Spamm is an ambitious annual exhibition that gathers together a dizzying array of video work by net artists. Spamm was formed in France in 2011 by Michaël Borras a.k.a SYSTAIME, who invited Ellectra Radikal to start co-curating in 2013.
The show freely unites undiscovered new talent with some of the most highly regarded artists now working in new media. This year’s edition, ϟℙ∀ℳℳ▁ℙϴШ€ℜ, features 142 artists and functions as a fascinating overview of the wild world contemporary net art.
ϟℙ∀ℳℳ▁ℙϴШ€ℜ was also recently a physical exhibition at the Parsons Paris Gallery. I spoke to the curators about the significance of moving digital art into the physical space as well as the history and thinking behind the Spamm project as a whole. Though they won’t pick favorites—they prefer to view the Spamm curatorial project in its entirety—we also share some of the video work from this year’s exhibition (click on the link below each video to watch it in the Spamm platform). You can find the full exhibition here.
Screen capture of ϟℙ∀ℳℳ▁ℙϴШ€ℜ, the online exhibition.
Christian Petersen: What is the philosophy of Spamm?
OPEN YOUR minds, be free, love art!!!!
ϟℙ∀ℳℳ lives on the web well before thinking.
ϟℙ∀ℳℳ is an open space that does not contain its boundary.
ϟℙ∀ℳℳ is NO BORDER.
ϟℙ∀ℳℳ is the quantity not the scarcity.
ϟℙ∀ℳℳ is the horizontal space of digital creation.
ϟℙ∀ℳℳ is an irreducible complexity that escapes the domain of words.
ϟℙ∀ℳℳ is the multi-faceted core of being in the world.
SPAMM is constantly evolving. In this sense SPAMM is not based on a philosophy and does not define any.
SPAMM exists, it’s a multiple entity as an image of the network.
Paula Pinho Martins Nacif, <3 take care of you <3
CP: How do you choose the artists that you want to be part of Spamm?
SPAMM gathers a community of artists and curators from the internet around several art projects shared via the social media Facebook. For ϟℙ∀ℳℳ▁ℙϴШ€ℜ, we shared an open call via our Facebook accounts and drove the whole curation directly through contact with the artists in a Facebook group for ϟℙ∀ℳℳ▁ℙϴШ€ℜ. The artists posted their artworks, links, and websites, YouTube and Vimeo channels and we made a final selection from there.
Emilio Gomariz, Finder Fantasy
CP: Do you think there is a difference between curating net art and more traditional art forms?
Ellectra Radikal: Our challenge as curators for SPAMM is to create a no-restrictions area for the artists and the public coming from all horizons, for an online or physical exhibition. To contextualize net art means being online “a lot,” to link web artists around the world via social networks, to open participatory spaces, groups online, to create websites, to develop a comprehensive and global digital strategy partnering with fb friends, artists, galleries, curators, museums, and art fairs around the world.
Michaël Borras a.k.a SYSTAIME: There are no recipes. We are self-taught as curators. We are not here to theorize on what is curation—there are good schools for that. We complete this work. I make something before knowing how to make it; if I know before I do it, it will not leave room for accidents, glitches, and discovery out of all traditional circuits. No, I do not think about all these terms: post internet, net art.
SPAMM shows contemporary artists who work with the tools of our time and who restore this time through their prism. It happens that we live in the digital time, maybe post-digital.
Ei Jane Janet Lin, Selfie #1
CP: How would you define net art?
Ellectra Radikal: Digital creations that use digital technologies and media in relation to the internet; designed by, for, and with the internet; which interact with the Internet—these are net art. I also use Wikipedia. Net art is found less in what we can see and more in the device that makes it exist in cyberspace.
Spamm.fr is one creation of net art.
Michaël Borras a.k.a SYSTAIME: Stop. I won’t say anything about net art or post internet art. It is contemporary art. There is no difference.
Eileen Isagon Skyers, Chitta
CP: What was the art you saw that you understood was net art?
CP: You are both artists. What would you define as your first experiments in net art?
Ellectra Radikal: Ellectra Radikal is my avatar, who was born in 2005 in Second Life—a product of a form of life on the internet.
Michaël Borras a.k.a SYSTAIME: I don’t remember. Ask Google.
János Brückner, Adult Material
CP: What were you first experiences of curating net art?
Ellectra Radikal: SPAMM.fr, 2013.
Michaël Borras a.k.a SYSTAIME: SPAMM.fr, 2011, but I did curate online before that.
CP: How did you two meet?
Oblinof Kohara, WTFile Payaso Cagar Trompada
CP: Why did you decide to work together?
Michaël Borras a.k.a SYSTAIME: A lot of my fb contacts asked me: “are you Ellectra Radikal?”
Because I have many avatars on Facebook… I answered no and took a look at this avatar…
Ellectra Radikal: We are coming from the painting practice, we came across alternative art scenes, punk, techno… We talked about our artistic backgrounds, experiences being an artist, being filmmakers, etc. We found each other.
Michaël Borras a.k.a SYSTAIME: The internet makes it possible to put the artwork before the person. Another art is possible.
Raphaël Moreira Gonçalves, Versus Fantômes
CP: What inspired your interest in net art?
Ellectra Radikal: Living my life as an avatar online, performing, riding with the wind, digging the deep seas of Facebook accounts, searching for artists actively present on the social stream—YouTube, Vimeo, their websites—reading blogs, web medias, climbing the rainbows of glamorous profiles, looking for cats and unicorns, dogs and parrots, octopi and dolphins, piranhas and other creatures, reading, liking, sharing, posting, creating on line.
When Michaël Borras offered me the chance to co-curate my first exhibition, Cupcake, for SPAMM.fr in 2013, I was more than interested! It was a great chance for me to discover and meet more of the artists from this gorgeous art scene. Net art is a paradigm, and I love to be part of improving collaborative work online and to show this new art.
Benjamin Berg, Black Ice
CP: Why did you decide to create Spamm?
Michaël Borras a.k.a SYSTAIME: To see all these artists existing, but ignored by institutions brought me to this observation of one artist: “People do not seem to realize what is going on. We are going to show them.” In short, it is the aim of all curation: to relay, to unite, to enlighten, to develop.
CP: You also had a physical show in a gallery for the launch of this year’s ϟℙ∀ℳℳ▁ℙϴШ€ℜ. Why do you think it’s important to show this work away from the internet?
Ellectra Radikal: “Actualization consists in bringing a thing in time to realize it. Potentiating involves subtracting something from time to keep it in a virtual state.” We go from one to the other in the movement of breaths.
I am not a digital native. I like to arrange the manifestations of art in the physical reality, to meet and to see my friends having good time together, dancing, making music, singing, jumping, drinking, playing, sharing, talking about art, non art, fake art, fruit juice recipes… Seriously?: The internet is COOL online, the internet is cool away from internet :)
Michaël Borras a.k.a SYSTAIME: To show that this is art and its destination is not only online. Whatever we are doing online, our aim is to meet in the real. We are talking about the incarnation of the avatar.
IRL ϟℙ∀ℳℳ▁ℙϴШ€ℜ EXHIBITION X R3FRAG
CP: What are your thought on the monetization of net art? It is traditionally very hard to make money being a net artist.
Ellectra Radikal: It is traditionally very hard to make money being an artist. Traditionally because of the traditional art market rules. But we are “light” and free of many certainties and presuppositions, and we are likely to rapidly evaluate and change the patterns of the market art world.
CP: Spamm is free and the art is not for sale. Is that practical or philosophical?
Ellectra Radikal: Practical—under construction. My philosophy of the internet is: Open Source. That does not mean not for sale.
Michaël Borras a.k.a SYSTAIME: One of the problems of network art is to be not exhibited much because very few collectors have chosen to collect non-physical objects. Very few galleries encourage them in this direction. For example, my gallery owner asked me for my solo exhibition to show digital prints of screenshots from my videos. The post-internet movement could have been born to monetize this practice by dragging it towards the production of physical objects.
Manuel Roßner, 1822 vid05 .RGB color 5
CP: How would you describe your relationship with the internet?
Ellectra Radikal: There are no strangers on the internet, there are Internauts. I love that. It is the Internauts who create the dimension of the navigation online. And it is infinite.
*** In matters of style, I swim with the current ***
When I was connected to curate in the digital art scene, I subscribed to it in an almost abstract way, measuring the artistic practices that Internauts are investigating. I seek, in the first place, the traces, the voices, the sounds, the images of this machine-baby-talk with an imaginary look. I’m looking for everything that allows us to overcome our isolation, the barriers of language and where de-centration confronts us with the foundations of our identity constructions.
Michaël Borras a.k.a SYSTAIME: Internet is my brother.
Elena Romenkova, Walk Through
CP: Are there any submissions to Spamm that you have been particularly impressed by?
Ellectra Radikal: One-hundred-and-forty-two exactly : )
Michaël Borras a.k.a SYSTAIME: A curation is a choice. I will not make a choice in my choices. A curation tells a story. This story is about diversity. Once the curation is closed, the question of one work rather than another is no longer justified. It is a whole dynamic. Each work reinforces the previous one and the following. The idea is also to give the public the space to make its own choice, its own narrative.
CP: What does post-internet mean to you?
Ellectra Radikal: The expression of the reincarnation of the desire; the expression of the need to leave the web, devices, connections, machines, screens; the temptation of the geek… One more utopia of the “technological counter-culture.”
CP: What does the future hold for Spamm?
More exhibitions, more Spammerz, more Art!
Paulin Paulin, When you pretend to be a glitch artist but no one cares
We run an online magazine, so of course, we're interested in what's happening with art on the web. We invited online gallerist, founder, and curator of Digital Sweat Gallery, Christian Petersen, to write a bi-monthly column for us. Every other Wednesday he selects a Web Artist of the Week.
(All images: Courtesy of the artists and ϟℙ∀ℳℳ▁ℙϴШ€ℜ)