This essay accompanies the presentation of JODI' s Automatic Rain as a part of the online exhibition Net Art Anthology.
The first work by JODI I ever saw blew my mind. Automatic Rain was one of ten works on the first JODI website, or to be precise: the first website JODI had under their own domain name jodi.org, online since August 1995. The late Franz Feigl of Netband showed it to me in December of that year in the artist corner of Desk, an artist-run medialab in Amsterdam. We were preparing Next5Minutes 2, the tactical media festival that would take place in January 1996 and bring together many artists of the net.art group for the first time. Among them was JODI, the Dutch artist Joan Heemskerk and the Belgian artist Dirk Paesmans, who had just come back from an eighteen month-long research trip at CADRE, San Jose State University’s new media laboratory. I was running the radio studio of Next5Minutes, and I only met them a year later at the Secret Net.Art Conf organized by the infamous British artist Heath Bunting in January 1997.
Josephine Bosma with collaborators, preparing for Next 5 Minutes 2. Late 1995/early 1996
In December 1995, on the black computer screen in that Amsterdam canal house, bright blue cypher columns moved, blinked, and trickled down. Until that moment I had mostly seen the internet used in decentralized performances, in installation art, and in more conceptual works. This was the first powerful visual art online I saw with an aesthetic that felt and looked to perfectly fit the new environment of the web. The animated image of Automatic Rain became etched into my memory, but I never saw it in functioning form again: Like much of JODI’s work it was made in accordance with the specific technological circumstances of the day, circumstances that quickly passed.