Art Basel 2021 | Feature section | JODI

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JODI Art Basel


25 Years of Net Art 25 Years of JODI Upstream Gallery presents the work of artist duo JODI, dedicated to signal their position as pioneers in the international development of internet art in the mid 90s. Brought together for an international public for the first time, the presentation includes iconic works, among which JODIs first website, that was shown in the internet art section at Documenta X in 1997, early game modifications such as SOD (1999), one of their better known software works OSS/**** (1998) and more recent work, like \/\/iFi (2017-2019) that has been exhibited at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 2018.

Digital art, while often been under-recognized in art history, is the most radical art development in decades. This statement has been underscored by the digitalization of the art world which has gained momentum due to the pandemic over the past 1,5 years. The NFT boom in 2021 gave digital art another impulse. JODI has played a central role in it since the rise of net art in 1995. Their work has been featured extensively in writing about electronic and media art, they exhibited at Documenta X in Kassel (1997), received the first Webby Award in the net art category (1999) and in 2014, they received Rhizome’s inaugural Prix Net Collaborating as JODI since the early 1990s, Joan Art. Their work was acquired by a.o. the MoMA, Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans were among New York, SFMOMA, San Francisco and Stedelijk the first artists to respond to the introduction of Museum, Amsterdam. the internet. Since 1995, JODI has pursued a programmatic, artistic exploration of the computer In the past years, the urgency of net art has and the internet. Their practice is characterized also been acknowledged more and more by art by chaos and non-functional designs that reveal institutions. JODI’s work was part of presentations the fundamental characteristics of the net. In a at, among others, MoMA, New York, Whitechapel medium-specific way, they (de)construct and Gallery, London, ZKM, Center for Art and Media, analyze the languages of new media: from Karlsruhe; Bonner Kunstverein and Artothek, visual aesthetics to interface elements, from Bonn; InterCommunication Center, Tokyo; Centre codes and features to errors and viruses. They Pompidou, Paris; Center for Contemporary Arts, challenge the relationship between technology Glasgow; Guggenheim Museum, New York; and users by subverting our expectations about Eyebeam, New York; and Museum of the Moving the functionalities and conventions of the systems Image, New York. that we depend upon every day.

Net Art The 1990s witnessed a technological development of unprecedented speed for the digital medium – the so-called ‘digital revolution’. Artists have always been the first to use and reflect on new media and techniques. When the World Wide Web advented in the mid 90s, JODI were among the first artists to respond to the introduction of the internet. Art on the internet challenges the traditional ways of looking at art, like conceptual art did in the 1960s. Net art can be seen as a contemporary avant-garde in more ways than one: it circumvents the traditional institutions of galleries and museums, being distributed across the world for everyone (with an internet net connection) to see. In many cases, the work is interactive and asks for some kind of participation from the viewer. The work usually has no beginning nor an end. Internet art is rooted in disparate artistic traditions and movements, like Dada, conceptual art, Fluxus and performance art. In the field of net art JODI are the Netherlands’ or even the world’s most important representatives. Since 1995 they have been radically exploring the medium.. They invite those who engage with their art to critically reflect upon how the increasing corporatization of the internet has influenced the relationship between users and online platforms.

Art Basel 2021, Upstream Gallery, Hall 2.1 | Booth T1 (1995) Website (HTML, Javascript) Dimensions variable, duration infinite

Visit the work here: is part of JODI’s very first web-based artwork, launched in 1995, in the early days of the World Wide Web.The work is exemplary of JODI’s artistic practice, which is characterized by chaos and non-functional designs that reveal the fundamental characteristics of the net. The infamous website consists of a maze of pages written in HTML code, full of secrets and dead ends. It gave the internet user a feeling of powerlessness. This was partly caused by the confrontation with the programming language and unexpected effects, which were caused by system errors (so-called ‘glitches’). Instead of utopian thoughts, in which the digital revolution would bring about new forms of transparency, JODI showed how the web could lead to uncontrollable chaos, miscommunication and confusion.

SOD (1999) Software (Wolfenstein game engine, C++ ) Dimensions variable, duration infinite

Get an impression of the game here While JODI is widely known for their internet art works, another important part of their practice are the modifications of popular games. SOD is one of JODI’s earlier game modifications. In SOD, the early video game Wolfenstein 3D (1992), in which the goal was to escape from a Nazi dungeon, is heavily deconstructed into a near-abstract maze of pure geometrical forms and pixelated patterns in black, white, and gray. The result is a game space that is loosely architectural and extremely disorienting. Where Wolfenstein 3D’s representational renderings were considered state-of-the art at the time of the game’s release, JODI’s goal was to bring it back to its abstract dynamics to understand the underlying coded “behaviours” of the game.

Wrongbrowser NL (2001) Software (.app, .exe) Dimensions variable, duration infinite Wrongbrowser NL is one of a series of alternative web browsers and revolves around the concept of Top-Level Domains. A TLD is usually the last part of a domain name, like .COM or in this case, .NL. Website names have become valuable commodities, subject to speculation: they are bought up and resold at profit. Each one of the Wrongbrowsers works on the same basic principles. Immediately on being started up, the Wrongbrowser seeks a random three-letter combination within a specific domain (for instance, NL.). If this website actually exists, the Wrongbrowser reproduces that page as text (html. code). If the Internet was at first without boundaries, presently national boundaries are being drawn (.NL, .CO.UK, etc.), possibly mixed with original domain abbreviations such as .COM and .ORG, etc. By restraining itself within a domain, the Wrongbrowser confronts us with this paradox.

view video documentation of the Wrongbrowser NL software here

Wrongbrowser COM (2001) Software (.app, .exe) Dimensions variable, duration infinite

view video documentation of the Wrongbrowser COM software here

Wrongbrowser ORG (2001) Software (.app, .exe) Dimensions variable, duration infinite

view video documentation of the Wrongbrowser ORG software here

OSS/****-%20 (1998) Software on Mini Mac (.app) Dimensions variable, duration infinite OSS/**** is one of JODI’s better known software based works. It was originally released as a CD-ROM packaged with the Fall 1998 issue of Mediamatic, a Dutch magazine on media, art and television. OSS/**** explores the different physical elements of a personal computer – the screen, the mouse and the keyboard – through the different programs: **** ***, #Reset and %20. Collectively, these programs engaged the physical situation of the computer – subverting the illusion of the graphical user interface, and drawing awareness in the viewer to their engagement with their private desktop on their personal computer. The version we show here, %20, features the keyboard and its relationship with what is happening on the screen: the program alters the desktop visually according to various parameters activated by the keys. The sound, and the changing, frequently stroboscopic rhythm with which the images move, create in the user a tension around the status of their own data, as much as an exploration of the key combinations offered by the artists.

Thumbing (2010) Video 52 min.

view an excerpt of Thumbing here Thumbing is a video documentation of a Youtube intervention, or online performance. A recurring theme in JODI’s oeuvre is to flood an online platform with garbage. A feature on the popular video-sharing website YouTube was to video-comment. JODI posted numerous video responses, of them just holding a thumb very close to the camera for a few seconds. Thousands of these clips were distributed on YouTube, filling the site with an endless series of these useless “pokes”. Eventually this practice was converted into a participatory event that was performed at openings and events where they would increase their proliferacy by inviting the public to produce these “thumbing” videos.

ASDFG (1999)

Html files Dimensions variable, duration infinite

Visit the website here: ASDFG ( is one of JODI’s early webbased works. It uses HTML - the simplest and most common computer language found on the web - that creates a glitchy animation of flickering black and white pages filled with code. The web browser will continuously be redirected from web page to web page with strange-looking URLs. When consulting the browser history, all the sites that were visited appear in the list and produce a pattern of the series of URLs. Like this, JODI infiltrates your browser and animates its history page.

\/\/iFi_node#5 (Broom) (2018) Installation (Raspberry Pi 3, Wireless USB adapter, broom)

View video documentation of \/\/iFi here

With their participatory work \/\/iFi, JODI draws attention to the pervasive infiltration of geolocation software into everyday life by allowing visitors to track cell phone signals in the surrounding area. Users are asked to log in to a Wi-Fi network via nodes installed in the exhibition space, which serve as omnipresent reminders that visitors are being surveilled. Once connected, viewers see nearby cell phones represented by different brand names, codes, colors, and shapes. Here, JODI employs a geolocation technology similar to the one Google uses to provide live visit information, wait times, and estimated visit duration for local businesses. With \/\/iFi, the user becomes simultaneously the monitor and the surveilled.

\/\/iFi in Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (2018)

My%Desktop (2002) in the collection presentation of the MoMA, New York

“JODI are undoubtedly among the central figures of Net art [...] they were among the first to use the browser in 1995 as a means of making art. They succeeded in developing a precise artistic language with digital tools and in creating substantial content with it. No one had set an example for them. They were the ones to set standards and provide the references.” Annette Schindler & Walling Broers (2002), (2002) Install.exe - JODI, Basel: Christoph Merian Verlag, p. 54. “Since 1995, artist duo JODI have pursued a programmatic, artistic exploration of the computer and the internet. Trained in photography and video, they began working online while living in the heart of Silicon Valley, where they had an eighteen-month residency at San Jose State University. After learning about the web, they set up a website at the now-famous URL, where they have presented an ever-changing series of works that detour and disrupt the material and conventions of the web.” Rhizome (2019), The Art Happens Here: Net Art Anthology, New York, NY, p. 54.

“The Dutch/Belgian artist duo JODI have a reputation for toying with code in the most random, genius and funniest ways. Their work is always pleasantly awkward and highly visual. Since the mid-1990s, JODI’s work has managed to capture the attention of artists, designers, curators and critics worldwide. What makes JODI’s work so appealing is the apparent ease with which the artists switch between disciplines and their total lack of respect for functional design. Their work ranges from physical performance, to photography, installation art, video art, conceptual art and poetry in code. It is their ‘cross platform’ work in code and the Web that produced their breakthrough in 1996, after which their work became increasingly influential in both online art and design circles. [...] JODI combines a very intuitive way of working with a deep exploration of the machine. They chose to work in the Net because of the freedom it offered com- pared to an institutional art context.” Josephine Bosma (2011), Nettutudes: Let’s Talk Net Art, NAi NL, pp. 71-72.

“Where do JODI stand in all of this? The answer seems clear enough. They are moderns through and through. There is no jodi work that is not oriented toward the digital as its object and material. There is no JODI work that is not on and about the material. They display, in abundance, that great modernist virtue, self-referentiality. The material of their work is, quite simply, the material itself.” Alexander R. Galloway (2016), IDN by JODI West, NL. “If the contemporary art system were not fixated on displays - whether of opulent visuals or of political correctness - and on material objects to be sold, Jodi might be recognized as the most important artists of our time.” Florian Cramer (2002), Install.exe - JODI, Basel: Christoph Merian Verlag, p. 67.

“When asked for their earliest inspiration, the artist duo LoVid simply answered: “Jodi. org !” The name of the artist duo JODI (aka, founded in 1994, carries about the same weight as Duchamp’s in canonical importance. Using a 20th-century analog to explain net art is bound to piss somebody off, but the radical spirit of plopping a urinal in a fine art exhibition lives in JODI’s smart repurposing of the internet’s ugly freight that web design takes pains to disguise. While the web was in the business of curtain-making, JODI was smashing windows.” Gizmodo, Whitney Kimball, 03/30/2020.

“JODI are thus stubbornly out of step with the dominant rhythms of contemporary art. Less obsessed with the cultural or social effects of new media, JODI orient themselves toward the specificities of hardware and software. The resulting aesthetic is, in this way, not entirely specified by the artists’ subjective impulses. Instead, the texture of code and computation takes over, and computing itself—its strange logic, its grammar and structure, and often its shape and color—produces the aesthetic.” Alex R. Galloway (2016), E-flux, Journal #74 - Alexander R. Galloway - Jodi’s Infrastructure.

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