'Irational' Net Art Skewers Systems

The year 1996 seems to have been a magical one in the world of internet art. A number of key arts organizations, discussion lists, and artist collectives were founded, at that time, and highly influential among the latter is irational.org. Founded by Heath Bunting and expanded to include Daniel Garcia Andújar/ Technologies to the People (E), Rachel Baker (GB), Kayle Brandon (GB), Minerva Cuevas/ Mejor Vida Corporation (MEX), and Marcus Valentine (GB), the group's actions often entail activist-oriented political maneuvers, parody-rich 'pseudo-ventures,' and the development of strategies for rethinking socio-political norms and 'corporate aesthetics.' By tackling prohibitive trademark laws, immigration policies, surveillance networks, cartography, language, and other systems of power, irational.org have demonstrated the efficacy of parasitic media and other modes of interrogating systems from the inside out. As pioneering net artists who've since expanded their scope, their work questions geographic boundaries as well as art-world ones, and whether operating in or outside of the gallery, they have always been noted for their sharp humor and ironic wit. Irational.org's projects are documented at their eponymous website, but now an exhibition entitled 'The Wonderful World of irational.org: Tools, Techniques and Events 1996-2006,' at the Hartware MedienKunstVerein in PHOENIX Halle Dortmund, Germany, provides a context for surveying ten years of significant art production and for expanded public interaction. Programs continue through the end of October, so do hop the fence into the area, if you're able. - Marisa Olson