Matthias Fritsch is an independent artist from Berlin, most well known for his work Kneecam No 1—the live video that brought Technoviking to the internet. Over a decade after he uploaded the clip that went viral, Fritsch now is enduring a long legal battle with Technoviking himself, who sued for the reproduction, proliferation, and unwarranted use of his likeness. In response to the process, Fritsch is making The Story of Technoviking, a crowd-funded documentary that aims to shed light on the legal issues surrounding viral images. Below, Fritsch talks about what it’s like do battle in court with a viking, the ownership of images in the internet age, and hopes for his current project.
My Life Without Technoviking—since the trial began, Fritsch is no longer allowed to use images of the plaintiff's face.
DQ: Matthias, I'm of course curious about the video that originated it all. What was, for you, Kneecam No 1 (2000) before it became an internet meme? Why did you upload it to YouTube? Were you expecting such a viral reaction? What did you think when it happened?
This text has been written for the proceedings of the international conference "New Perspectives, New Technologies", organized by the Doctoral School Ca' Foscari - IUAV in Arts History and held in Venice and Pordenone, Italy in October 2011
The "portal" designed by Antenna Design to show net based art in the exhibition "Art Entertainment Network", Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2000. Courtesy Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.
In the late nineties and during the first decade of this century the term “new media art” became the established label for that broad range of artistic practices that includes works that are created, or in some way deal with, new media technologies. Providing a more detailed definition here would inevitably mean addressing topics beyond the scope of this paper, that I discussed extensively in my book Media, New Media, Postmedia (Quaranta 2010). By way of introduction to the issues discussed in this paper, we can summarize the main argument put forward in the book: that this label, and the practices it applies to, developed mostly in an enclosed social context, sometimes called the “new media art niche”, but that would be better described as an art world in its own right, with its own institutions, professionals, discussion platforms, audience, and economic model, and its own idea of what art is and should be; and that only in recent years has the practice managed to break out of this world, and get presented on the wider platform of contemporary art.
It was at this point in time, and mainly thanks to curators who were actively involved in the presentation of new media art in the contemporary art arena, that the debate about “curating new media (art)” took shape. This debate was triggered by the pioneering work of curators – from Steve Dietz to Jon Ippolito, Benjamin Weil and Christiane Paul – who at the turn of the millennium curated seminal new media art exhibitions for contemporary art museums; and it was – and still is –nurtured by CRUMB - “Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss” - a platform and mailing list founded by Beryl Graham and Sarah Cook in 2000 within the School of Arts, Design, Media and Culture at the University of Sunderland, UK. As early as 2001, CRUMB organized the first ever meeting of new media curators in the UK as part of BALTIC's pre-opening program – a seminar on Curating New Media held in May 2001.
In the context of this paper, our main reference texts will be CRUMB-related publications, from the proceedings of “Curating New Media” (2001) to Rethinking Curating. Art After New Media (2010), a recent book by Beryl Graham and Sarah Cook; and New Media in the White Cube and Beyond, a book edited by Christiane Paul in 2008. Instead of addressing the specific issues and curatorial models discussed in these publications, we will try to focus on the very foundations of “curating new media”, exploring questions like: does new media art require a specific curatorial model? Does this curatorial model follow the way artists working with new media currently present themselves on the contemporary art platform? How much could “new media art” benefit from a non-specialized approach? Are we curating “new media” or curating “art”? ...
The following excerpt comes from the final chapter of my book Media, New Media, Postmedia, recently published in Italian by Postmediabooks, who kindly gave Rhizome permission to republish it in English. The book is an attempt to analyze the current positioning of so-called “New Media Art” in the wider field of contemporary arts, and to explore the historical, sociological and conceptual reasons for its marginal position and under-recognition in recent art history.
DE_ZER Vol. 1
The DEberlusconiZER is proud to announce DE_ZER Vol. 1,
the first of a series of exhibitions in which some contemporary artists
will be invited to give a new meaning to the informational space
"liberated" from the unwieldy presence of the Italian Prime Minister.
Every show will include three works by three different artists and will
last ten days, in an unprecedented adaptation of the codes of street art
and public art to the online environment.
From April 26 to May 4, 2011, three works will alternate randomly into this public space: Pussy, by Claudia Rossini; Lavorare stanca, by Alterazioni Video; and Open Internet, by Aram Bartholl.
Claudia Rossini (1986) lives and works in Venezia, where she
studied Visual Arts at the IUAV / Faculty of Arts and Design. Pussy
replaces Berlusconi with a content even more present and pervasive
online: the picture of a cute cat. Tender and ambiguous at the same time
(because of the sexual implications of the title), the cute cat is also
a symbol of sharing and freedom of expression in online environments:
censor our cats, and we will revolt. Cute cats are thus the emblems of
the openness evoked by the German artist Aram Bartholl (1972), whose
work is often concerned with the internet and its participative culture.
Bartholl's Open Internet is a place where anonymous masses of people
share and manipulate any kind of content, sharing an acute sense of
freedom and the will to resist against anything that could interrupt
this continuous flow of images, texts and informations.
The Italian collective Alterazioni Video, founded in Milan in
2004 and including Paololuca Barbieri Marchi, Alberto Caffarelli, Matteo
Erenbourg, Andrea Masu and Giacomo Porfiri, belongs to the same
horizon. For years, Alterazioni Video has been contributing to this
ongoing process of collective manipulation of images. Lavorare stanca is
the picture, appropriated and manipulated, of a pair of gauntlets,
whose fingers seem to have been adapted to a new anathomy, consequence
of the thousands of accidents at work that happen into general
The DEberlusconiZER is a web tool that replaces the images and
words related to the Italian Prime Minister. The software subverts the
media machine created by one of the most controversial figures in
Italian politics by reclaiming the space devoted to him and using it for
The DEberlusconiZER is a project by Elisa Giardina Papa, Fabrizio Giardina Papa, Giovanni Salerno and Floriano Lapolla.
The artists have been selected and invited by art critic Domenico Quaranta.
Italian on-line newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano DEberlusconiZED with Pussy, by Claudia Rossini
Italian on-line newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano DEberlusconiZED with Lavorare Stanca, by Alterazioni Video
New York Times DEberlusconiZED with Open Internet, by Aram Bartholl
The first Speed Show in Barcelona
Curated by Domenico Quaranta - http://domenicoquaranta.com/>
for The Influencers 2011 - http://theinfluencers.org/>
When: Saturday, April 16, 2011
Where: Bornet Cyber Café - C/ Barra de Ferro, 3 - 08003 Barcelona, Spain
The Speed Show Exhibition Format - http://fffff.at/speed-show/
«Hit an Internet-cafe, rent all computers they have and run a show on them for one night. All art works of the participating artists need to be
on-line (not necessarily public) and are shown in a typical browser
with standard plug-ins. Performance and life pieces may also use
pre-installed communication programs (instant messaging, VOIP, video
chat etc). Custom software (except browser add-ons) or off-line files
are not permitted. Any creative physical modification to Internet
cafe itself is not allowed. The show is public and takes place during
normal opening hours of the Internet cafe/shop. All visitors are
welcome to join the opening, enjoy the art (and to check their
email.)» SPEED SHOW Manifesto by Aram Bartholl 2010
Since the mid Nineties, the Internet proved to be a powerful platform for artists who wanted to bypass the traditional art system and bring
their work directly to the spectator (more often a user, a
collaborator or a prosumer), outside of any institutional framing.
After the first, pioneering years, for many artists the Internet stopped to be the only legitimate platform of activity, and most of them
reconciled with the art world. However, today the Internet is still a
radical environment, that is often chosen to make things and explore
possibilities not available elsewhere. It is still the place where,
in Bijörk's words, you can start your own currency, make your own
stamp, protect your language, make your own flag and raise it. It is
the studio, the exhibition place and the audience. It is the place
where art happens without frames and labels, where it meets popular
practices and occasionally becomes one thing with them. It is, as
video was in the Seventies, “the vacancy of art”.
The art that happens there may sometimes migrate elsewhere, but while on the Internet, it often requires its own contexts and platforms. Some of them are started by artists, and often perceived as artistic
projects themselves: relational platforms where art, in the best
net.art tradition, happens in the dialogue, in the connection, in the
exchange, in the collective manipulation of images, data, archives,
Raise Your Flag! is, in a way, a tribute to the two frame projects it happens within: the Speed Show series, started by artist Aram Bartholl in 2010, which reclaims a public space - an Internet cafe - as an exhibition space; and the festival The Influencers.
The show collects works that are, above all, platforms: places of
gathering, discussion and organization of online and offline events;
production platforms offering simple tools that may help you to join
the never ending flow of works; curated or open content aggregators;
group blogs; individual artworks that are, themselves, the starting
point of an evolving creative process.
Our tip to the user is not only to look at them, explore and enjoy their
contents; but also to get involved, contribute, create and share new
contents and, when not possible, to steal the idea, upgrade it, start
a new platform and raise your flag.
Domenico Quaranta & The Influencers, 2011
Ryder Ripps, Scott Ostler, Tim Baker & Stefan Moore (US)
Jon Rafman (CA), Parker Ito (US), Micah Schippa (US), Tabor Robak (CA) & John Transue (US)
Ryan Trecartin & David Karp (US)
Oliver Laric (DE)
Aaron Meyers (US)
Aaron Koblin (US) & Daniel Massey (ME)
Spirit Surfers (US)
Johnatan Vingiano & Brad Troemel (US)
the digital medium, Benjamin’s theory about the work of art in the age
of mechanical reproduction seems to have reached its dead end. When
there is no difference between copy and original, the aura fades and
rarity can only be artificially simulated. Yet, is it always true?
with Benjamin and Groys, this article shows how, like the mythological
Phoenix, aura can resurface in the most replicable digital artifact:
Go on reading on Artpulse: http://artpulsemagazine.com/the-unbearable-aura-of-a-website-originality-in-the-digital-age/
Here has been developed by the artists with the specific conditions of the MINI Museum in mind. It takes the shape of a digital photograph of a street sign displaying the text “Here 24, 859 >”. According to the Certificate of Authenticity provided by the artists together with the work, «When displaying this work, the MINI Museum should be physically installed along a North/South axis, so that the surface of the screen is running from North to South or South to North. This ensures that the information contained in this digital artwork is accurate and that the distance between the museum and here is almost exactly 24,859 miles at all times.»
Thus, Here can be described as a piece of institutional critique that turns the Museum into a statement about its own relativity in space. Being the MINI Museum a traveling institution, Here provides it with a fixed reference point, according to which it could be localized on the world map: the Museum can be everywhere, but it would always be 24,859 miles from “here”.
Furthermore, the piece describes the Museum as a “there”, and the “here” it points to as a mysterious, distant, fading “elsewhere”, moving as the Museum moves, but always 24,859 miles from it.
Thomson & Craighead got the MINI Museum from Paul B. Davis, its previous – and first – temporary owner. They added the work and put it on show on March 26, 2011 in a small private view at 37a Sekforde St, London. According to the artists, «the work was well received». In the next days, before disappearing to the Scottish highlands for over 5 weeks, they will hand the Museum over Martin John Callanan (http://www.greyisgood.eu/), who will take care of it along the next weeks.
Jon Thomson (born 1969) and Alison Craighead (born 1971) are London-based visual artists, who work with video, sound and the internet. They have been working together since 1993. Much of their work to date explores how technology changes the way we perceive the world around us. They use live data to make artworks, including “template cinema online artworks” and gallery installations, where networked movies are created in real time from online material such as remote-user security web cams, audio feeds and chat room text transcripts.
Thomson lectures at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. Craighead is currently Reader at the University of Westminster, and also lectures in Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London.
The MINI Museum of XXI Century Arts (also known as MMAXXI) is a 7'' digital photo frame bought on eBay equipped with a 4GB pen drive. Founded and directed by Domenico Quaranta, the MINI Museum will travel from node to node around a network of artists, and will host temporary solo shows by the artist owning it at the time.
More infos: http://blog.theminimuseum.org/
Press images: http://www.flickr.com/photos/minimuseum/sets/72157626364697686/