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january 30, 2001 ::
on the online commissions and artists' commentary

A dialogue between artist *Sonya Rapoport* and critic *Barbara Lee Williams*



public banner :: on the online commissions and artists' commentary

Sonya Rapoport: Jon (Thomson) and Alison (Craighead) -- as we soon felt friendly enough to call them -- were a wise first choice. They were articulate, direct and charming, and captivated everyone in the audience while helping us digest their web site. The main thrust of their oeuvre consists of various approaches to disrupting and/or utilizing the material already presented on the Internet. For example, in order to accomplish "disruption", one clicks on the link to *"E-Poltergeist"* where directions are given so visitors can disrupt the normal use of their browsers with banners, comments and questions.

Barbara Lee Williams: Obviously, the impact of these interruptions would vary in each case, thus the effectiveness and/or impact of the altered 'works' would also vary. Unfortunately, the Thomson and Craighead web site is rather cold -- and very difficult to access, at least on my computer. At the site, there are 12 projects, dating from 1996 to the present, but several of the works are inaccessible if your browser is not Netscape and/or at least version 4.0. However, if you can get past the technical obstructions it's worth considering what diverse methods these two artists adopted to try to engage the audience in their version of on-line conceptual art.

SR: At the panel discussion, curator Benjamin Weil asked the artists to enter and comment upon one of the most accessible works,"Pet Pages." These pet portraits were displayed on playing cards with links to each pet's history as well as further information -- containing, as Alison said, more than you would care to know. Weil's request for commentary on this relatively traditional format was surprising considering that the couples forte is their cutting edge disruptive techniques -- about which I would have liked to have had more technical information.

BLW: My favorite project was one of the older pieces on the web site, *ATTRIBUTED TEXT (1996).*. Unfortunately, perhaps because it is an earlier work, there are several expired links. Nevertheless, the basic concept was clear; the project started with the familiar publisher's statement:

"All rights reserved. No part of this text may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author of this text."

Interestingly, each word in this statement linked to a separate on-line text: for example, the word "All" linked to the scientific study, "A New European Ice Age" while the word "information" linked to an article by Leigh Clayton titled, "Are there Virtual Communities?" My favorite was the link from the word 'part' to "Cloistered Closets: Enlightenment Pornography." Although I am not sure what the connection was between each selected word and its respective link, this project engaged me; I was curious to discern the hidden logic in this piece -- assuming there WAS logic here -- whereas several of the other projects were shallow (e.g. *SHORT STORY*, from 1996, which showed several images with medically related 'instructions').

SR: Barbara, I also enjoyed viewing "Weightless" at the web site, because of the graphic approach to accessing Hypertext links.-- the grid, the little squares inside, and the circles that trigger checked x's.

At the artists' presentation we experienced *CNN Interactive*This work involved random sound clips that indiscriminately reversed the mood of CNN news material. This got great "laughs" from the SFMOMA audience. The audience also appreciated the project which presented guns shooting at words about lost "authoring."

BLW: Both pieces feature examples of creative disruption. Ironically, the work *Trigger Happy*, was modeled upon early shooting gallery video/arcade games -- rather than on some more recent interactive computer game. But its text on authorship was one of the most contradictory and thought-provoking aspects of the web site -- although it did not probe deeply, it did reflect upon the concept of authorship, not only in the age of new technology, but for all artists, at all times.

SR: This presentation, sponsored by SFMOMA, is an excellent example of the growing cleavage between traditional art sensibilities and digital "kinetics."


reposted with permission from *Leonardo Digital Reviews*


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source ::  

Sonya Rapoport
Barbara Lee Williams

Thomson & Craighead

:: open dossier
*01.01.01: art in technological times*

:: grafik
Jon (Thomson) and Alison (Craighead)
credit: straddle3 search the web


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