CIAC Centre international d'art contemporain de Montréal

REVIEWS ON EVENTS spring summer 2002

The cyber-kitchen and I am (not) a work of art,
problematics of collaboration

The cyber-kitchen
Jess Loseby

I am (not) a work of art
Annie Abrahams
  The kitchen is the usual space where family, friends and guests gather. It is the house centre and is often symbolizing conviviality. The English artist Jess Loseby chose that room as the base of her work.

It is precisely in The Cyber-Kitchen that the artists come together and join their work. Up to now, more than 30 artists took part to this collaborative project.

Some objects of The Cyber-Kitchen contain a link to an image, interactive or not, a photograph, a video, or an animation. Every artist's work on this site enriches the Cyber-Kitchen and become totally part of it.

However, the collaboration is limited to artists. It is not totally open on the network and does not offer the possibility to the Web user to participate to it. We can then ask: what is an artist? This is a current contemporary art issue and is even more crucial to artists working on the web. We won't address this issue here. Nevertheless, it is surprising that the artist Jess Loseby limits her collaborative project. Isn't it against the basic principle of internet to select the participants therefore limiting the participation, putting up walls between the artists and the others?

A growing number of artists uses the Web as an opened network on the world, such as the text of Bertrand Gauguet, I am (not) a work of art, recently added to Annie Abrahams project Being Human. Gauguet's text is a work that any Web user can interact with, swapping one word for another. As the modifications are made, the words do change of colour and gradually fade away. The results are astonishing, playful and sometimes quite poetic. This is a delightful piece to consult regularly where words and sentences are anarchically assembled. Every user contributes to the work, as the word he will choose and the sentence that will be produce will influence all the sense (or the non sense) of the text, up to inspiring other Web users. A chain is created. The result is not contrived by a limited number of people but by a multitude of users that did contribute at one point or another to this project. Something though slightly cools us down. I am (not) a work of art, directly asks the spectator: what is a work of art? Who is the artist? What is art? Questions that we have seen earlier on relating to Loseby's work, in a totally different context.
Those two pieces address the issue of the spectator's place within the Web art creative process. The Duchamp's "regardeur" is becoming the "spect-actor". Even if the user's space is limited within an interactive work, at least it is now integrated within the concept of the work itself. Finally, it is the process of dispossession by the artist and repossession by the user, which are at the core of a collaborative project. It is within this relational and creative dynamic that the work elaborates its full significance.

Cécile Petit 2002

Translation : Cynthia Girard

The Cyber-Kitchen

I am (not) a work of art
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