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The first WJ-SPOTS took place on the 27th and 28th May 2009 at the Maison des Métallos in Paris, on the occasion of the digital season "Immatérielles" and of Futur en Seine. Orchestrated by Anne Roquigny, this device allowed establishing "the state of networks arts", by "exhibiting" the point of view of about forty French web-activists, and the sites that they think are emblematic. Associated to this initiative, MCD publishes a special issue in which appear all the people who participated: it is as well the first picture "on paper" of this new artistic circle of influence. Other WJ-SPOTS will follow, in partnership with medias and European and International cultural structures.
First of all, can you explain WJ-Spots to us, what makes this device (that we mentioned in MCD #47) special? WJ-SPOTS is a drift of my more global project WJ-S. This time, instead of presenting performances of WJs (webjays) who surf live in contents (audio, visual and textual) coming from the huge hard disk that is Internet, I turn the multi-screen device into a reflection space and I invite artists, critics, thinkers, inventors, searchers, artistic commissioners and organizers of events to answer 4 questions and to evaluate the first 15 years of Internet. While they comment, analyze and retrace "the assessment" of internet and the way it was invested as creation space, my two collaborators, Anne Laforet and Isabelle Arvers navigate, in real time and at the same time, on several screens, in a selection of internet websites chosen before by people participating.
About this "assessment of the arts in network", what conclusion do you draw of these numerous interventions? The WJS and WJ-SPOTS projects invite the audience to discover Internet in a different context than the office or the house, and offer an experience shared and visible of the navigation on Internet. WJ-SPOTS #1 allowed the guests to show their work, to speak about their experience and to show the singularity of their project and of their thought. This event put in perspective and in resonance the richness of the different steps. We had a great time at the Maison des Métallos and I warmly thank those who participated and those who allowed this first edition to happen.
Just like a "mirror game", I’m now going to ask you the questions you asked the artists… So first, who are you and what can you tell us about yourself? I started creating situations for artists 13 years ago, notably for networked artists, so that they could show their work. Between 1995 and 1999, I was charged of the artistic programming of the Webbar. There I was regularly presenting digital creations and online projects… It was as well the occasion to organize with Atau Tanaka and a dozen of musicians a 3 hour networked concert of electronic music on line, between Paris and Tokyo, and to offer with DJ Choum a weekly programming of live mixes from sounds coming from the internet…. In 1999, with the support of Pierre Oudart, I created 10 mots. One of the first virtual exhibitions hosted on the Ministry of Cul-ture and Communication server that was presenting 50 projects created specifically for the network. I then joined Pierre Bongiovanni’s team at the CICV (centre de production et d’expé¬rimentation artistique – production and artistic experimentation centre) and we programmed in 2000, at the occasion of the International Festival of multimedia art Interférences, more than thirty confe¬rences and performances with international networked artists. Between 2002 and 2005, I worked on Cosy Corner, a series of network performances involving dozens of artists that were sharing sounds and images simultaneously from several cities and several continents. Then, at the first Nuit Blanche in Paris, the project Sleep-less-net where artists installed in a Parisian hotel showed the audience, during 24 hours non-stop, on line creations in the intimacy of the bedrooms. Then Le Tour du Monde du Web, a year of programming at the Centre Pompidou with "net-artists" coming from all over the world, and a series of confe¬rences around the history of online perfor-mance organized by Villette Emergence and the Ososphère festival. I am now developing the project of web performances WJ-S that I present in museums, festivals and art centers around the world. At the same time and for the past 3 years, I also coordinate, with Peter Sinclair and Jérôme Joy, the project Locus Sonus. A laboratory of art audio research.
Talking about that, can you give us news about Locus Sonus and the other afferent projects? This year we are going to continue the Locustream project that allows to an inter¬national community of about thirty people to record sound at their home, 24 hours a day, and to send it via Internet on Locus’ server. These sounds (streams) are one of the research raw materials of the labora¬tory and give rise to all kind of studies and artistic creations. One of the last installations is the Locus¬tream Promenade: a dozen of "parabolas" installed in the public space allow the audience, by positioning themselves under each "sound shower", to listen to these sounds from elsewhere and to go cross sound landscapes of the entire world. This installation is presented until the end of September at Aix-en-Provence and will be shown at the Citysonics festi¬val of Mons in Belgium next summer. We are also working on the next symposium of which theme this year is around the "field spatialisation". We will invite, like every time for the conferences, figures of sound creation and sociology.
To get back to the questionnaire: from an artistic and social point of view, what do you think about the Web? What do you keep of this technical revolution? The first time I went on the internet, I felt dizzy, it was as a kind of revelation on the artistic potential to explore… The real time, the simultaneity, the ubiquity gene¬rated new behaviours, new reflexes, new forms of addictions as well… I like the aesthetic of flow, the brightness of screens, the vibration and particular grain of the images. Their altered quality, the unpre¬dictability of the media, the latency, the potential accidents and instabilities, the fluctuant side of the network… The rhythm, the movement, the clicks and the progression in the substance and the twists and turns of the virtual world.
What is, for you, the theoretical (political, philosophical, etc.) and practical (relationship with the world, uses, etc.) impact of the notion of network? The arrival of Internet favored collabora¬tive projects, ideas exchanges, the political involvement, the intelligence mobilization (see the development of open source programs to oppose to the monopoly of owner softwares). Network artists are committed and critic on their media and on our society, they know how to work in the interstices and corners of the web to resist, to assert themselves, to invent models, to upset monopolies and standar¬dization. With sometimes a lot of imperti¬nence, they inform us and tell us how it is important to preserve the web as a free space, lots of them join the hacktivists and denounce the forms of repression, of censor, that rife more and more on internet.
How do you see Internet in the future, in terms of possible explorations and hybridizations? Forms of hybridizations already exist, besides with embarked systems like GPS or 3G telephones that artists have started to hijack and critic. Game fields are moving, spaces are overlapping, hybridizing, locative media and tactical media currents are developing and inspire new artistic attitude. The future will be, I hope, full of surprises and inventiveness.
Seeing your career and the structures/projects in which you got involved, how do you judge the "institutional" support (centers, subventions, festivals, etc.) given to the digital arts in France? Apart for few exceptions, web artists were in general less helped than others, but that did not prevent them from being productive and creative, and to find means to self-produce themselves and to work together for their project to grow. It is important to be the intermediary among artists, to encourage their commitment.
Published in the Digitalarti Mag no 00.
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