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Posté le 19 mars 1999 dans presse / textes -> lien permanent
French Artists Gear Up For X-99

David Kushner Email 03.19.99

A group of French artists and thinkers believes Internet art is misunderstood and underappreciated. So they’re doing something about it.X-99 is the first major event coordinated by Actions Réseaux Numériques (Numerical Networks Actions), a French nonprofit organization dedicated to training the public in information and communication technologies and developing related artistic and cultural projects. It runs 19 to 21 March in Lorient, France.   

One of their objectives is to clarify the meaning and nature of Internet art. Though sites like à¤da’webhave long been flying the Net art flag, ARN contends that, in Europe especially, the field continues to grow unnoticed.

The genre is often confused with digital art. But Net art is unique, because the projects are designed specifically for an online environment, whereas digital pieces often exist offline.

« X-99 will allow the audience to question the contemporary issues related to the use of digital networks from an artistic point of view, » said ARN technical supervisor, Grégoire Cliquet in an email.

For the past year, ARN has been soliciting international artists through its Web site and IRC. The selected participants cover the range of Internet art — from audio projects to graphical environments and even experiments with virtual communities. Concurrent with the offline exhibit, works will be shown on the x-99 Web site.

London-based AudioRom will exhibit ShiftControl, an interface that allows surfers to create and play music online. ShiftControl won a Leisure and Entertainment award at February’s Milia d’Or festival in Cannes, France.

Being Human, a piece by French artist Annie Abrahams, employs hypertext fiction, ASCII art, and Java applets to evoke emotional experiences from loneliness to ecstasy. Surfers can receive a customized computer kiss or post a wish that the artist may choose to illustrate and incorporate into the site.

Jean-Philippe Halgand, an artist in Bordeaux, will exhibit Chapelle Aldente, which means « chapel of rest. » The site is a sequel to Halgand’s previous project, Xmas Day!, a paranoiac, X-Files-style adventure set in a small French town.

For Halgand, the Net provides an affordable means to collaborate with artists and writers across the world. Though the medium is becoming more accepted – thanks to the exposure of festivals like x-99 — Halgand says Internet art still draws a great deal of skepticism, even among the digitally savvy.

« The most unpleasant surprises come from those you’d expect to defend art: critics [and] artists themselves. »

The most common misconceptions, adds ARN’s Cliquet, are based on the supposition that the computer is a tool and that the Internet is, essentially, a gallery wall. Instead, he suggests, PCs — and the Net itself — should be considered creative environments.

Antoine Moreau, an x-99 participant who created an online community for Parisian artists calledRéseau à  Pantin, hopes the festival will turn more surfers into artists in their own right.

The message of the medium, he says, is loud and clear. « Everybody online is an artist, » he said via e-mail. « The Internet is the work of art. The network is an artist. »

http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/1999/03/18583

 

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