Shanzhai Biennial is a trio that describes itself as a brand posing as an art project in the gesture of “Shanzhai” – fake imitation goods that have become globally popular and are often produced in Asia. Their current (and third) production is also the most exciting – at Frieze Art Fair, they produced a promotional video using a luxury real estate offered by the agent Aston Chase. The video features ghostly views of the villa (cost: 32 million pounds) accentuated by an atmospheric version of Sinéad O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” sung in Mandarin (the song is a leftover from an earlier Biennale-project, No.2). Asian models have been placed into various rooms and settings of 100 Hamilton Terrace, NW8, whose spacious interior has been designed by Bill Bennette (“timeless design to make a lasting impression”). This interior offers the art project a glamorous, contemporary space, ideal for “entertaining and stylish family living” (Aston Chase). A perfect environment for an art project that aims to be authentically commercial thereby implicating itself in a real economy. Although at the moment of writing, the house is still on the market.
The well known London artist collective (though a little bit silent at the moment) has been intelligent fun to watch, ever since its four collaborators started to work together 2008. The most interesting aspect is the skilful of conventions not only surfing art, mass media, youth culture, digital media and electronic music, but also mediating today’s global work realities, thereby being both avant-garde and modern (critical). Here, their US friends from DIS magazine slightly differ.
In Restless Leg Saga (2012), Shana Moulton‘s female protagonist grapples with the oppressive symptoms of RLS, a nervous disorder defined by an irrational and intolerable urge to move one’s legs that no amount of subsequent movement can suppress. In Whispering Pines 9 (2009), a woman is so devastated by an estimate given by an Antiques Roadshow expert that her body breaks into pieces.
In Galactic Pot Healer (2010), a seer in a pink Snuggie tells a woman that her broken ceramic vessel is beyond repair. Instead, the entity offers her a “healing massage,” over the course of which the woman’s back is kneaded into a replacement pot. In the works excerpted here, Moulton confronts the melancholic corps morcélé, and looks to the mundane objects and practices at her fingertips if not to make it whole, then at least to make it new.
discoandrea is a UK-based Digital Art / Hobbyist member of deviantart.com.
In the comment thread below Sadness (2012), she describes her subject as a “pretty girl struggling with the rubbish set of cards she’s been dealt.” Many of the 421 deviations discoandrea has posted to the site portray women who are missing limbs, provocatively posed; some of these belong to the “Andrea Can’t” series, “highlighting all the things that [discoandrea] can’t do or are of no use to me in my physical state.”
Jodi.org (1993) is one of the most archetypal works of net.art, and one that helped me understand the importance and scope of the genre many years later when I first encountered it in the mid-naughts. I won’t get into a heady analysis of the piece (check out Mark Tribe’s analysis here https://wiki.brown.edu/confluence/display/MarkTribe/Jodi/ if you’re curious), but only tell newcomers to view the source code (Option-Command-U) to understand the method behind the madness of the garbled green-and-black text.
Whenever I introduce a colleague, friend, or relative to the conceptual merits of internet art, I show them these two pieces by Harm van den Dorpel. While “Ethereal Self” was launched in 2009, and quickly became viral within internet art and surf club communities and even in non-art contexts, it’s “Ethereal Others” that completes this most mind-blowingly creepy aesthetic experience. The first site offers a glimpse of one’s splintered visage via enacting their webcam functionality, and the second archives all visitors to “Ethereal Self,” with or without their knowledge. The two sites working together provide an understated take on vanity and internet privacy.
One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age is Olia Lialina and Dragan Espenschied’s archive of Geocities websites that had been taken offline by Yahoo! in 2009. The title “One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age” refers to the size (one terabyte) of their Geocities archive (representative of the “Kilobyte age,” when bandwidth was measured in kilobytes rather than megabytes). With this project, Lialina and Espenschied have saved the variably banal, dark, or awkward years of Web 1.0.