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Claude Closky's Word Play

By Rhizome

Claude Closky is a French artist who has recently made a number of online works that embody the context of an informational society in humorous, quizzical ways. Among his most interesting projects are a series of lists. He catalogued every Friday the 13th from the year 1 (A.D.) to 1991 (there were 3,415), and reordered every number from one to a thousand, alphabetizing the spelled-out versions of the words. In an online piece commissioned by the Dia Foundation, called 'Do you want love or lust,' Closky presented visitors with a never-ending survey which presumably built a narrative about the respondent, based on their answers, despite the story never really going anywhere. It simply put the observers' consumptive habits on display. In a solo show at New York's Location One, Closky created Television Programs for Internet (TPI), an installation of TVs displaying programs in which animated gifs exist as the equivalent of sound bytes. Despite hours of footage being compiled by Closky, it was obvious that none of it was meant to be watched very long, but instead mirrored real television and presaged contemporary net art in its observance of channel/ net surfing as a form of creative spectatorship. This critique of systems plays out nicely in Closky's manipulation of language. His recent blog, called 'Welcome to My Blog,' featured short, sweet, ironic posts headed by a single word, such as Walk or Monotony, and brief reflections on the significance of those terms in his life, on that day. Despite the artist's emphasis on systems, alphanumeric codes, and the informational, the artist excels at sculpting something more tangible, more conceptually material out of these intangible phenomena. Perhaps most interestingly, he manages to carry out this conceptually rigorous work with an incredible sense of humor. Check out his site and you can laugh along with him. - Marisa Olson

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