Screaming Screen and Binary Idealism
On 13 January 1997 the following news was propagated in the internet:
»If you want me to clean your screen, scroll up and down«
Below this sentence an internet address
[http://entropy8zuper.org/possession/olialia/olialia.htm] was given and the name of the artist: Olia Lialina. If you call up the given address an opened hand appears on the screen and when the scroll-bars are moved up and down it actually seems as if a hand were cleaning the screen from the inside.
Of course in this work of the Russian net-artist Olia Lialina it is important that she announces herself by e-mail, of course it is important that the click on the given address, the click that calls up the work, is made before the visual sensation and remains the only click-possibility.
However, I do not wish to discuss this in detail now; nor do I want to stress that in net-art apart from the visual effect, that is the effect which we see on the screen and which I will speak about during my talk, that in net-art still two further levels, a technical (the programming) and a social level (the interaction of the user) are added. This important idea comes from Reinhold Grether, the literary scholar and net-anthropologist from Konstanz. He distinguishes the three levels in Desk, Tech and Soz.1
But what I do want to stress, first of all is that when we look at computer-art, strictly speaking pc[personal computer]-art, 2 levels operate together and Olia Lialina´s hand makes this particularly clear: Firstly there is the visual surface on the screen and secondly there is the surface on which I move the mouse in order to interact with the visual level. Let me give you another example:
Mouchette's »Kill the Cat« [www.mouchette.org/cat/]
Here, you must hit an fast-moving button with the mouse. The button is placed in front of the wide open jaws of a cat which fill the whole screen. This is a fairly tricky task of hand-eye co-ordination. If you succeed with the click you are »rewarded« by the question »why did you kill my cat?« And with a further click you must promise never to do this again (»Never do it again.«).