- Mobile Performance
- Electric Speed
- Schematic as Score
- (Re)purposed Clothes
- Collaborative Spaces
- Device Art
- Digital Dub
- Rise of the VJ
- Sample Culture
By Annette Finnsdottir
When I launched Netfilmmakers 1st edition "Territory" in 2004 with filmmakers Bynke Maibøll (DK) and Jessica Nilsson (SE), we wanted to challenge existing structures for legitimizing video art and film and we wanted to explore and reflect upon the net as an art space. As self-appointed curators we filled out our immaterial domain and formulated our own filters for exploring. We came from different backgrounds: Bynke worked with moving images in the super8 film format, Jessica with video and I came from screenwriting. Our intention was to explore moving images as a language in its own right but also the interactive possibilities and the interference of different media in this context. We ignored the rigid borders between video art, experimental film, mainstream film, and TV-production/ broadcasting and reframed.
The moving images is an universal language and in that sense perfect on the net. Heiner Holtappels writes in Eyeball that film was the most important art form in the 20th-century. "The visual grammar of film was evidently simple enough to take root in every culture, while being complex enough to portray the main human narratives."1 For me it was a tool to sketch ideas, to visually make cultural comments, to create connections, to share memories and experiences. And "...granted by mechanisms of network and digital media like deconstruction, interaction, randomization, multi-layerness, browser dependence, real-time broadcast and editability; alteration, combination and incorporation of various media within video medium or video elements within them"2 developed in these new narratives and aesthetics. In this century the importance of moving images will not lessen but take a radically new form by interfering directly with what used to be known as reality.
Netfilmmakers inscribes itself into "...open questioning and response feedback loop through the net"3 using themes for the different editions, commissioning new works, working with curators and in this way producing and presenting. The artists are offered a browser window as an exhibition space and thereby making it possible for them to burst the boundaries of the player and integrate moving images with other expressions. Some artists use the browser window similar to a wall in physical gallery - displaying two or more moving images side by side. With the 6th edition "Docu_Slash" the intention was to explore the combination of the internet and the film documentary genre. Kassandra Wellendorf made the interactive netfilm "(Don't) Leave me alone"4 which in its simplicity - using ultra short video loops and roll over - managed to create an emotionally and aesthetically strong artwork about a dying man and the user's dilemma of being involved in his fight between longing to stay alive and to let go.
In the 10th edition "Cut up" which I curated with Iben Bentzen, we invited the Danish art duo Mary&Mary5. Mary&Mary use MySpace as a playground for working with remix, samplings and cut ups of different media and used the browser window so freely and seemingly effortlessly which made them noticed and sought for in the established art, video and music scene.
With "Search"6, Hrafnkell Sigurdsson made a reflective and cultural comment on gay dating profiles and expressed the loneliness and the hunger for contact between the user in front of his pc and the user looking for contact and how contact seems so out of reach by staying on different sides of the screen. "Search" would seem strapped in a player. On the other hand social media like YouTube makes it possible to upload video and then easily embed it on your own site. It offers a lousy compression but with it moving images has become a language for everybody to use like writings and still images. Another usable thing about players is that it hangs on to the notion of moving images and screens being inseparable and therefore makes a easy packaging for transitions between different kinds of mobile devices.
YouTube also creates life and relations for your moving images. In that sense to legitimize the need of the curator on the net is precisely this; to be able to "...global collaboration in art's social relations"7. Now the artist herself knows how to code, embed, compress and upload to her own website but most often artists' websites are used for reference. The artist still needs the curator to be challenged, to be filtered, to be represented on a website in a context which is kept "alive". And not only the website but also the community around it with physical events, talks, conferences, parties etc. Netfilmmakers has offline activities like launchings, artist talks and presentations at different spaces like galleries, institutes, cafés, schools and alternative art fairs. The focus is on mediation, presentation, communication and not least on building a community around Netfilmmakers. For every edition an artist has been invited to create a video documentation of the artist talk and these documentations can be seen on Netfilmmakers.
Netfilmmakers has been criticized for being strictly a curational platform. But it has also been appreciated for its filtering, framing and reflective context and for its open and free access to moving images and net art. It has also been criticized for not curating internet-based art like the early net art avantgarde. Now when everybody seems comfortable using the internet as an art space other aspects seems more attempting.
It is more networks than net art that but networks are not restricted to the net. Contemporary art outside the digital realm is also working with reflections, connections and relations. "The visual arts disclosed their full range in Fluxus and Conceptual Art: from a maximum of ethical and social aspiration to a minimum of aesthetic weight.8 So networks are more close to contemporary art than net art seemed to be. Art is being created, used, consumed and related to by a much bigger audience now than before. In Copenhagen we have a website called Kopenhagen which informs about all the new art openings, events etc every week and this has had a very strong impact on the art scene making it reachable and a place to be. People criticize contemporary art for being difficult to understand and even for not being art - not unlike the discussion about what is net art and networks and whether it is art at all. The art space of the internet is more complex and seem to crave an even bigger knowledge because it adds the digital perspective. Yet contemporary art and networks seems to create a much bigger and broader interest for art than ever before.
"The rise of the personal computer brought an opportunity to tempt the consumer into becoming a producer, by means of interactivity. The consumer is no longer a passive spectator but a designer of (ir)reality. The real world changes from a datum into a potential, an actuality to be created."9 As art on the internet develops in real time the curator has to be able to edit instantly and to be able to define new contexts of reflections, relations and cultural meanings and therefore new networks on the go. Moving images is streaming into all platforms simultaneously both as part of the artwork or the art in real time. "The highest ideal in this is to turn the fiction into reality."10 And when the networks happen in real time the text will definitely change to dialogue - will there be time for reflection and for documentation when the reality gets edited into the moving images of the networks?