MEDIA ARTS | News And Reviews

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AEN is the online component of the Walker Art Center's travelling exhibition, "Let's Entertain," and a send-up of the commercial conventions of Web portals like Yahoo! It's got all the genre's bells and whistles: an online store, a search engine, ad banners and the options of customizing colors or choosing a sound track (the best is a muzak-y rendition of "Purple Haze.") The ad banners link to artworks — frequently, sites that savagely mock e-commerce. The Walker's collection of Web works — some new, some commissioned for the show by curator Steve Dietz — is an excellent overview of the state of online art, including media artworks by RTMark, Mongrel and Mark Napier. If the offline version of this exhibition/examination of "pleasure zones of today's entertainment-driven consumer society" is as good as AEN, I'm hopping a plane for Minneapolis tomorrow. From Walker Art Center More about: Advertising/Commerce, Media Arts, Multimedia/Internet
"©Bots" is the latest online mischief from Mark Napier of in collaboration with Yael Kanarek. The corporate ownership of images is the theme of this piece, aptly described by the artists as "part artwork, part conspiracy theory." Taking meme theory — the notion that cultural ideas spread like viruses and attach themselves to us like leeches — and blending it with robotics, the site invites visitors to build their own humanoid pop-culture "icons" from a database of familiar components, then spread these icons into the collective cultural consciousness via the Web. The process is billed on the site as "memetic awareness therapy," and it is oddly satisfying.


"Memes, memorable fragments of pop-culture imagery, bombard us every day through ads, logos, packaging, in TV, film, magazines, and billboards .... They influence our behavior, and may direct our decisions, yet we do not own them and have no say in their design." - Napier/Kanarek