World Wide Wrong

Published on August 27th, 2005

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An overview of JODI

From 27-08-2005 until 22-10-2005

The conventions regarding how we interact with and use computers were accepted very quickly. People all over the world use the same graphic icons and interface. With notes, recycle bins and files, the desktop of a computer is a graphic reflection of a real desk. These conventions appear to simplify the use of the computer for everyone. On the other hand, they also strongly reflect a virtual reality which makes it seem that the user has control over the machine. But everyone who works with a computer knows that it’s a different story. A computer can run amok, freeze up, or simply refuse to do what you want it to do. The artist pair Jodi (Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans) occupy themselves specifically with disruptive miscommunication of this sort.

From the birth of the Internet, Jodi were already actively involved with net art. They simulated computer crashes, viruses and error messages with programs they wrote themselves. These projects were a response to the rules of the Internet, and confront the visitor with the cleverly designed interfaces and websites by showing the flip side of the technology, the possibly ugly side. Before you know it dozens of screens or a page full of programming codes appear on the desktop. But the pair are not computer freaks constantly searching for new opportunities. The goal is not to deregulate or reprogram the computer. Jodi’s interest is primarily in the possibilities the medium has for communication, within which it is primarily the limitations of coded communication that they raise as issues.

In the late 1990s their attention shifted from the computer itself to computer and video games. There are also many pre-programmed codes to be found in the game culture which make it easier for the player to quickly understand the game. Jodi approaches such limits and simplifications with the requisite skepticism. Through simple interventions, they let us see other possibilities and applications. For instance, the color architecture of the Quake game is simply replaced by black and white fields, eliminating the player’s sense of direction and dimensionality. In their latest work they are searching for the possibilities (and impossibilities) of GPS systems.

Just like many older video artists such as Nam June Paik and the Vasulkas, for instance, Jodi are consciously concerned with raising technical standards for discussion, and modifying them. But rather than producing predictable results, Jodi go a step further by employing the unpredictability in the use of software and playing with the expectation patterns of the viewer/user.

The exhibition gives an overview of Jodi, from their first computer experiments on the Internet through their three-dimensional video installations of game modifications.

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