“The Internet” is no longer just a source to be tapped over and over again, but also a mill that everyone can water. In the context of this ever-draining data supply, appropriation plays a key role and the idea of contingency is more than ever noteworthy, Super Art Modern Museum (SPAMM) a prime example.
Founded by Michaël Borras (aka Systaime) the online space aims to be the foremost showcase of digital arts by regularly inviting curators to display their latest findings, which are both thrilling and right from the heart. What is at stake here is that nothing comes from nothing, as shown by remixes, mash-ups, cut-ups and recontextualised imagery, a recurring motif of World Wide Web visual culture. Our relationship with images has become more complex and these methods place us in the position of both onlooker and maker. Because, in today’s tech-savvy society, cooking up innovation is accessible for many, making for much to grasp and explore.
If you missed the pun, this virtual museum is the purpose of all SUPERlatives. SPAMM is a virtual space where images in movement mingle with freeze frames, from where visitors forage and store, pick up and spark. This project unfolds across practices, from animated GIFs to online performances and “logarithmic frescos” and artists infuse the web with fugacity, aiming for maximum effect in a short time, through the single-minded pursuit of the answer to the question, “how do images kindle our desire?” In order to achieve this, creators employ strategies to keep us tuned in. One of them consists of collecting, cataloguing and transforming cultural artefacts and experiences in order to explore the subconscious and unconscious mind, the uncanny and the unruly, in both high and mostly popular culture, chipping in to things that everyone can relate to. Pop culture, social networks, movies, TV series’ and video games, people and situations encountered in our daily life, are their playground. JK Keller demonstrates this in the video ‘Realigning my thoughts on Jasper Johns’ by sweding Simpsons season 10, episode 19, ‘Mom and Pop Art’. Image and sound are distorted through the misappropriation of software tools, the original video becoming a distant memory. Erica Lapadat-Janzen and her ‘Pizza glitch’ reiterates the hint to Pop Art, reminding us of Andy Warhol eating a hamburger in 1962, while Jakenpopp converts ‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears into chip tune, utilising both the ready-made video clip, as well as his own arsenal of graphics, signs, and symbols, charting toxicity beyond mere words.
In another vein, the chase of technical glitch is one of the blue-chip issues addressed by the artists giving the illusion of a loss of control, while pulling the strings from behind the stage. Sometimes, they manipulate the viewer, foreseeing and conditioning a reaction to interactive artworks that are designed to drive you crazy or include you in the creative process, like in jacksonpollock.org website, as imagined by Miltos Manetas.
Humor is frequently used to disarm the audience and mock certain social behaviors, conquering the web and, more specifically, our ‘society of spectacle’. This is manifest in the ‘Gagabramovic’ video made by Pascal Lievre and subtending the empty speech of the pop star Lady Gaga on Marina Abramovic, where her game of fooling people literally backfires. Eva and Franco Mattes forcefully tasted the limits of entertainment in their online performance ‘No Fun’ which was banned from Youtube for staging a suicide on Chatroulette and showing the reactions, ranging from the guy pulling out his 3D glasses to someone masturbating.
After an in-depth visit of the SPAMM, we cannot help but equate it to the first-of-its kind Adobe Museum of Digital Media launched a year earlier, in 2010. The website serves as a real working institution, without any door, nor guard, but curated by Tom Eccles. Paradoxically, the physical and material universe is very present, since the designers chose to figure out the architecture of this imaginary museum in a 3D realistic space, integrated into city landscapes like New York, Tokyo or Venice. As for SPAMM, the exhibitions are renewed on a quarterly basis -the average length in a traditional museum setting -and made available for an unlimited period. But there is a major difference. On the one hand, we are beholders contemplating artworks by a single artist within a virtual but adequate framework, and in the other, we tend to be reduced to web users (however active) consuming a world in flux, based on zapping from one universe to another. After less than an hour of drifting, a slightly dizzying sensation is brought about by eye saturation. Such an experience is a mix of wonder and disgust, a fascination for recycling and relativism facing a format that is sometimes perceived negatively. But the dominant impression is that we are in the presence of euphoric creativity and freshness. Taken in moderation, it is widely joyful and enjoyable.**
Super Modern Art Museum will be launching its Belgian arm, spamm.be, in October alongside Les Transnomades 2013.
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