
Printing size: 137.47968 m2 (13.0176m x 10.5768m)
The visual interface of Communimage is a grid system that defines
exactly the position of each image, which has been downloaded.
Communimage is an Internet project based on the idea of a virtual,
collective "sculpture". It is also inspired on www.sito.org
of Ed Stastny, an earlier collaborative art project. Contrary
to Sito, Communimage centers around the creation of one big picture
and it's met information facets; the authors of the single patches
are not really visible".
Calc (Casqueiro Atlantico Laboratorio Cultural) with the
collaboration of Johannes Gees and Roger Luechinger (Asturias)
3. SCOTT DRAVES - ELECTRIC SHEEP
"The name comes from Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream
of Electric Sheep? This idea was inspired by the SETI@home project,
but instead of searching for aliens, Electric Sheep brings artificial
organisms to life. When the software is activated, the screen
goes black and an animated 'sheep' appears. Users can download
the flock of sheep at any moment and, around every fifteen minutes,
they can attend the birth of a new creature, in a constant digital
breeding process. The screen-saver is a window into a visual space
shared among all users, which can vote to increase the life of
their favourite sheep. Electric Sheep investigates the role of
experiencers in creating the experience. If nobody ran the client,
there would be nothing to see. However, as more clients join,
more computational muscle becomes available, and the quality of
the graphics increases, making sheep more lasting, bigger and
clear. The more people who participate, the better the graphics
look. Both clients and server are open source software".
Scott Draves - San Francisco
4. ENTROPY8ZUPER - EDEN GARDEN 1.1
"Eden Garden is another way to perceive data from the Net.
When the visitor types in a URL, God's hand is put into action,
that is, the browser and the Web turn into a new world full of
life, and we are Adam and Eve moving to the rhythm of the code.
And God Created HTML and The Garden of Eden works like a browser.
You feed it a URL and it interprets the data. The moves Adam and
Eve make are based on the traditional moves characters in 3D games.
The text becomes the engine that drives the dance of the main
characters. And the code defines the world. Each letter of the
alphabet represents a move. The letters on the left side of a
computer keyboard are Eve's moves, the letters on the right side
those of Adam. As the engine moves through the entire document,
it makes Adam and Eve move according to the letters it encounters".
Entropy8zuper (Michael Samyn + Auriea Harvey) - Gante
5. LIA + DEXTRO - TURUX
"Is GHB toxic? Is it addictive? Does it induce serious convulsions,
drowsiness, hallucinations or confusion? Does it cause aggression
and self-injurious behaviour?
Does it cause heart attack, coma and death? Or serious physical
harm? Is it new? Is it a design drug? Or is it a date rape drug?
cannabis ? addiction
alcohol, tobacco = addictive
Turux protests against the lack of future of the Austrian government,
which represents a further milestone at incredibility and greed
for the most obtuse and long-established power.
Dextro protests, moreover, against the criminalization of cannabis
consumers, and simultaneously they help the market and consumption
of alcohol and tobacco.
Tobacco advertising is a crime against humanity and so is the
ban of cannabis".
Lia + Dextro - Viena (Austria)
6. ANTONIO MENDOZA - SNOWCRASH
"In keeping with the end of intellectual property rights,
my work has been created using images, sounds and scripts pirated
from magazines, books, CDs, and corporate and pornographic web
sites. My sites work like meta-collages in which the hyper-linkage
between pages acts as an active element in its assembled logic.
From the autistic web paradise of Subculture, full of information
but stuck in annoyingly repetitive patterns, to the digital epileptic
seizure of Snowcrash: loud, retinal, and disturbing, with data
behaving in ways they shouldn't be behaving. A big-bang which
changes the computer's interface into a chaotic universe, combining
slogans, impossible forms and recycled material from the Internet,
which make the user surprised and almost dazed."
Antonio Mendoza - Los Angeles
7. MARK NAPIER - FEED
"Feed is an online artwork, designed to exist in the Internet
and to explore the ideas of ownership, authority, territory, and
communication in the virtual world. Many of my pieces appropriate
the text, images and data that make up the web. The software uses
this information as raw material to create an aesthetic experience.
As I program these interfaces, the coding process creates unforeseen
possibilities that add another dimension to the work. The technology
reveals unprecedented possibilities. Accidents happen and mistakes
in the code produce unexpected but wonderful qualities. This creative
chaos extends to the works themselves. My works are not objects
but interfaces. The users become collaborators in the artwork,
upsetting the conventions of ownership and authority. By interacting
with the work, the visitors shape the piece, causing it to change
and evolve, often in unpredictable ways. The user is an integral
part of the design. Technology provides the interface through
which the user engages in the aesthetic process. The artwork is
not a thing, it is a process, an interface, an invitation to participate
in a creative act".
Mark Napier - New York
8. JOSHUA NIMOY - TEXTENSION
"What if I could blow bubbles with my words? What if I could
play them like sounds on a phonograph record? In Textension, a
viewer experiences how it feels to type in interactive forms such
as soap bubble blowing, DNA, a simple video game, phonograph record,
trees and abstract forms. Textension is a collection of 10 creative
variations on a typing word processor, a series of 10 interactive
typing expressions, written in C++, inspired by typewriters. Its
goal is to explore metaphors and aesthetics used for designing
automated typesetting process on the personal computer beyond
the traditional convention of typewriting. Each of the ten pieces
is a typing experience. I created these ten pieces in response
to a world of such dry computer word processing. My goal is to
inspire a more imaginative exploitation of the unique capability
of computers: creating expressive typing experiences otherwise
inefficient to implement, or physically impossible."
Joshua Nimoy - New York
9. AMIT PITARU + JAMES PATERSON - INSERTSILENCE
"My work can be seen as an effort to apply music-production
methods towards visual design and motion. I'm currently learning
how to create work through a balance of design and performance.
This is not a new idea, jazz musicians have been doing so for
years by improvising on musical structures. In many cases, I cannot
find the tools to create what's in my mind, so behind the scenes
I am developing custom tools that enable this exploration. James
and I share a mutual interest in accessing the connections between
sound, visuals and motion."
Amit Pitaru - New York
"I use a computer the same way I use a sketchbook. I work
all the time, developing small ideas. When I stumble over one
or a combination of ideas that I find interesting I will take
them further and develop them. Both Amit and me are inspired for
music first and foremost."
James Paterson - New York
10. JOHN SIMON JR. - UNFOLDING OBJECT
"Programming is a kind of creative writing. Unfolding Object
is an endless book that rewrites itself and whose use dictates
its content. When you visit the Unfolding Object, you see a blank
square on a web page that unfolds in response to clicking on any
of its edges. Each page is patterned with a graphic that reflects
the state of the object. For example, a page that has been opened
four times in the past is marked with four horizontal lines; a
vertical line stands for ten unfoldings. The idea for Unfolding
Object comes from many sources. Physicist David Bohm theorizes
about a level of information below the quantum level where all
matter is interconnected. In his terminology, the object unfolds
information about itself. The outward expression of an object
is the unfolding of this potential. I detected a similarity between
Bohm's description of nature and software objects. The potential
for the Unfolding Object is contained in the source code, which
is unfold by the interaction of the user. Another source was Klee,
who wrote about how a drawing is defined by its cosmogenic moment,
when the symmetry of the blank page is broken by the first mark,
the first decision of the creator."
John Simon - New York
Text originally published in ArtFutura's 2002 catalog.