This week, online art mavens Bubblebyte and artist Hannah Perry launched a "takeover" of the website of Create London, made in collaboration with 25 teenagers from South East London as well as a range of contemporary artists. The takeover will only be on view until 13 September.
Bubblebyte and Hannah Perry's takeover of the website of Create London.
As takeovers go, it was of the friendly variety. A row of colored, numbered buttons appears at the bottom of the site; clicking on each button brings up a song and a visual response by an artist. The visual responses appear as transparent overlays (sometimes still, sometimes animated) on top of website content. A rotating humidifier (perhaps an oblique reference to cloud computing?) is paired with ominous industrial audio by Paul Purgas. Menna Cominetti splashes a pair of blue tinted shades over the page, set to the ethereal tones of Paul Flannery. For the most part, these works have no explicit relationship with the site's content, but some strange juxtapositions emerge, such as when Andrew Norman Wilson’s images of Martha Stewart appear on top of the words "create jobs."
With this and the other takeovers they've orchestrated, Bubblebyte have taken a decidedly non-purist approach to displaying artwork online. In their takeovers, host website and the artwork are both visible at once, rubbing elbows. In a similar vein, Bubblebyte’s new front page consists of a moving image artwork that fills the browser window, with information and navigational elements overlaid. This approach to the display of online artwork may not always be comfortable for either the artist or the host organization. On the one hand, artists may not want the experience of viewing their work to be interrupted by other content. On the other hand, organizations may worry about artists critiquing or distracting from their message. (In fact, Create London chose not to include the artist-made overlays on their “About” or sponsor pages.)
But this discomfort is part of what makes projects such as the Create London takeover interesting. Rather than making a pristine, minimal container for the artworks they display, Bubblebyte’s approach allows a productive friction to be generated between the artwork and the context in which it exists. By expanding and refining the ways in which artworks can be included in existing websites, Bubblebyte's work has opened up (if not yet fully explored) the possibilities for site specific artistic practice online.