Jodi is a collaborative creation by two net artists, Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans. Together, they have created original artwork via the Internet, using software art and computer game modifications as their main medium.
As predicted, Jodi faces many questions and panicked responses from viewers of their net.art. Can it be sold? Is it political? But most importantly (at least for me) is the question, what is this “net.art”? The interview addresses these questions.
To answer the question whether this kind of art can be sold, Jodi simply answers by saying that whether art is “alternative”, “normal”, or “mainstream”, if it is a material (“be it on a computer screen, videotape, an etching, whatever,” Paesmans) that is good, then it can be sold.
To answer the two latter questions, we will have to actually see some of Jodi’s art to understand its vision. Different net artists focus on different aspects of Internet art. What Jodi in particular is play with the computer monitor’s output. They break down codes, games, etc. to its basic parts and recreate them to form art:
(other works at the bottom of the post)
Jodi describes its work as a “collage” of reused elements or things found on the net, such as a virus. It deals with form and screens rather than content and order. Dirk Paesmans explains by differentiating magazines on the net with their work. Magazine designers on the Internet are concerned with which features should be put in Netscape, how to put two columns of text next to each other, and other technical “stuff”. He continues by describing how aspects that seem dysfunctional or useless are of importance to Jodi. Netscape 2.0 had a background that was capable of changing all the time. This was a plus for Jodi, who saw it as a potential to make movies with them. But, Netscape decided to take this out in version 3.0, thinking it was a bug. Jodi’s response is, “where is the bug?”. Paesman responds to this change: “I can’t see the bug here, it was just a free animation effect that was in there. It was threatening the stability of a certain type of lay out, it was disturbed too easily. So they took it out.” Jodi sees in glitches/viruses an aesthetic value and creates artwork from these unique features.
The interview also discusses the role (or lack thereof) in Jodi’s work. Hypertext is absolutely of no use to Jodi. They describe it as a “battle”. Instead of using works as links as in hypertext, Jodi uses simply what is in the computer or Netscape (collages of things that are found on the net). Because they do not use hypertext, Jodi finds solutions to have people navigate or “have the navigation happen as if by itself”. An example is creating “buttons that by clicking there you DO make a link. So you don’t have to invent a letter A, B, C….”
In terms of net.art becoming an institution or part of the artworld commerce, Jodi comments that the importance is not that they are in an “art.net context” or in a corner or a group. Each viewer has their “own little circuits” and each net.artists has their separate groups. Jodi believes that it is “artificial to keep people in a certain group, because in reality on the net this is not one group. It’s different sites.”
Additional examples of Jodi’s artwork:
http://wwwwwwwww.jodi.org/ (jodi’s first website)
Although I admit I definitely didn’t “get” Jodi’s net.art when I first looked at it (not that there even is anything to “get”) but the more I look at it, the more intriguing it is. It has many elements that remind viewers of computer crashes and viruses giving the sense that something is horribly wrong. It pushes past the norm and seems to say, “Is there really anything wrong with the unexpected?”. This relates to the reading by Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, who explained that software creates a “pleasure of causality”, or pleasure of knowing what will happen next. Jodi completely warps this “pleasure of causality” and makes our comforting cyberworld into something strange and different.
This could also be related to the works of artists like Pollock and Picasso because they created works of art that twisted people’s perceptions of what’s normal and made pieces that weren’t supposed to have a clear meaning.
Jodi’s blog is quite interesting: http://blogspot.jodi.org/
When searching more about Jodi and net.art, I also stumbled upon something called “ASCII art” (ASCII standing for American Standard Code for Information Interchange), which is pictures composed of the 95 printable characters on the computer. ASCII art can be as simple as a smiley face 🙂 to something as complex as this:
just so you know the smiley face was supposed to be : )
Jodi does not use hypertext and their works create “reactions from panicking people.” Dirk Paesmans reasons that it is because people cannot grasp the path of Jodi’s webpages. Software and the function of hypertext have conditioned users that if he or she clicks on a certain link, a certain execution will happen. However, with Jodi’s webpages, the buttons and images created as a collage do not identify a direct path. And as Jodi asserts, their webpages have “no content.” The panic is caused by the user’s adamant belief that there must be a cause and (expected) effect from clicking on a link or a button. The ideology of hypertext has conditioned us to be uncomfortable with things like Jodi’s art.
I don’t want to be a square but I still can’t see how Jodi can be considered art. It seems more like a program of conglomerations. I understand that it is an intriguing concept and amusing too, but to label it as “art,” I think is forcing it a bit.
However, I think the above comment makes an interesting point – back in the day, the works of Picasso and Pollack were not considered “normal” works of art like their contemporaries, but they are praised today as masterpieces. So many in years time, Jodi will be recognized as an art piece. Until then, I shall remain skeptical.