Aram Bartholl : A new way of curating digital art

Berlin-based conceptual artist Aram Bartholl is well known for his work around digital and physical world relationships. He is also the inventor of a unique and playful way to display digital art : the Speed ​​Show. Introducing what could be called " the new wave of digital curating ".

Net art is the poor relative of digital art. Born in the beginning of the 90’s, this specific genre, contrary to many other, requires strong technical skills (programming, IT administration, network administration, etc.) and a large theoretical knowledge (communication, cyber culture, media theory). His implication in the political field (remember that the term “Net Art” is born in Slovenia and has been for a long time a useful place for political contestation in the ex-Eastern countries) makes it a difficult art, a protest art, as constesting as playful. For those reasons among others, the Net Art is a discipline widely ignored by the general public, despite his status of pioneer in the field of the electronic art creation. In this context, the German Aram Bartholl seems to be a good Samaritan. His studies (architecture degree at the faculty of art of Berlin) and his career as an artist doesn’t suggest such an interest for the art creation on line, but his interest for the investment of the public space by the art cannot bring him elsewhere but to generate a concept like Speed Show.

From “Bits on Location” to Speed Show

From the beginning of his research, Aram Bartholl explores the social practices with the angle of our relations with digital technologies, and especially those who allow us to communicate. Geolocation, data archiving, scanning, information access, connection and communication are the main subjects treated in his work. With his degree thesis, “Bites on Location” (a project who was prize-winner of Browserday 2001), Bartholl try to combine public space (the city) and cyberspace (the network), by conceiving of a series of proposals to adapt the physical world to the process of locating data as it really exists on the internet (a principle primary known as " Location Based Services "). A project and a theme close to " Dead Drops ", a performance with which ordinary citizens can connect and drop data in different urban spaces through USB sticks scattered over the territory. A playful project, but also logical, for an architecture engineer for which the artistic issues are also social and political issues.

Appropriation of art and environment

Close to this theme again, the idea of Speed ​​Show is also a way of appropriating public space and invest the country thanks to digital media. The idea is simple and usable to all people: You just have to invest (renting or sublease) a space dedicated to navigation space ( internet cafe ) for two or three hours, or a day , and connect each machine available on the Net Art sites and let people navigate over.

Everyone could be an improvised curator, cheaply and democratically. As it is in many fields today about internet and our access to culture and information, the Speed ​​Show runs curator, galleries and museum space partly obsolete. Even better, it is the perfect way for discovery (and rediscovery) of the Net Art creation. A remarkable, popular and subversive art, made of screens and networks, which here becomes affordable again thanks to the initiative of Aram Bartholl. The German artist also has a site on which the participants post their photos of their own Speed ​​Show. A simple idea, easy to apply, and an effective way to publicize the Net Art.

Maxence Grugier