Sun, Apr 06, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Art is who you think you are

Questioning the identity of the artist in the Internet age is an art in itself

By Vico Lee  /  STAFF REPORTER

"Is this a picture of the artist?" is the question asked by Tseng Yu-chuan's Let's Make Art exhibition at TFAM.

PHOTO: VICO LEE, TAIPEI TIMES

In Let's Make Art: Web Installation (網路藝術裝置展), Tseng Yu-Chuan (曾鈺涓) examines the interaction between people and the Internet.

On March 26, Tseng set up an "artist recruitment" section on her Web site that is linked to the popular search engine www.pchome.com.tw. After filling in their names, e-mail addresses and artistic statements, Internet users can upload jpeg or gif files of their own creation. The files are transferred to a terminal in the exhibition space where a printer connected to the computer prints out the code that constitutes the images, rather than the images themselves. These jumbles of code on A4 paper are framed and hung on the gallery walls. Visitors to the gallery may sit on a cozy mat where they can browse the actual images, which are projected on the wall too.

Dozens of people have taken up the opportunity to participate in the exhibition. Most of them sent digitally manipulated photos of landscapes or their friends. TFAM expects that all the 420 frames available will soon be taken up.

It is not the first time Tseng has questioned the logic of the Internet. For the last two years, Tseng has been pondering the ways the Internet changes our life. Her solo exhibition Click at Shin Leh Yuan Art Space last year consisted of sets of monitors and computer mouses. Viewers clicked on Internet links, but were taken to sites other than the ones they had expected.

Tseng's new work is richer in content. She opened the exhibition on April 1 by asking viewers to think about the identity of artists in the Internet age. "`Who are artists?' is a question raised by the Internet. Is the printer that prints out the code of the image files the artist in the exhibition? Are the Internet users who submitted their works the artists? Or is the Internet?" Tseng asks. "You may think you're an artist when you send your image files [to join the project], but does it really matter? We are all IP addresses in this project. We are just numbers."

Tseng overturns the conventional question about what kind of work makes a person an artist. This is hardly an issue since Tseng puts on the walls not the images people submit but the computer code that makes up these images.

Although neither the display of the codes or the free-for-all concept is particularly new, Let's Make Art does make an interesting suggestion with its title. Tseng may be the first person to define art as something posted on a Web site with a statement next to it. If the Internet allows you to take any role you like, why should anyone balk at being an artist online while also being an office worker in the real world?

For your information:

What: Let's Make Art

Where: Taipei Fine Arts Museum (台北市立美術館), 181 Chungshan N. Rd., Sec. 3, Taipei (台北市中山北路三段181)

When: Until May 11

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