A suggestion: check Google Street View before attempting a visit to Angelo Plessas’ The Twilight of the Idols at Cell Project Space in person. Set back from Cambridge Heath Road, Cell has one of those typically understated, slightly obscured East London gallery façades that requires a bit of pluck to find and access. Once across that threshold though, you will find yourself thoroughly rewarded but, given the nature of internet art, don’t expect the challenge to be over just yet.
As part of his ongoing Every Website is a Monument series, Plessas himself began this project by navigating the city’s major landmarks via Google Street View. Using virtual landscapes as a starting point for his interactive web based works, Plessas creates alternative worlds where the audience is invited to play using just a mouse and a screen. In ‘SheIsMadeOfTheTruth.com‘ the movements of our protagonist, who looks like someone born of a marriage between ClipArt and a Miro painting, corresponds to the pace and location of the cursor. The website is also a musical instrument; each part of the screen releasing a series of percussive sounds, creating a unique composition of bells and whistles as our glyph of a woman dances.
Plessas’ websites stop short at being animated games because there is no point system and no end goal. Instead, they feel a bit like the off-road nothing spaces of Grand Theft Auto, where you abandon the game in search of hidden features and glitches (referred to by gamers as ‘Easter Eggs’) at the edge of the program. This is exciting territory. The promise of these secret encounters elicits a kind of feverish, compulsive state in the player, where they can spend ages wandering and clicking aimlessly. Inspired by idleness, Plessas’ websites masterfully unlock this absurd urgency within us by using a language we intuitively understand whilst leaving us wondering why we spend our time doing it.
Friends and contemporaries of Lucky PDF, Raphael Rozendaal, and Miltos Manetas (fellow Greek and founder of the Neen Art Movement) Plessas is part of a generation of artists using the Internet to explore the interplay between viewer and maker. In this exhibition, four websites have been projected from elaborate housing; large white architectural shapes that function as sculptural objects and as giant mouse mats.
The gallery is immaculately finished too. Every surface is pristine white and reflects the moving light from the projectors, taking the online works and transforming them into a completely immersive experience. You could access all of these works online now, their URLs are live, but what the gallery exhibition offers is an opportunity to take our intimate computer worlds, splash them across four walls and step inside.
Angelo Plessas Every Website is a Monument: Twilight of the Idols at Cell Project Space runs until July 22, 2012.