Sm_Art Mistakes

Share Festival Sm_Art Mistakes curated by Simona lodi
Museo Regionale di Scienze Naturali, via Giolitti, 36, Turin / 2-7 November /10 AM – 7 PM

Smart mistakes make fine art: glitch, activism, mutation, serendipity.

The exhibition represents just the tip of the iceberg of art works that fall within the vast theme of error. The works have been divided into three sections – glitches & activism, focusing on the relationship between humans and machines, mutation in living and hybrid art, and the serendipity of chance discovery – so as to give the exhibition its cardinal points. Within this framework, recent works were selected by artists that use innovative languages, representing art in today’s digital and global age.

Glitches are unexpected technical errors that, as mark tribe says, are one of the internet’s fundamental aesthetic properties, an intrinsic feature of the relationship between humans and digital interfaces. A group of artists that has worked a lot with glitch aesthetics is jodi.org, a leading exponent of net.art. The central theme of all the group’s work is interpreting programming glitches on the internet and the electronic debris they leave behind. The origin of the term net.art (net dot art) takes us back to the early nineties when an illegible e-mail was sent to artist Vuc Cosi?, in which all that could be made out where two words separated by a dot: net.art. Their work, just like that of two other equally fundamental artists, Eva and Franco Mattes, better known as 0100101110101101.org, also has an activist streak to it. The relationship between humans and machines is brokered by software which in itself contains cultural and ethical specifications, which is what the artists focus their critical eye on, from open source to copyright. The collective Alterazioni Video also comes from art activist background, as can be seen in the critical interest it shows in aesthetic scrap, amateur production, and the anxiety of on-line overload and system crashes.

Glitch aesthetics are therefore underpinned by the assumption of machine dysfunction, transmission error, bugs, interference, disturbance and communication breakdowns. Artists such as Lia, Miguel Carvalhais, Dextro, Ant Scott and Rosa Menkman also work in this field, exploring errors in the relationship between humans and machines not from a technical point of view, but as a social paradigm of the cultural perception of error, and as an expressive outlet for software-art and generative art. 

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Dextro(A), Algorithmic Videos, 44_0_g21b3_n4_col6_W3b.mov, 2009, software, video proiettore. (courtesy of the artist)

The processive nature of art in the digital and global age also harbours space for error as an element in the creative process. A core dump or the unexpected crash of a computer programme, for instance, can become the artistic material that new York based artist Cory Arcangel transforms into video art, simply by converting a computer memory into another medium: a temporal scan-based video.

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Nullsleep (USA), Data Spills – Kindom, 2009, modified game cartridge, Nintendo NES,projector (courtesy of Fabio Paris Art Gallery)

Instead Nullsleep, aka Jeremiah Johnson, takes low-tech electronic game devices to alter video games, creating a file corruption process and 8bit aesthetic from the sampling of sounds and images from famous console games, such as those for gameboy and Nintendo NES. Remaining in the field of video games, Alison Maeley, programmer and video game enthusiast, is particularly drawn to the strange relationship between art that exploits automatic, uncontrollable and completely unpredictable processes and portraiture. 

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Alison Mealey (UK) Series Unreal Art, 2005 (courtesy Fabio Paris Art Gallery)

Harm Van Den Dorpel speaks to the living world to create a dialogic flux and reflux between what happens on his computer screen, the internet and the real world. The relationship with biological material is built only visually, though it still retains all its mutant qualities.

The idea of error as bio-artistic mutation in a post-human sense lies at the heart of the performance by Stelarc, who recently had implanted a third, soon-to-be-functional ear, grown from stem cells.

Serendipity is a term coined to describe the making of happy and unexpected discoveries by accident. Serendip is said to be the former Persian name for Sri lanka. The word is creating a buzz in the world of new media. in their latest performance, Eva and Franco Mattes call up the short-sighted demon that lies behind the search for authentic contact on
internet chat sites, where chance encounter does not always have a fairy tale ending.

Mark Shepard is creator of the Serendipitor, an application that uses geo-localised technology to take a closer look at the implications of pervasive digital media on our everyday lives. Error is also building things that are project failures, such as Michele Bazzana‘s vehicles, where the unexpected always has the upper hand. his improbable constructions are taken to the limits of physical resistance so as to ignore, as he himself says, the views of those who claim they cannot work, or cannot stay in one piece, sending things and people running ‘out of control’ until they finally implode and reveal their limits.

It is the fine line between error, mistazke and strokes of genius that should inspire us.

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