[October 28th 2004]
5 Faves - picked by Sebastian Campion
Granted, surfing the net for nice new stuff can
be quite time consuming - and often you come across the good stuff
by chance. We asked a number of Nordic artist to help us surf by
telling us their five favorite picks. The assignment was quite open
- it could be current hits as well as all time greatests. Here is
what the Danish Amsterdam based artist Sebastian Campion
Singling out a handful of net art pieces using 'favorite' as the
selection criteria turned out to be surprisingly difficult. Generally,
I like web works that are conceptually strong but I am not sure
if I can claim to have 5 all-time favorites.
Nonetheless, I have picked 2 old-school works that had an impact
on me long time ago plus 3 interesting works that I came across
recently. Some of them probably reflect my own interest in meta-design
(structures) but overall they represent my first and last encounters
with net art in its broad definition. Coincidentally, the first
and last one are both influenced by games.
I Confess by Michaël Samyn: http://adaweb.walkerart.org/~GroupZ/confess/
From I Confess
I Confess by Michaël Samyn is one of the first net art
piece that I recall seeing. It was created around 1996 at a time
when the web was about to explode in size and interactivity was
using pop-up windows and cookies, which was really avant-garde in
those days (... of course, net art was avant-garde in itself). The
piece is shaped as an arcade-like confession-booth that poses a
series of yes/no questions and as you start clicking it becomes
evident that it is a parody of the art-world as well as the interactive
medium. You are expected to answer the questions and thus to navigate
in one way only!
'I Confess' is online at the classic and much celebrated äda
web, which is now archived at the Walker Art Center. Unfortunately,
my OS/browser (MacOS X/Safari) can not run it so I emailed Michaël
Samyn and asked if it was online elsewhere or if I should downgrade
my software or use a PC. Here's his reply:
You have to downgrade just about everything you've got. ;(
Our work has been 'degrading' as technology 'evolves' and we see
more and more of our pieces break. It's a frustrating affair that
moves so quickly that we can't keep track anymore.
'I confess' was made for Netscape on PC and Mac (pre-X). I think
Netscape version 3 but it was probably updated when version 4 came
out. The browser that is currently available under the name 'Netscape',
however, is completely different.
I just checked and I can confirm that it works on Explorer on
And it works in Mozilla Firefox on OSX! :)
(except for one little detail, but oh well)
And it works in Opera on Windows as well.
So, there you go. Check it out on Windows or install Firefox on
your Mac or downgrade it to run Netscape 3.
PS. Some people might know Michaël Samyn as the other half
Images (larger than) 1:1 by Debra Solomon: http://www.xs4all.nl/~dsolomon
From Images (larger than)
Images (larger than) 1:1 by Debra Solomon is another artwork
from the same period (~1996) that experiments with interface (images,
frame borders, text) and navigation systems (space/scrollbars).
It was created just as the first wave of screen aesthetics and usability
consciousness made the web begin to look and feel the same (Razorfish
and Jakob Nielsen respectively, being among the trendsetters). Besides
being a unique artwork I think Images (larger than) 1:1 is a nice
piece of documentation of how the web was once embraced by artists
and designers as a new and open territory. The work is playful,
energetic and free of constraints.
It is still online but the '<blink>' tag doesn't work with
today's browsers so, in order to get the full experience you either
have to downgrade to Netscape 3/4 or imagine that the interface
is more alive - somewhat like a space station seen from above.
Eyes Only by John Holden: http://lesspc.lessrain.com/eyesonly/
From Eyes Only
Eyes Only is a project by John Holden created in collaboration
with the design studio Less Rain in 2001. The project consists of
a book and a website that are only connected thematically ('mysteries')
but are represented totally different thus taking full advantage
of each medium. The website invites people to submit images of UFO's
that are captured using an observation tool that can be downloaded
from the site. Participants are then encouraged to add notes to
their observations, which provoke some humorous responses that illustrates
how people tend to react to one another within a given structure.
Naturally, a list of '10 things you should do if you encounter a
UFO' is also available at the site.
Communiculture by Futurefarmers: http://www.communiculture.org
Communiculture by the design studio Futurefarmers is a project
that resembles Eyes Only slightly. It also allows people to intercommunicate
but focuses a lot more on the social aspect inspired by a real-life
psycho-dramatic exercise. (you can read more
about it here at Artificial.dk). I like web works that employ
text in new and abstract ways and in my view Communiculture is a
piece of poetry!
September 12 by newsgaming.com: http://www.newsgaming.com/games/index12.htm
From September 12
Finally, September 12 by newsgaming.com reflects an emerging
trend of shaping games as political statements. The piece is self
explanatory and doesn't need any introduction - check it out for
Check out Sebastian Campion's own projects at http://www.campion.nu.