Winner of the Prix Net Art, 2015: CONSTANT DULLAART
Award of Distinction: WEISE7
In November 2015, after extensive deliberation, the Prix Net Art jury—comprising Josephine Bosma, Chrissie Iles, and Domenico Quaranta—announced that the second annual $10,000 Prix Net Art would be awarded to artist Constant Dullaart, with a $5,000 Award of Distinction granted to the collective Weise7. Explore their work below.
This year the jury looked at the specific role of net art within a larger art context. The main issue here was to emphasize the relevance of a separate prize for works and practices made in the context of the internet, and to highlight critical issues and developments in this field.
Net art has clearly moved beyond the media art ghetto. Artists and art institutions of various disciplines and plumage are starting to explore the possibilities of the internet. Cultural development without the internet is almost unthinkable at this point in time. This transformation of the art field is often described in terms of a post-media, post-digital, postinternet cultural production. While recognizing the value of these developments, the jury thinks that the Prix Net Art should support artists who critically engage with core issues surrounding art and the internet, and with the internet as a medium, a platform, and a network. Special consideration goes to artists that use or reflect upon practices originating in the basic cultures of the internet: the developers, makers, and hackers without whom internet cultures would not exist, or without whom these cultures would be very bland.
The fluidity of boundaries between artist and tech communities and questions of authorship, virtuosity, and the performativity of art in a mediated environment are an important aspect of the work of the winner of the 2015 Prix Net Art, Constant Dullaart. Dullaart’s work stays firmly yet defiantly within the realm of contemporary art, but from a position profoundly informed by the conditions of new media networks—technical as well as cultural, social, economical, and political networks. Dullaart strives for an honest, respectful, yet unembellished approach to the materials and conditions of the network. At the same time his work is full of humor, wit, and critical commentary.
The scope of Dullaart’s work is impressive and reaches from formalistic yet always interesting works to extremely layered conceptual pieces. From his early work, in which he plays with elements and performance of software, to recent projects, in which he reveals a fascination with the history, economy, and context of contemporary artist tools, the network has been Dullaart’s environment physically and culturally.
Dullaart’s recently launched DullTechMedia Player is an in-depth investigation of the underlying processes of hardware production. He created a startup company that produces a video player that is both a useful tool, challenging the copyright barriers between commercial players and video formats, and a Trojan horse to get the artist’s work, a screensaver, into collections and museums. The work highlights the dependence of present day cultural production on a chain of workers and processes that makes cultural production a lot less liberating than it is often presented to be.
In awarding the second distinction prize to the art collective Weise7 (Julian Oliver, Gordan Savicic, Bengt Sjolen, Danja Vasiliev, and others), the jury wants to point to the growing number of hacker and maker labs internationally and the role these play in the context of net art. Weise7 is a strong representative of the return of the practical criticism of the early hacker labs of the late eighties and early nineties. Next to their individual and collaborative works, the artists of Weise7 give workshops about network basics to other artists. In their “Critical Engineering Manifesto” they stress the importance of self-empowerment and disobedience in the present day media landscape. At a time when networks, from the internet to telephone networks, are increasingly unsafe and under surveillance, the sharing of knowledge about basics of technology and networks is a highly critical and sensitive act.
Weise7 are aware of the importance of a deep understanding of technology in a world where both the production of and access to art and culture increasingly evolve in the technological domain. The work of Weise7 can be seen as a continuation of media critical practices in art, which developed from the sixties onwards. The jury sees this type of work as not only valuable in terms of critical practice, but crucial for the circulation of knowledge of tools and materials in the increasingly mediated field of art. Furthermore, giving the special distinction prize to a collective is to foreground the profound way that networks have changed the role of the artist and of the work of art itself. Weise7 represents the fluid boundaries and links between artist collectives, tech communities, and audiences online.
About Constant Dullaart
Constant Dullaart‘s (Netherlands, 1979) practice reflects on the broad cultural and social effects of communication and image processing technologies, from performativly distributing artificial social capital on social media to completing a staff-pick Kickstarter campaign for a hardware start-up called Dulltech™. His work includes websites, performances, routers, installations, startups, armies, and manipulated found images, frequently juxtaposing or consolidating technically dichotomized presentation realms. Recent solo exhibitions include The Possibility of an Army, Kunsthalle Schirn, Frankfurt; Jennifer in Paradise, Futura, Prague; The Censored Internet, Aksioma, Ljubljana (2015); Stringendo, Vanishing Mediators at Carroll / Fletcher, London; Brave New Panderers, XPO gallery, Paris (2014); Jennifer in Paradise, Future Gallery, Berlin; Jennifer in Paradise, Import Projects, Berlin (2013) and Onomatopoeia, Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Salt Lake City (2012). Group exhibitions include Then They Form Us, MCA, Santa Barbara; When I Give, I Give Myself, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam; Algorithmic Rubbish, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam (2015); Casting a Wide net, Postmasters, NYC, USA; Online/Offline/Encoding Everyday Life, Transmediale, Berlin (2014); Online Mythologies, Polytechnic Museum, Moscow; Genius without talent, de Appel, Amsterdam (2012); A Painting Show, Autocenter, Berlin (2011). Dullaart lives and works in Berlin and Amsterdam.
Explore Selected Works:
Jennifer in Paradise is an ongoing project engaged with the virtual archaeological history of the 1988 file Jennifer in paradise.tif, considered the world’s first digitally manipulated image.
Dullaart bought 2.5 million fake Instagram followers for $5,000 and distributed them amongst several dozen accounts of art world-related people, subverting the function of “followers” as indicators of popularity and relevance.
The DullTech project is a Kickstarter-funded consumer project for artists. Dullaart created a China-based startup company to produce a video player that acts like a Trojan horse to sneak an artist’s work (a screensaver) into institutions like museums.
Death of the URL explores the rise and subsequent decline of the URL as a central function for navigation of the internet, recalling a time before the ubiquity of algorithmic search engines as mediators of internet experience.
One of several websites made by Dullaart to play with and disrupt the experience of daily life on the internet, therevolvinginternet.com makes the user’s Google search engine page appear to turn as it loads.
The video live improvised dvd screensaver (humansaver) performance on Amsterdam open access t.v. was part of Dullaart’s 2009-2011 series of performances humorously reenacting the monotony of floating DVD screensavers.
Weise7‘s studio is jointly run by artists and engineers in Neukölln, Berlin, and a home to Critical Engineering Working Group (Julian Oliver, Gordan Savičić, Bengt Sjölén, Danja Vasiliev). Since publishing “The Critical Engineering Manifesto” in 2011, Weise7’s projects have pursued a set of strategies encompassing “interventions in infrastructure”.
Explore Selected Works:
The Deep Sweep is an aerospace probe scanning the otherwise out-of-reach signal space between land and stratosphere, with special interest placed in UAV/drone to satellite communication. Taking the form of a high-altitude weather balloon, tiny embedded computer and RF equipment, The Deep Sweep project functions as a low-cost, aerial signal-intelligence (SIGINT) platform intended for assembly and deployment by public.
Weise7’s book acts as an internet independent wireless server, running from a tiny, custom designed computer inside the book. Inside can be found high resolution images of Weise7 exhibitions, videos, source codes and texts about each of the works.
Newstweek is a device for manipulating news read by other people on wireless hotspots. Built into a small and innocuous wall plug, the Newstweek device appears part of the local infrastructure, allowing writers to remotely edit news read on wireless devices without the awareness of their users.
Packetbrücke plays with the idea of simulating entire network situations by ‘folding’ electromagnetic scape and effectively repositioning existing networking infrastructure to a different geographic location.
PRISM: The Beacon Frame is a speculative response to the general absence of information as to what NSA PRISM equipment actually looks like. The project seeks to provide public direct contact with the aesthetics, technology, and strategies used by states against their publics (and others), retained from critical contact by an opaque and coveted surveillance culture.