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Tonight: Artists Take Over Williamsburg Internet Cafe

by Kyle Chayka on June 8, 2011

Williamsburg's Internet Garage (image via internet-garage.com)

Did you know this week is Internet Week New York? Surprise! And there are art events, too. Tonight only, curator Lindsay Howard will be taking over Internet Garage, a Williamsburg internet cafe, with a team of net artists.

Called Speed Show: Awareness of Everything, the exhibition will take place from 7 pm to 10 pm at 218 Bedford Ave. That’s inside the same mall that holds Spoonbill & Sugartown. Featured artists include DIS Magazine, John Transue and Emilio Gomariz. I emailed Lindsay for a quick Q&A about what exactly a “speed show” is, and how the event came to be.

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Kyle Chayka: What is the Speed Show exhibition format?  Can you explain it for us non-net art folks?

Lindsay Howard: The Speed Show exhibition series was initiated by Berlin-based artist (and Eyebeam fellow) Aram Bartholl in 2010, and has been implemented by curators all over the world, in Chicago, Barcelona, Paris, Rotterdam, Bucharest, Berlin and Vienna.  It works like this: an artist or curator rents a public internet cafe for one night and sets the computers homepage to an internet-based art work. The show is public and takes place during the internet cafe’s regular business hours. Everyone is welcome to attend, view the work and, as Aram notes in his manifesto, “check their email.” I like this format because it’s a really friendly, non-pretentious way to introduce people to internet art, and based on the ones I’ve been to, they’re fun to attend, too.

KC: How did you choose the artists to be featured in the show?

LH: I knew the show was going to be part of Internet Week and reach a more mainstream audience, so I wanted to look beyond the aesthetics of internet art to see what could be gleaned in a larger, cultural sense from the artists, writers, collectives and publications who are working creatively online. Erik Stinson’s recently published essay, “Towards a New Theory of Creativity,” made a big impression on me and I chose to use his description of the contemporary creative as a framework for the show. The artists included in Awareness of Everything follow the structure of the internet — the democratic recycling and distribution of information — as well as the traits Erik describes as essential for being, or becoming, creative: humor, surprise, effective communication and extensive knowledge of a wide variety of cultures and forms. I think that bringing these ideas together will provide a lot to dig into, and reveal more about how these skills are mastered.

KC: Why take over an internet cafe? How will the artists be interacting with that specific context?

LH: Speed Shows have the advantage of presenting Internet art in its natural habitat, without the institutional feel of white wall projections or fancy LCD screens. Visitors are encouraged to tweet, reblog, like and share the works on their own blogs and social media during the show, part of what I think of as an ode to the user’s active engagement and expression, two characteristics that are very apparent in all of the works. Some of the artists will have you surfing through catalogues, others will be interacting with you live on-screen, and all of them will be showcasing recent, new and ongoing works.

KC: Any surprises that we can look forward to?

LH: I sent a personal invitation to the Kardashians via Twitter. They haven’t responded yet, but just putting that out there.

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See the event poster below for more information. Hope to see you there!

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