by Daniele Perra

"Artcontext attempts to articulate, through words and codes, the need for, and possibility of, an awakening from the nightmare of lousy, incorrigible commercial media." Founded by the artist Andy Deck, who lives and works in New York City, artcontext's aim is to develop a collaborative process in the arena of art and its other relatives, by experimenting with the linguistic and formal potentialities of new media. It's hard to absolutely categorize, but Deck's site principally addresses itself to the power of communication, collective contribution, and the active participation of the public. The work is conceptual in that each element, graphic or textual, can be interpreted in a variety of ways. While running artcontext, Deck also operates the site, where one finds news and links to past projects, such as the interesting Cultural Map, commissioned by "Turbulence" in 2000, which visibly charts the percentage of the presence on the Internet of certain determined categories. The concept is to find a new way to visualize information: shaping the evolution of Web contents with color composition.

Ya Dig it? Is the title of a temporary online exhibition which presents various Internet projects and is curated by the New York artist, Susy Spence. The projects combine graphics, computerized animation, and electronic sounds effects, coming close in many cases to the visual experimentation seen in video game interfaces. The choice of works particularly favors those that deal essentially with the seductive power of animation and color. Such is the case, for example, in Sunsets and Sunrises by Claude Closky, which has freed itself of any recognizable forms in its interpretation of dawn and dusk, communicating these events with the use of dissolving colors; or in the unusual cartoon The Recorder Man by mumbleboy—aka Kinya Hanada, who was born in Japan but moved to California at age thirteen—in which the writing in the speech balloons has been replaced with animated objects and brilliant colors. With the project entitled #39-41, the group C404 present a seemingly natural environment—a sunny expanse or a sky streaked with the outline of clouds—yet this too is disrupted by the introduction of moving geometric forms, with which the visitor can interact, even to the point of changing them.

Sonar is the annual international festival of experimental music and multi-media art which is held in Barcelona and celebrates its eighth edition this year. Their website, in both Spanish and English, is a mine of information on the event itself, giving a detailed programme, news on the competition, and a series of interviews with the protagonists. The site has been created in a two versions: in the more dynamic one, the users might at first have the sensation of being somewhat scattered; they are actually offered a set of options amongst which it is possible to choose the entirety of everything that appears on the monitor. For example, some of the folders containing information transform themselves into giant icons. Sonar also hosts "London Calling" on their homepage, which is a selection of internet projects by British artists, curated by Roberta Bosco and Stefano Caldana. Participating artists include: Heath Bunting, founder of the group, Mongrel, Stanza, and the team Thomson & Craighhead.

The site for the Encyclopedia of new media has been realized in a collaborative effort between the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Ludwig Museum of Cologne, and the Centre pour L’Image Contemporaine Saint-Gervais in Geneva. Besides offering a rich source of information with a glossary and archive of artists and works, it is the first free, tri-lingual catalogue?French, English, and German?that acts as a research and documentation tool for discovering the various artistic practices tied to new technologies. The most dynamic area of the site, accompanied by a background soundtrack, is that dedicated to current affairs and which, among other things, has a section with links to various international artists’ Internet projects, including those of Claude Closky and Miltos Manetas. At the end, there is also a kind of navigational tree which facilitates use.

Plug in is a space with its seat in Basel, which was founded in August 2000 by the association Forum for New Media. Under the direction of Annette Schindler, the space is dedicated to new media and its main objective is to recommend, realize, and support projects linked both to technological innovations and to the development of contemporary art. For example, on the occasion of “Liste 2001,” Plug in supported the fascinating sound and digital project by the group Knowbotic Research. The site, in both English and German, presents the activities of the center, a news area, and a section called “Garden,” which hosts contributions form artists who work predominantly with new media. Among them are Ursula Biemann, Vuk Cosic, and the Co-Lab, a group made up of Claude Hidber, Christian Rohner, and Valentin Spiess, which is actually an active laboratory which creates work that attempts to supercede the barriers between art and technology.

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