These six URLs following are art. No, I don’t mean that the URLs lead to an homepage with a net.art project. I mean that the URL itself is the artwork.
Web based art, must have an address, an URL, which tells the user where the artwork is stored on the web. This obvious, but inescapable fact has the Swedish artist Anders Weberg among others, thought about in there art works.
So, If you digit www.theurlistheartwork.com/, in your browser you will be taken to a homepage with the text: “The url is The artwork by Anders Weberg, October 2009″. The actual address, the URL is in this case the artwork. Can a net.art work be more minimalistic and sublime than just a simple URL?
The artist duo Jodi, who always use to be the first to explore new media, have of course already used this technique to create net.art. If you surf to the address http://you-talking-to-me.com/, you will find the following monologue, which constantly repeats itself in the browser address bar:
The monologue is taken from the movie Taxi Driver (1976) in which Travis Bickle (played by Robert de Niro) stands before a mirror and talks to himself. Jodi lets the monologue repeat itself ad infinitum just by sending the visitors around in a loop to different URLs.
Sumoto.iki, a French net artists, has created the page This is art on http://lrntrlln.org/p/thisisart/. The URL leads you to a white page with a text saying: “This is a page. Just click everywhere“. The text “This is a page” refers to a painting by he famous surrealist artist René Magritte (1898- 1967) who used to play with words in his titles. The painting This is not a Pipe from 1929 is well known in art history because the painting shows a pipe, but the title says it’s not a pipe, and it’s of course not a real pipe only a painting of a pipe.
When sumoto.iki says “This is a page” well his has right it’s a webpage, but the URL also says “This is art” and since sumoto.iki is an artist the statement seems legitimate. The URL, the title, makes an ordinary homepage a piece of art.
The URL is the core of the Internet and it’s vital to have an easy and catchy URL that the visitors remember. Misspelled URLs of well-known domain names are often used by non serious people to earn money, but artists can also use URL:s to make art. A unique and different URL can make the visitor start thinking about what an URL is and why we use them.
For example artist David Kraftsows’ work http://canyoubelievethisdomainwasavailable.com/ leads the visitor to a white homepage with the text: “Can you believe this domain was available???” The answer is of course yes. Who would like to register a domain that people will not remember or be able to spell to?
Evan Roth has taken this question to the ultimate limit. His online web based new work is a very hard URL to spell (http://asdflkjhasdflkjhasdflkjhasdflkjhasdflkjhasdflkjhasdflkjhasdflkj.com/), but when you finally succeeds to reach the page you are warmly rewarded. You can always cheat and click on the link, but then you miss a vital part of the work, which is the manual typing of the URL. A process that is so important for the work that Roth has created an URL performance available on Vimeo(http://vimeo.com/1140419)
But let us return to the artist Anders Weberg (b. 1968), living in Malmö Sweden and working as an artist and experimental filmmaker. He has become known for a broader public by using P2P technique as his gallery and distribution channel for video art (http://shop.recycled.se/).
His P2P-art works has the release date as title, and the latest is therefore called 101010, and is a 10 hour 10 minute 10 seconds and 10 frames long audio visual excursion. Previous works in the same series are called 090909 and is a 9 hour, 9 minute and 9 seconds and 080808 an 8 hour 8 minute and 8 seconds long audio visual excursion etc. Weberg is a frequent guest at different film festivals and New Media art event around the world.
One of his latest films, Sweden for beginners made in collaboration with Robert Willim, is an imaginative journey through the spaces, the life and everyday world of Sweden, investigating stereotypes of Sweden, like the Bergmanesque gloom, erotica and nature romanticism.
Webergs interests in places are also the subject for the series called Elsewhereness. Its videos made from audio and video material found on the web, material that emanates from a specific place as cities as Utrecht, Cape Town, Manchester or Yokohama.“The audiovisual pieces are manipulated and composed into a surreal journey through an estranged landscape, based entirely on the culturally bound and stereotypical preconceptions of the artists about the actual location.” explains Weberg.
During the last years Weberg also have started to make net.art and URL-art as mentioned above. He describes himself a big fan minimalistic artworks and DigiMag got a interview with him about P2P Art and URL-art.
Mathias Jansson: When did you interests for net.art and P2P-art.com started?
Anders Weberg: I started to conceive this project in the late-90s and when I had just started using the Internet for publishing videos. In the same time “Napster” happened. The P2P Art project was release in 2006 and could be described as: Art made for – and only available on – the peer to peer networks. The original artwork is first shared by the artist until one other user has downloaded it. After that the artwork will be available for as long as other users share it. The original file and all the material used to create it are deleted by the artist. There’s no original”
Basically I make films that are uploaded and shared on the P2P nets, while original files are deleted forever. The shared works starts its new, autonomous life, surfing the Net without any control, in a compressed low-resolution version. When people stop sharing the films it is gone forever. On one hand it’s a way to acknowledge the beauty of work that is existing only briefly. This has been done many times before in the art world history using different media and methods. On the other hand it’s a comment to the precious original.
Also, we currently exist in an era where almost everything is within keyboard reach, and, at the same time, we desire things that are not easily accessible. That is part of human nature. So in a way the project is about creating scarcity with the same technology that is intended to make information readily accessible and reproducible.
Up until now five films have been released and deleted. The shortest was 45 minutes and the longest was the nine hour, nine minutes, nine seconds and nine frames long film that I released 2009/09/09, 090909. The next release will be 101010 released on 2010/10/10.
Mathias Jansson: In 2009 you created a net.art work called The URL is the Artwork. How did you come up with the idea?
Anders Weberg: At that time I had done some net project together with Artist and Cultural Analysist Robert Willim where we included GPS devices, Google Earth and digital video, and I was looking for a more clean net art project and I was trying to be as minimalistic as I could think of at that time.
Mathias Jansson: What does the URL mean for you as an artist?
Anders Weberg: It does mean a lot to me. Identity perhaps? Perhaps today it’s more important with an URL than a gallery? Can a URL be a gallery? Is there a need for a gallery if you are making work that fits in a URL? These are Interesting and challenging times to be an artist today, where the boundaries between online/offline is blurred and I’m always curious on how new technologies are used by the public and how that can be transformed into my own work.
As a sidenote I lost the most valuable asset I have (or had) a month ago when my domain www.andersweberg.com was lost since I missed to re-register it and someone bought it. Since then I’ve been taking screenshots every day of the new site and its ads for small blue pills and machines that will make your manhood grow. Perhaps that will lead to another project.
Mathias Jansson: Is there any similarity between your URL-art and your P2P-art? Which ideas or concept do you like to explore or discuss in your art?
Anders Weberg: I think the common denominator in my more concept based art is meant to comment upon and raise questions around issues of authorship, fair use, copyright, attribution, citation, accreditation, intellectual property, censorship and consumerism
Mathias Jansson: In your latest http://www.thissiteisnotavailableinyourcountry.com/, you will find a similar statement that sites as YouTube presents when there are copyright restrictions and the material can not be viewed in your country.
Anders Weberg: Yes. The project also comment on the so called “freedom” on the net that I take for granted but that’s not the case in all countries.
Mathias Jansson:And what do you think about copyright as an artist, for example you started with spreading you work for free on peer-to-peer networks?
Anders Weberg: I do think the “precious” original always will have a place in a lot of people hearts but today most of us treat all kinds of media very ephemeral without that much care about the precious original when everything is available and free online. Is there a value in an exact replica as a digital copy versus the original?
Many things have been written about these issues but for me the eye opener was back when I started working with computers and realised that if I pushed ctrl/cmd + c and ctrl/cmd + v I had a 100 percent copy of the file.- In the époque of contents sharing through the Net, in fact, we always find ourselves in a new condition of resources ubiquity, always disposable in a million of versions indistinguishable one to another: an army of multiples without an original.
As an artist and given the kind of work I do I think it’s pretty clear how I feel about copyright on my own work. All rights reserved. All wrongs reversed.