Art as interactive communication and networking a global culture is a genre that Margot Lovejoy introduces as emerging art in the digital age and is the fulcrum of both Aram Bartholl's and Rafael Rozendaal's work. They both come at this concept in different ways but meet in the middle with their group and large scale global social connecting events. Rozendaal tends to work almost completely web based when it comes to his most well known art pieces, though introduces other mediums such as drawings, oil paintings and hand made books as well as projecting his work and filling a space almost entirely of his production. Bartholl works strategically to bring his usually appropriated computer based concepts off the computer that created them in the first place and recreate them within the real world around us in real three-dimensional form. These two come together with their public events of drawing in digital artists and creators alike from around the world with the use of VOIP communications into internet cafes or other spaces with computer stations and connection to the internet.
Rafael Rozendaal born and residing still in Amsterdam, Netherlands is a interactive graphics artist. He was first introduced to the internet at the age of 16 and to VPRO broadcasting station that hosted various experimental artists of the time such as Peter Keuning and Han Hoogerbrugge. These artists were exploring and continue to expound on what a website could be and play with the speeds of connection to and from the sites and making it all work in their artworks favor. At 30 years old, he has become infamous for his URL animation work that requires interpretation, curiosity and investigation of the viewer to complete the art piece. His work focuses on color and its interchangeability along with layers and textures that switches, breaks or barks with the click of a button. Rafael has been working in this media since 2001 and has close to 60 web domains dedicated to individual concepts of which he sells as collectibles. In an artist statement for his solo exhibition “Thank You Very Much”, he mentions that his choices are made “to reduce, to reconstruct reality into a universal language, and to optimize it for the infrastructure that is the internet”. (The Future Gallery Exhibition). Almost all of his work is interactive, however he sells posters of his interactive web pieces and has created an application for Iphones of one of his pieces called “Clouds” which the user pops the clouds as they come floating by with a touch of their finger. His work often shows his dark humor with creepy and jumpy thematics or sexual innuendos along with his love of old cartoon strips and comics in his hand drawn animations.His work is often very surreal, breaking the idea of having framed art work that doesn't leave the surface it was created on. Images float in and out or come screaming out at you and at times making you quickly close the screen. In this respect his work is very similar to Aram's that in it's breaking of boundaries that normally cage art work in and taking it from it's normal sitting and placing it in a different context.
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Rozendaal has been exhibiting all over the world in both solo and group participated gallery events. His work is most often displayed on large and numerous screens or projected upon the walls replicating itself and surrounding the public space to immerse the audience with his work as if it is almost a living and moving wall paper or paint upon the wall. Mirrors are often incorporated as well to bounce and reflect the piece and encompass the walls, floors and ceilings. Commenting on what exhibitions represent to him on his personal blog at newrafael.com he says “they are a celebration and a research on what computing could look like in the future.” These rooms he's created to hold his art work places the audience within the art and computer environment itself, trapping the viewer in his created world. He continues to talk about what the internet and computer age has brought to the generations today. “The computer offers new possibilities in deception, the use of interactivity and infinity. Those were not possible before the computer and the web made them very easy for artists to share.” In a dream he notes on his blog that Dali asks him to describe the internet for him after Rafael tells him he uses it as his canvas. He asks Dali to “imagine a lot of color TV's around the world in a network, connected to typewriters, and when you touch the screen it starts to bleed.”
Aram Bartholl born in Bremen and residing in Berlin, Germany is also an interactive graphics artist with a slight twist of bringing the work into public space. He has been working since 1995 with exploring the relationships of digital art and the physical world and blurring the line between the two. His work commonly appropriates elements from computer games or the internet's social networking scene and reproduces these elements in a three-dimensional form within real world space. From his artist statement for elniuton.com he says that “pixels seem to be unsatisfied with their binary existence and have decided to jump into the tangible universe.”
Having studied as an architect at the University of the Arts UdK Berlin he continues to incorporate building and design in the psychical to create his public and what has become termed 'intervention' events and performances. 0,16 is a light installation consisting of a transparent paper covered wall built out of cells, 17 cells tall and 6 cells wide. A light is then placed several feet behind this wall and a person or object is placed in between. The cell wall breaks up the shadows and displays them on the front side of the wall as large scale pixels. He has incorporated this idea in several other projects on smaller scales, one being the 'TV Filter' where the wall is reduced for the size of a twenty four inch TV screen and again the picture projected is broken up into large pixels of the actual image and blows out the actual detail to where it is merely large squares of moving color. This has a feel of looking at fire when the image is viewed in video form.
Second Life virtual social network has Sim islands called Sandboxes where users are allowed to create, experiment and play with the various building tools allowed within the viewer software capabilities. Aram has taken this concept and created his own sandboxes around the real world. Supplying the wood and tools, he invites the public along with his own crew of workers to build whatever objects and concepts they can imagine. The first of these 'public interventions' was held in a large open field of Berlin in the Mitte district formally part of the Berlin Wall. This is an interesting community activity and is more about getting people out of pixels and allowing the objects and the people to become apart of the real world. It questions the energy used in creating and building objects in Second Life and other programs. Both are similar to just an exercise of group effort and commendatory.
Margot Lovejoy brings up the use of the internet as a means of producing and creating if not being art itself. However, she questions the issues of content and context as a danger to the artists and their work as to whether the meanings of content will actually get lost in the vast space or the fact that it is intangible and seen only within the pixels of a screen. “To engage in telematic communication is to be at once everywhere and nowhere. In this it is subversive. It subverts the idea of authorship bound up within the solitary individual. It subverts the idea of individual ownership of the works of imagination.” Roy Ascott – Digital Currents, Margot Lovejoy. Both Aram and Rafael embrace these facts of loss of context, content, intangiblity, and ownership and incorporate these dangers as strong points of their art work and the motivation behind each project. Both artists seem unafraid of their work being manipulated or taken. That in fact they wish the work to be taken, recreated and evolved. Aram specifically works with and is a member of F.A.T free art and technology http://fffff.at and his work is actually incomplete without the involvement of large groups or multiple groups world wide. He often places his works with instructions and recipes for others to pick up and continue, to construct and spread like some viral video. Aram's and Rafael's group events string and bring together the long distances between artists working today and place them together within arms or fingers length to communicate discuss and exhibit in large scale.
Tele-Internet and Speed Show's are a concept Bartholl introduced and both Aram and Rafael and numerous other digital media artists participate in. Similar to comic and electronic cons in the meet and greet atmosphere, these events are held in rented out internet cafe's or rooms full of computer stations that the hosts connect with digital artists world wide over VOIP communications and allow for Q and A from viewers and other participants. Other stations are set up for users to work on their own creations and talk about their work while others can sit, drink coffee, and discuss. It has been described as a “blissful semi-chaos that encouraged people to stay and create” and as “a hackerspace, (un-)conference, exhibition, performance and social installation”. (datenform.de/teleinternet/).
BYOB or Bring Your Own Beamer is an event conceived by Rozendaal where participants bring projectors along with their computers and project their art work on any open space of large gallery settings or warehouses. Images are shot against the walls, ceilings or floors, where projectors are hand held, set up on floors or balanced on people as they lay on the ground. Some works include artist performances along with the moveable projections, while the entire event is held as a meet and greet reception and allow artists, participants and viewers alike to explore and question their peers work. These are great events for artists to discuss their work with other artists and people interested in the field. It would seem to be a place of brainstorming and picking other peoples brains to create more and new group related material and work. It would also allow these works of art to come to a larger life and introduce new artists who are continually exploring new media's.
Though working in the same media field these two artists participate in the art world completely differently, Rafael embracing and living within the world of the internet and Aram breaking away from the frame work of the computer that holds these virtual worlds captive and bringing them into the real world. They both, however, see the benefit of social events and bringing the artists around the world together to continually question, brainstorm and delve further into the concepts behind the digital world.