title>Source Code Source Code: 09/2005


T-shirts As Software

Susana Mendes Silva keeps creating interactive performances and by doing so continues to investigate the nature of social relations. After Artphone and art_room, two performances in which the spectator (user, to be more accurate) had to interact with the device created by the artist, a technologically mediated question-answer situation about contemporary art, Silva developed Live Art.

The assumptions are the same. Even the name of this new performance reminds us of the previous ones and how much she enjoys questioning the boundaries of traditional art, or at least of a commodified, object driven art. In this project there is again a device the artist created, but not a digital one, or at least not one at first sight. It is a t-shirt with information concerning the performance. The information, the technical details of the work of art, functions as the instructions manual for the performance, defining how it is supposed to work.

The user, he or she who buys the t-shirt, will have to perform a determined action, wear it (or not), thus making the device work, interact with it. This performance consists in a set of rules materially formalized in an inexplicit manner in a t-shirt, . The course of action is unpredictable and is completely out of the artist’s control. Once again, through such a procedure, Silva questions how spectator and contemporary art interact, playing with concepts as artistic phenomenon or authorship.

A t-shirt, a simple, implicit set of rules. An open, modifiable, autonomous device. If we look at the user’s role as secondary, if we look at the device, and how it works and changes, the concept of generative art isn’t that far away. Thinking of it as “any kind of artistic practice in which the artist uses a system and makes it function with a certain degree of autonomy in order to create complete work of art”. Live art is put in motion and the outcome is unpredictable (as was art_room’s) being the result of chance and the limitations of the set of rules defined.

But how accurate, how realistic is comparing the human system here described with the procedures of autonomous systems responsible for generative art? What of meaning? Part of this system is made of a user to whom this whole situation in which he sees himself has a meaning and that guides his action. Not only is he influenced by what is written on the t-shirt, but also by his interpretation of the event and that has to be accounted for.

There is usefulness in another comparison. If the focus in the spectator-user’s expectations and in his reaction to the piece, in how the action unfolds and meaning is created from the interaction with the set of rules defining the performance, if the focus is in the procedures rather than in the outcome, we are clearly facing what can be called software art. Even though not recurring to digital tools or the like, Silva is, ideologically, walking through digital art’s grounds, for she is exploring communication procedures, processes over objects, relations over subjects. She is doing analogically immaterial works of art and her tools are concepts such as interactivity, software or self-organization.

Susana Mendes Silva
live art, 2005
person with t-shirt

for the exhibition
private t'shirt
30.09 to 27.10
a loja do lopes

Read An Artist in the Chatroom, a text discussing Silva's performance art_room


For A Safer Internet

ICA's Digital Sudio, in London, is welcoming Vuk Cosic's XL L M Slovenia, his first solo show in the United Kingdom. Cosic is one of net art's pioneers, having coined the term net.art when refering to artisitic practices that use Internet and its specific characteristics as a creative medium.

This show will be on from September 6th until October 2nd and it will include projections of works that were forgotten in the artist's computer and done during what is now know as net art's heroic period. Besides these works, a new comission, specifically done to be shown at this exhibition, will be presented, called “File Extinguisher”.

The new project, “web’s first file extinguisher” as it is said on the site, was first done in 1998 but never shown. After that it was commissioned by Hamaca in Barcelona but that never materialized. And since Cosic had all the files, design and all, he decided to put it up for his show at ICA.

But what is this File Extinguisher all about? It is that, a simple File Extinguisher. Cosik departs from Paul Baran’s memorandum on distributed communications network and assumes that this document was published with a tremendous omission. As he says: “Baran insisted that the true last line of defence of any distributed network would be a file extinguisher. However, he indicated this function with a red dot; due to the limitations of 1960s-era black-and-white printing, this key element was not visible in his publication. We can now recognize that today's internet vulnerabilities are a direct result of this tragic mishap.”

So there you have it: Baran’s model of distributed network, intended to survive an eventual nuclear attack, was published without something very important: The file extinguisher. But Cosic made that final step and created one. Now the internet is finally safe as Baran wanted. So if you have any files or websites you need to delete just use Cosic's new safety tool and extiguish them.

File Extiguisher
Vuk Cosic

commissioned for
XL L M Slovenia
ICA - Digital Studio
06 September - 02 October


Mona Lisa Toogled

C6 is a London-based collective of artists and designers, recently aligned with Tactical Media or Strategic art, who share a decisively anarchistic view of life and a sense of humour. They devellop eventslike digital and physical performance, anarchic stenciling campaigns or fine-art propaganda. The group has opened minds in pubs, clubs and galleries, on the streets and on the web. As a code-slave liberation front of sorts, the designers mock the hype around new media, while showing that they know how to deal with code at the same time.

One of C6's best project is Toogle, "The most comprehensive image buggery on the web". Toogle is a page that mimics Google's look. It also works as a search engine but slightly different than its Google counterpart. Using Google's image search engine, Toogle returns those searches in ascii. This ascii image is constructed out of the word that you entered to search.

Toogle (and the more recent Woogle) uses a search engine as relevant and ideologic as Google and completely subverts it. One can only access one image (not anything more) about the word searched for, but even that image isn't the original one Google found. It is a transformation of it, made entirely of the word we are looking for. A nice way of subverting searching (and finding) information on the web.

Licença Creative Commons
Esta obra está licenciada sob uma Licença Creative Commons.