During the last edition of the GAMERZ festival, i discovered the existence of the Copie Copains Club (Copy Companion Club), a community of artists who copy each other. To become a member of the club, you either copy a fellow artist or you are copied by them. It's that easy!

Copie Copains Club aims to highlight the art of copying in the Post-Internet era. Today, the works and their representations circulating on the web become themselves available materials, ready to be replayed by other artists. At a time when production companies and governments toil to outlaw copying, CCC aims to be a space where everyone can freely enjoy the copying: a playground where contemporary artists or geeks designers of all generations and all countries can question their relation to intellectual property and their own creation.

Copie Copains Club is a cheerful, provocative project. More importantly, it offers the art community an informal space to discuss copyright, creativity, plagiarism, fair use of existing images and other issues that the art world has long been debating over but that internet culture has reinvigorated.

It is also interesting to note that the initiative comes from France, a country where copyright infringement laws are particularly stringent.

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Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Joëlle Bitton, Weather Desktop Project. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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.... inspired by Olafur Eliasson's The Weather Project

Copie Copains Club started as a platform and a licence but the experiment was given the opportunity to take on a physical presence when GAMERZ invited the artists behind CCC to curate an exhibition based on the works that follow the CCC rules. Some of the 'copies' merely put an humorous spin on the original, others added depth and an extra layer of reflection.

I talked to artists/curators Emilie Brout, Caroline Delieutraz & Maxime Marion about the CCC experience:

(The artists answered me in french. Just scroll down to read the original text.)

Hi, Caroline, Emilie and Maxime! I like the name Copie Copains Club. It's cheerful and melodic. Why did you chose this name? What did you want to convey with it?

We wanted a meaningful, funny and that sounded good. The CCC is a club of friends who copy each other. Like the project, it is "cute" but also a bit provocative, in particular because it includes the term copy, even if we're actually talking more about détournements, remixes and tributes. The acronym "CCC" is rich in references, and "CCC license" is a direct spin on the Creative Commons license.

Why did you start this project? I remember Maxime telling me in Aix-en-Provence about the situation of p2p exchange in France. So is there a political motivation behind the CCC?

There is of course a political motivation, especially in a country like France where the right to intellectual property is particularly strict. Add to that laws such as HADOPI and a long tradition in which the artist is both protected but also hindered in its practice. The artist is not necessarily a victim of the copy, it feeds on it. The CCC is intended to dramatize a little bit this issue, attacking the copyright idea collectively with a smile and some nice nuances. But we also wanted to create a playground, a space for exchange and dialogue that uses artworks as a go-between.

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Djeff, Super Google Clouds. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Djeff, Super Google Clouds. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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... inspired by Cory Arcangel's Super Mario Clouds

Many people like to repeat Picasso's quote "Good artists copy, great artists steal." Nonetheless, copying still has a bad rep' in society of course but also in the art world. Why do you think there is still a lot of stigma in art against copying?

Copying in creation is a very old question, and it is surprising to see that it is still raised in a society where ownership and piracy are completely mainstream (who has never used one of the first images popping up on a Google search without even wondering where it came from?) What remains sensitive, is the personal relationship that each artist has with their creation, their own "originality". Many artists are still afraid of being dispossessed, yet each work, inspired or not by another one, matters for the personality that the artist will inject into it. The CCC is also a place where you can show without any embarrassment works that look a bit too much like other works (whether they were produced before or after), a place where everyone and no one can be called a copycat.

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S. Aubry & S. Bourg, One shot date painting. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Arnaud Cohen, More Human Than Human. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

How was CCC received by artists whose work had been copied? Did they all feel flattered or did the copies create discontent? Did you find for example that artists who are used to working in tech/digital/new media contexts react differently from artists who are working with more 'traditional' media and ideas?

For an active member of the CCC, being copied is a great honor, it means that someone took the time to reflect on, study, question your work ... The 4th rule of CCC requires you to notify the original author of the fact that they have been copied with a message like this: "Hello, you have been copied with such project, unless you specify otherwise you are now a member of the club and are now free to copy whoever you want". This friendly approach may explain why there has ultimately never been any problem nor removal request. Regardless of age or discipline, the project was generally well received, even by the most recognized artists. And if there is no reaction, we assume that "Silence is consent." This is what the club advocates: we first copy, then we inform, which is subtly different from the standard practice.

How is the CCC database growing? Do you get regular submissions?

Everyone is free to participate and join the club as long as they follow the rules of the manifesto. Such as copying only living artists (Rule 2), or to copy a "buddy" if this is a first copy (Rule 1). The buddy list (nearly a hundred to date) continues to grow steadily. The more the merrier :)

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Grégoire Lauvin, Brrrr! Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Grégoire Lauvin, Brrrr! Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Grégoire Lauvin, Brrrr! Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

CCC 'got physical' for the last edition of the GAMERZ festival in Aix-en-Provence. How did you select the artists who were exhibited? Did you commission some works or did you only chose from the works already available on the CCC database?

Artists and projects were selected directly from the website, but some were still at the idea stage. For example, Brrrr! by Gregory Lauvin existed only in the form of sketches, and the Gamerz exhibited made it possible to produce it. As this was the first physical CCC exhibition, we selected pieces which references were easily recognizable, this facilitated the reading of the overall project.

However, each of these copies had their own relationship to the original work, have very different approaches: distant reference, resonance between personal experience and the one of the referent artist, purely formal détournement, criticism, etc. We were also pleased with the way the works became autonomous, conversed with each other and raised new issues, such as the relationship between "real" and "virtual", transhumanism ...

And do you otherwise work with the notion of copy culture in your own practice?

The concept of appropriation is fully integrated within our respective practices, so that this is not even a claim or a militant act as was the case for artists of previous generations (Sherry Levine, Christian Marclay, etc.) This is a medium like any other, and it happens to be ours. So we very often use the media produced by other people, we focus on their history, on the why and how they were produced, the people they were intended to reach, the paths they traveled and the way to reassemble them in order to produce new forms. This has naturally led us to reflect on issues related to intellectual property.

Thanks Caroline, Emilie and Maxime!

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Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Annabelle Ameline, Où est Raymond? Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Emmanuel Laflamme, Survival of the Fittest. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Réponses en français:

I like the name Copie Copains Club. It's cheerful and melodic. Why did you chose this name? What did you want to convey with it?

Nous voulions un nom explicite, drôle et qui sonnait bien. Le CCC est un club de copains qui se copient. A l'image du projet, il est "mignon" mais un brin provocateur notamment par l'utilisation du terme copie, même s'il s'agit en réalité plus de détournements, de remixes ou d'hommages. L'acronyme "CCC" est riche en références, et la "licence CCC" est une variation directe de la licence Creative Commons.

Why did you start this project? I remember Maxime telling me in Aix-en-Provence about the situation of p2p exchange in France. So is there a political motivation behind the CCC?

Il y a bien sûr une motivation politique, notamment en France où le droit à la propriété intellectuelle est particulièrement lourd, en plus de lois telles que Hadopi et d'une longue tradition où l'artiste est à la fois protégé mais aussi entravé dans sa pratique. L'artiste n'est pas forcément une victime de la copie, il s'en nourrit, le CCC a pour but de dédramatiser un peu cette question, en attaquant l'idée de copyright collectivement, avec le sourire et de jolis dégradés. Mais nous avions aussi envie de créer un terrain de jeu, un espace d'échange et de dialogue par oeuvres interposées.

Many people like to repeat Picasso's quote "Good artists copy, great artists steal. " Nonetheless, copying still has a bad rep' in society of course but also in the art world. Why do you think there is still a lot of stigma in art against copying?

La copie dans la création est une question très ancienne, et il est étonnant de voir qu'elle est encore sensible dans une société où l'appropriation et le piratage sont complètement banalisés (qui n'a pas déjà utilisé l'une des premières images renvoyées par Google sans se demander d'où elle provenait ?). Ce qui reste sensible, c'est le rapport personnel que chaque artiste entretient avec sa création, sa propre "originalité". De nombreux artistes craignent ainsi encore de se faire déposséder, or chaque oeuvre, inspirée ou non d'une autre, compte surtout pour la personnalité que l'artiste va y injecter. Le CCC est donc aussi un lieu où l'on peut montrer sans gêne des oeuvres qui ressemblent un peu trop à d'autres (qu'elles aient été produites avant ou après), un lieu où tout le monde et personne ne peut être traité de copieur.

How was CCC received by artists whose work had been copied? Did they all feel flattered or did the copies create discontent? Did you find for example that artists who are used to working in tech/digital/new media contexts react differently from artists who are working with more 'traditional' media and ideas?

Pour un membre actif du CCC, être copié est un grand honneur, cela signifie que quelqu'un a pris du temps pour se pencher sur son travail, l'étudier, le questionner... La règle 4 du CCC impose de notifier l'auteur original du fait qu'il ait été copié, avec un message du type : "Bonjour, vous avez été copié avec tel projet, et sauf mention contraire de votre part vous êtes à présent membre du club et êtes libre de copier qui vous souhaitez à votre tour". Cette approche sympathique explique peut-être qu'il n'y ait finalement jamais eu le moindre problème ni aucune demande de retrait. Indifféremment de l'âge ou de la discipline, le projet est généralement bien reçu, même par les artistes les plus reconnus. Et s'il n'y aucune réaction, nous partons du principe que "qui ne dit mot consent". C'est ce que revendique le Club : on copie d'abord, on informe ensuite, ce qui est subtilement différent de la pratique courante.

How is the CCC database growing? Do you get regular submissions?

Chacun est libre de participer et de devenir membre du club tant qu'il respecte les règles du manifeste, comme le fait de ne copier que des artistes vivants (règle 2), ou de copier forcément un "copain" s'il s'agit d'une première copie (règle 1). La liste de copains (près d'une centaine à ce jour) continue de s'allonger régulièrement. Plus on est de fous plus on rit :)

CCC 'got physical' for the last edition of the GAMERZ festival in Aix-en-Provence. How did you select the artists who were exhibited? Did you commission some works or did you only chose from the works already available on the CCC database?

Les artistes et projets ont été directement sélectionnés sur le site, mais certains n'étaient alors qu'à l'état d'idée. Brrrr! de Grégoire Lauvin par exemple existait uniquement sous forme de croquis, et l'exposition soutenue par le festival Gamerz a permis de la produire. Comme il s'agissait de la première exposition physique du CCC, nous avons choisi des pièces dont la référence était assez reconnaissable, pour faciliter la lecture du projet global. Mais ces copies, ayant toutes un rapport différent à leur original, présentent des approches très variées : référence lointaine, résonance entre son expérience personnelle et celle de l'artiste référent, détournement purement formel, critique, etc. Nous avons également été ravis de la manière dont les oeuvres, alors devenues autonomes, dialoguaient entre elles et soulevaient de nouvelles problématiques, telles que le rapport entre "réel" et "virtuel", le transhumanisme...

And do you otherwise work with the notion of copy culture in your own practice?

L'appropriation est une notion complètement intégrée dans nos pratiques respectives, si bien qu'il ne s'agit même plus d'un acte revendiqué ou militant comme cela pouvait l'être pour des artistes des générations précédentes (Sherry Levine, Christian Marclay...) : c'est un médium comme un autre, simplement c'est le nôtre. Nous avons donc recours extrêmement souvent à l'emploi de médias produits par d'autres personnes, en nous intéressant à leur histoire, pourquoi et comment ils ont été produits, à qui ils sont destinés, quels chemins ils parcourent et comment les réassembler pour produire de nouvelles formes. Nous avons donc été naturellement amenés à réfléchir aux questions liées à la propriété intellectuelle.

Merci Caroline, Emilie et Maxime!

Previously: The 10th edition of GAMERZ. From dancing trash bag to dichotomic perception + Hold On, when a joystick manipulates Hollywood.

Sponsored by:





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Exhibition DocLab 2014. Photo by Nichon Glerum

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Exhibition DocLab 2014. Photo by Nichon Glerum

I was supposed to publish this post yesterday. Only i started exploring Serial, one of the works selected for the 2014 IDFA DocLab Award for Best Digital Storytelling and i couldn't stop myself, i went from one episode to another, talked about each of them with The Boyfriend and the whole afternoon flew by.

So here i am 24 hours late with the follow-up of my notes from the DocLab: Interactive Conference 2014, a day of talks about the way artists, film makers, designers and entrepreneurs are exploring digital behaviour and redefining the documentary genre in the digital age.

The DocLab talks took place at The Flemish Arts Centre De Brakke Grond and so did the exhibition. The nominees for the Best Digital Storytelling award were lined up in one room and the curated exhibition DocLab Expo: Immersive Reality was spread into the rest of the building.

I was ready to shun the The Virtual Reality Screening Room because i really, really, don't like the idea that i can be seen looking like this. Also i never regarded myself as a germaphobe but having half my face eaten up by a device that dozens of people have worn before me makes my skin crawl. I did it though. I wore the unhygienic headset. Because i'm brave and i believe in taking risks in order to write my blog. I even liked some of the works....

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Felix & Paul Studio, Strangers with Patrick Watson

In particular Strangers with Patrick Watson by Felix & Paul Studio. You put the unsanitary Oculus Rift goggles on (seriously, am i really the one who's got a problem with oculus hygiene???) and you find yourself transported into the studio loft of musician Patrick Watson in Montréal. He's attempting to compose some music and his dog is relaxing on the floor. And so was i. Relaxing, not on the floor. There is nothing to do for you, except look around and enjoy the scene. It's peaceful and pleasant, there is no need for awkward keyboard manipulation in the dark.

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Dries Depoorter, Trojan Offices. Exhibition DocLab 2014. Photo by Nichon Glerum

The retro-looking Trojan Offices installation brings us back to the early nineties when computer scientists at the University of Cambridge scientists rigged up a camera to monitor the coffee pot located in the main computer lab and casually invented the webcam.

Nowadays, countless numbers of webcams are streaming live to the internet, indexed by search engines without permission. With a simple hack, artist Dries Depoorter gained access to them, selected half a dozen of them in order to give us a live glimpse into unsuspecting coffeepots and offices from all over the world.

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Exhibition DocLab 2014. Photo by Nichon Glerum

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Exhibition DocLab 2014. Photo by Nichon Glerum

The most compelling part of the day for me was when i discovered the nominees of the Digital Storytelling competition. Because the focus of the selection is as much on new forms of interactivity as it is on strategies to weave a compelling story, all the projects were deep, multi-layered and compelling. Some took me ages to explore. Cue to...

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Julie Snyder, Sarah Koenig, Serial, 2014

Serial is a weekly podcast that investigates the true circumstances behind the murder of a Baltimore high school girl. Hae Min Lee was found strangled in a park in 1999. Her former boyfriend Adnan Syed was sent to prison with a life sentence on the basis of one testimony only. No physical evidence linked Syed to the crime and he has always claimed he is innocent. In the podcast producer Sarah Koenig takes listeners back to 1999 and shares interviews with people involved in the affair, audio archives from the trial and snippets of conversation between the prisoner and the journalist. The website that accompanies the quest also presents maps, photos, copies of handwritten letters, etc. The audience discovers along with the makers of the programme that the story has multiple layers and inconsistencies.

Serial is more gripping than many lavishly produced tv series or movies. One of the characteristics of the show is that it remains ambiguous, you have the feeling that the journalist doesn't have an agenda, she slowly uncovers evidences along the way. Like her, you might not be able to make up your mind and figure out whether Syed was guilty or innocent. I'm glad the podcast is the winner of the 2014 IDFA DocLab Award for Best Digital Storytelling.

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Owen Mundy, I Know Where Your Cat Lives, 2014

Owen Mundy, I Know Where Your Cat Lives, 2014

Every day, hundreds of thousands of cat owners upload photos of their pet on photosharing websites. I Know Where Your Cat Lives collects the images, retrieves the latitude and longitude coordinates embedded by many cameras and visualizes the location of the cats. The databank is charming, cats are so irresistible that in some countries feline photos are more popular than selfies. But as the title of the work suggests, there is also a slightly creepy dimension to the project as it makes you realize that once a piece of personal data is online, you lose control over it.

The option "Cats by country" shows how many cat photos have been uploaded in a given nation. This is why the makers themselves say that "the maps are perhaps a better representation of globalism, access to smart phones, and relaxed consideration for individual privacy."


Empire: 7º00 N 81º00 E (excerpt)

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Eline Jongsma and Kel O'Neill, Empire Interactive, 2014

Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, Ghana, etc. Dutch colonialism has left its marks across the world. With Empire Interactive, Eline Jongsma and Kel O'Neill investigate into the aftershocks of the first global capitalist endeavor, Dutch colonialism. The multi media works shows how little known enclaves of post-colonialism are geographically distant from each other, yet strangely united by their past exposure to colonial imperialism.

As the videos posted on vimeo demonstrate, the long-term impact of Dutch colonialism is truly astonishing: from the private town for white people in South Africa and other signs of a nostalgia for the Apartheid era, to the man seen as a god by the inhabitants a full-size replica Dutch village built in the middle of the Sri Lankan jungle, and the WWII enthusiasts who dress as members of the Waffen SS and proceed to military maneuvres on the island of Java.

Empire is an online, portable version of an exhibition. As the artists explained in an interview with Indiewood: Originally, in installation form, the project allows viewers to wander from installation to installation, and from story to story. As a viewer, you get to be a bit more autonomous than you are used to: we give you the parts, but you do the labor. We are trying to use the same principles in the interactive online version. In that sense, we think that transmedia art broadens the horizon of visual storytelling and gives both the creator and the audience more power to experiment than they may have with other art forms. It doesn't replace "traditional" film, it just offers a different way of going about things.

The Empire project also exists in the form of a limited edition book.

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Exhibition DocLab 2014. Photo by Nichon Glerum

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Owerri Nigeria (contributed by Asonzeh Ukah)

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New Delhi (contributed by Metropolis)

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Uyo, Akwa Ibom State Nigeria (contributed by Asonzeh Ukah)

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Bregtje van der Haak, Richard Vijgen, Atlas of Pentecostalism, 2013. DIVINE INTERVENTIONS map that shows the global distribution of manifestations of the Holy Spirit as reported on Twitter. The map is produced by a computer program that searches for tweets reporting #miracles, #blessings and #healings worldwide and is updated daily

Pentecostalism claims that the Holy Spirit is here and now. I've no idea what that might mean but i must be in a minority because Pentecotalism is believed to be the fastest growing religion in the world.

Atlas of Pentecostalism, by documentary filmmaker Bregtje van der Haak and information designer Richard Vijgen, aims to develop a reusable model for reporting on dynamic global trends and crises, incorporating crowdsourcing, big data, interviews, academic research and visual information.

The work allows you to investigate the religion through photos of church buildings and logos, maps of belief in the devil, interview with experts in anthropology, etc. Anyone can contribute photos to the permanently expanding Atlas of Pentecostalism. You can also 'download the website' as an e-book or print-on-demand book, which freezes the dynamic data at the moment of ordering.

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Dirk Jan Visser, Jan Rothuizen, Martijn van Tol, Refugee Republic (detail), 2014

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Dirk Jan Visser, Jan Rothuizen, Martijn van Tol, Refugee Republic (detail), 2014

Refugee Republic challenges our view of refugee camps. They are places of displacement, misery and distress but that's only part of the story. Life rebuilds itself in a refugee camp: bakers prepare the bread, children go to school, people fall in love. Skipping from photo to video to drawings to text in a very fluid way, the interactive documentary allows you to step inside Camp Domiz, a refugee camp in northern Iraq where some 64,000 inhabitants, mostly Syrian Kurds, live.

More images from DocLab 2014:

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Exhibition DocLab 2014. Photo by Nichon Glerum

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Zilla van den Born, Oh My Gosh, Zilla. Photo by Nichon Glerum

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Exhibition DocLab 2014. Photo by Nichon Glerum

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Cucalu: Rediscover Reality. Exhibition DocLab 2014. Photo by Nichon Glerum

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BeAnotherLab, Machine to be another. Photo by Nichon Glerum

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BeAnotherLab, Machine to be another. Photo by Nichon Glerum

DocLab expo took place at The Flemish Arts Centre De Brakke Grond in Amsterdam. The exhibition is over, alas! but the show Pieter Van den Bosch. Aanslagen zonder gevolgen opens tomorrow and it looks really good.

More images on Brakke Grond facebook page.

Previously: James George's talk at the DocLab Interactive Conference and My notes from DocLab: Interactive Conference 2014.

As the title of this post implies, i was in Amsterdam on Sunday for the DocLab Interactive Conference, part of the Immersive Reality program of the famous documentary festival.

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James George at the DocLab Interactive Conference. Photo by Nichon Glerum

The conference (ridiculously interesting and accompanied by an exhibition i wish i could see all over again but more about all that next week) looked at how practitioners redefine the documentary genre in the digital age. In his talk, artist James George presented artistic projects that demonstrate how fast computational photography is evolving. Most of the project he commented on were new to me but more importantly, once they were stitched together, they formed a picture of how innovations are changing our relation to the essence, authorship and even definition of the image. Here are the notes i took during his fast and efficient slideshow of artistic works:

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Erik Kessels, 24hrs of Photos

Erik Kessels printed out every photo uploaded on Flickr over a 24-hour period. Visitors of the show could literally drown into a sea of images.

The work, commented George, functions more as data visualization than as a photo installation.

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Penelope Umbrico, Suns (From Sunsets) from Flickr, 2006-ongoing. Installation view, SF MoMA

In 2006, Penelope Umbrico searched for 'sunset' on Flickr back. She then printed the 541,795 matches and assembled them into one wall-size collage of photographs. She said. "I take the sheer quantity of images online as a collective archive that represents us - a constantly changing auto-portrait."

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With 9 Eyes ongoing work, Jon Rafman shows that you don't need to be a photographer to create photos. The artist spent hours pouring over google street view to spot the inadvertently eerie or poetic sights captured by the nine lenses of the Google Street View camera cars.

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Clement Valle, Postcards from Google Earth

Clement Valle fortuitously discovered broken images on Google Earth. The glitches are the result of the constant and automated data collection handled by computer algorithms. In these "competing visual inputs", the 3D modellings of Earth's surfaces fail to align with the corresponding aerial photography.

Google Earth is a database disguised as a photographic representation. These uncanny images focus our attention on that process itself, and the network of algorithms, computers, storage systems, automated cameras, maps, pilots, engineers, photographers, surveyors and map-makers that generate them.

Teehan+Lax Labs, Google Street View Hyperlapse

Teehan and Lax created a tool that taps into Street View imagery and pulls it together to create an animated tour. Pick the start and end points on Google Maps and Hyperlapse stitches together a rolling scene of Street View imagery as if you were driving the GSV car.

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Staro Sajmište

Living Death Camp, by Forensic Architecture and ScanLAB, combines terrestrial laser scanning with ground penetrating radar to dissect the layers of life and evidence at two concentration camp sites in former Yugoslavia.

But how about the camera? When is the camera of the future going to emerge? What is it going to be like? It will probably be more similar to a database than to an image. In his keynote speech concluding the Vimeo Festival + Awards in 2010, Bruce Sterling described his prediction of the future of imaging technology. For him a camera of the future may function as follows: "It simply absorbs every photon that touches it from any angle. And then in order to take a picture I simply tell the system to calculate what that picture would have looked like from that angle at that moment. I just send it as a computational problem out in to the cloud wirelessly."

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DepthEditorDebug

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DepthEditorDebug

In mid-2005, New York City MTA commissioned a weapon manufacturer to make a futuristic anti-terror surveillance system. The images were to be fed directly into computers, watched by algorithm and alerts would be sent automatically when danger was detected. However, the system was plagued by "an array of technical setbacks", the system failed all the tests and the whole project ended in lawsuits. Thousands of security cameras in the New York subway stations now sit unused.

One month later after Sterling's talk, Microsoft released Kinect. The video game controller uses a depth sensing camera and computer vision software to sense the movements and position of the player. Visualizations of space as seen through Kinect's sensors can be computed from any angle using 3D software. James George and Collaboration with Alexander Porter decided to explore the artistic use of the surveillance and kinect technologies. "We soldered together an inverter and motorcycle batteries to run the laptop and Kinect sensor on the go. We attached a Canon 5D DSLR to the sensor and plugged it in to a laptop. The entire kit went into a backpack.

We spent an evening in the New York Union Square subway capturing high resolution stills and and archiving depth data of pedestrians. We wrote an openFrameworks application to combine the data, allowing us to place fragments of the two dimensional images into three dimensional space, navigate through the resulting environment and render the output."

The OS image capture system, which uses the Microsoft Kinect camera paired with a DSLR video camera, creates 3D models of the subjects in video that can be re-photographed from any angle virtually.

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James George, Jonathan Minard, and Alexander Porter, CLOUDS

George and Porter later worked with Jonathan Minard and used the technology again for CLOUDS, an interview series with artists and programmers discussing the way digital culture is changing creative practices.

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Sophie Kahn

New and old media collide in Sophie Kahn's work. The artist uses a precise 3D laser scanner designed for static object to create sculptures of human heads and bodies. Because a body is always in flux, the technology receives conflicting spatial co-ordinates and generates irregular results.

Marshmallow Laser Feast, MEMEX | Duologue

Marshmallow Laser Feast's Memex is a "3D study of mortality exploring new photographic processes, in this case photogrammetry".

MLF worked with a 94-camera high resolution scanning rig, to create the full body scan of an old lady and explore what filmmaking for the virtual-reality environment could be like.


Introducing the Source Filmmaker

Source Filmmakers, produced by Valve, is a tool to create movies inside the Source game engine. George finds their work relevant to his own practice because although Valve comes from a video game culture, they investigate the same ideas.

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Naked scene from Beyond: Two Souls (image)

Beyond: Two Souls, by Quantic Dream, is an interactive drama action-adventure video game for PlayStation 3. At some point in the game, character Jodie Holmes (played by Ellen Page) is taking a shower. All in a perfectly politically correct fashion.

After the release of the game, nude images of Jodie Holmes leaked online, and were published by several gaming blogs. The "nude photos" were a result of hacking into the files of a debug version of the game and manipulating the camera. The game's publisher, Sony Entertainment, got these posts taken down. "The images are from an illegally hacked console and are very damaging for Ellen Page," the rep reportedly told one site. "It's not actually her body. I would really appreciate if you can take the story down to end the cycle of discussion around this."

But if the nude images were "not actually her body," how could they be "very damaging" to the actress? Whether or not the answer to this question is a convincing one, the little scandal shows the kind of challenge that filmmaker will have to face when dealing with this kind of hyper realistic technology.

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Selfiecity by Lev Manovich and Moritz Stefaner analyzes 3,200 selfies taken in several metropoles around the world and looks at them under theoretic, artistic and quantitative lenses.

DocLab Immersive Reality is accompanied by an exhibition featuring Virtual Reality projects, web documentaries, apps and interactive artworks. The show remains open until the end of the month at The Flemish Arts Centre De Brakke Grond in Amsterdam.

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The Terminator Studies

Somewhere between military robots, Amazon drones knocking on your door to deliver a parcel, and the rise in machine intelligence, lies what some call The Terminator Scenario. Jean-Baptiste Bayle has spent the past few years looking at the fear and likeliness that our society is getting closer to the one depicted in the 1984 science fiction film The Terminator. The Terminator Studies timeline, map and news collection propose a reinterpretation of a Sci-fi blockbuster. The picture that emerges from this research hovers between cinematographic prophecy and History contaminated by fiction.

The Terminator Studies is going to be exhibited from tomorrow on in Pau, France, as part of the Disnovation show and the accès)s( festival of digital culture. Until i get there (next month! next month!), i wanted to have a quick online chat with the artist:

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The Terminator Studies

Hi Jean-Baptiste! People can navigate the Terminator Studies via news feed, a map or a timeline. Could you explain how they complete each other? Why did you chose this kind of 'architecture' for the work?

First of all I stand like an observer and I collect webshots (screenshots of the web) as evidence. So the website is a repository for this collection, an archive which represents a knowledge resource for the project. The feed is curated, all items are handpicked from diverse sources. So the feed and the timeline are basically the same type of visualisation in a different order, but the map is more subjective, and shows relations, factual, subversive or symbolic, in between all the topics, so that it evolves with time and the flux of events.

I actually really like the map. I wish i could see a big print of it. Would that make sense to you?

And when you exhibit the project in festivals, what does the idea set up look like? That huge map i'm dreaming of and then a computer to explore the project?

Yes, the map, printed is really intriguing . It becomes a modern "fresque". It's a software generated mashup of screenshots, logos, and portraits. And of course it's better to have the electronic version to explore fully the links.

The project was first commissioned by the online platform of Le Jeu de Paume in Paris in 2011. It has since been shown during Sight and Sound in Montreal last year and this year it will be shown during Acces-S in Pau, France.

I also present the state of the art of the research in conference/keynote like the one at Gaité Lyrique in May, and completed with a workshop to practice the survival guide of the internet.

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The Terminator Studies

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When and how did you realize that the "terminator scenario" is becoming increasingly likely to become reality one day?

In fact it is already happening . Exactly what do we call the Terminator scenario? Technological take over? As most of the population is increasingly being used by/or uses computers everyday : we are living it. Technological cataclysm ? What about Chernobyl ? Fukushima ? GMO ? or asbestos ? Ecological doom ? Here we go.. Scientists and experts now talk of existential risk! It's true if not new, but a major cause of thoses threats is unaccountability, and should be avoidable in theory.

It all started in the 80s during the Reagan era, another Hollywood actor : the software industry, the pc computer, high frequency trading, NSA surveillance, DARPA robots, and the scenario of the Terminator movie (1984) was inspired by those hypes.

In this sense we are already in a worst case scenario a la "Terminator", and that is probably one of the reason why the movie is such a reference.. It's even used by government representatives and experts during debates on autonomous killing machine ban at the UN.

Cameron is lucid about this: he's working hand in hand with the military, cultivates the image of a ecologically concerned filmmaker, but while he's producing a global warming documentary series for cable tv, at the same times he's on board with a company that plans to mine resources missing on Earth on other planets..

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The Terminator Studies

From what you have discovered during your research for this project, who will be the losers of this terminator society? the whole humanity? Or just the masses? And who will be the winners, if there will be any, in the long term?

It's important to understand the pragmatic approach of the Terminator Studies. The goal is not to make predictions but to understand bits of contemporary history. It's interesting that you ask about the "Terminator society" because this concept of extermination is very similar to the capitalist process. In fact the capitalist society is a Terminator society. Terminator is also the name of a technology patented by Monsanto, which is a sterile seeds, also called suicide seeds, to force farmers to buy new seeds every year. The capitalist society is fundamentally suicidal. So for now, we can clearly see losers and winners, but it's more in terms of domination structure.

In China, the people building ipads and iphone at Foxconn factory don't have the same perception of modernity as Apple customers do. They don't share the same everyday issues.

San Francisco is now over-gentrified by the Silicon Valley folks and lots of people face eviction or cannot afford the city anymore. We see that some Californians now see the Tech industry as severely predatory. It creates a lot less common goods than it consumes... The etymology of robot is rooted in feudalistic society. And there is this kind of cynicism in the Californian tech elite, mostly white, that trash themselves once a year in luxury caravan in the middle of the desert, during the Burning Man festival. Think that Megan Ellison, the daughter of the 5th richest man in the world, software industry tycoon Larry Ellison, who is 25, has bought the rights of the Terminator franchise for about 30 million dollars. That also is real.

There is also the information class war. Our biggest enemy is ignorance, the whole domination process is based on the culture of ignorance (or as Robert Proctor coined it : agnotology). The tobacco industry, the deadliest industry , has invented the management of scientific doubt and by so improved its non liability and its sustainability. Now this applies to everything from GMO to global warming, to data retention, bank industry or even the state. That's why an initiative like Wikileaks is so vital and imperative in this time.

On internet, most of the users are forced into accepting contracts without even reading them, and thus become willingly serfs of google, facebook, or whatever Californian goulag.

Artists can play a major role, if they choose an ethical model of action, in re-infesting the collective consciousness through alternative storytelling. For example Paolo Cirio or Julian Oliver have explicitly directed theirs works towards systems, and make effective proposals to alter their efficiency, even temporarily. But this process of creative resistance must be appropriated by everyone.. Perhaps that was also the goal or the dream of James Cameron to bring awareness when he created the Terminator, though I doubt it.

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One of SkyNet's Hunter-Killer Drones from the film Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (image)

Since you've been scanning the press for a few years now, do you think that journalists are doing a good job at weighting in the pros and cons of a world ruled by machines and AI?

Generally the press doesn't do much journalism, with a few exceptions. AI takeover, as a topic, is quite unclear for a non expert especially with all the science fiction references, which tends to simplify it and make it acceptable. This is also called the James Bond effect, when people are already used to situations they saw multiple times in movies, like war, violence or surveillance..

At the same time it is very hard to talk about robots or our technology without mentionning science fiction references because in fact it all comes from it.. Hugo de Garis and others transhumanists consider science fiction as quasi biblical tell. Activists against autonomous killer robots opted for an opposite communication strategy and avoid any references to distopic science fiction tells (so called skynet factor), to make clear that this is a real threat and not a fictive one.

Thus the figure of the terminator is always ambiguous : it represents the domination but it's also part of it, in the sense that it has not been fully reappropriated like, say, the Anonymous mask.

Thanks Jean-Baptiste!

Terminator Studies is shown at the DISNOVATION exhibition, on October 8th- December 6th, as part of the 14th edition of the accès)s( festival which will run November 13th -16th, 2014, at Le Bel Ordinaire, Billière + associated venues in Pau & around. The programme was curated by Nicolas Maigret and Bertrand Grimault.

100 Ideas that Changed the Web, by Jim Boulton, curator of Digital Archaeology, an organisation that seeks to document the formative years of digital culture and raise the profile of digital preservation.

Available on Amazon UK and USA

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Publisher Laurence King writes: This innovative title looks at the history of the Web from its early roots in the research projects of the US government to the interactive online world we know and use today.

Fully illustrated with images of early computing equipment and the inside story of the online world's movers and shakers, the book explains the origins of the Web's key technologies, such as hypertext and mark-up language, the social ideas that underlie its networks, such as open source, and creative commons, and key moments in its development, such as the movement to broadband and the Dotcom Crash. Later ideas look at the origins of social networking and the latest developments on the Web, such as The Cloud and the Semantic Web.

Following the design of the previous titles in the series, this book will be in a new, smaller format. It provides an informed and fascinating illustrated history of our most used and fastest-developing technology.

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The book had me at page 8, the one that says "The idea of the internet was born in Belgium.' I was born there too! How thrilling! That idea, thus, was born at the Mundaneum, an institution which Slates calls a 'Proto-Internet made of index cards' and Speigel defines 'an analog version of Google'. Created in 1910, the Mundaneum had the ambition of collecting all human knowledge and classify it according to a system that Belgian lawyer Paul Otlet and Nobel Peace Prize winner Henri LaFontaine called 'Universal Decimal Classification'. While this networked world relied on index cards and telegraph machines, it nonetheless anticipated the hyperlinked structure of today's Web.

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The answers had to be searched for by hand, and that could take weeks. The index card system was developed in 1903 by Otlet, seen here in the same year (via)

100 Ideas that Changed the Web is a thick, compact book that charts the key moments that made and make the Web. The author presents one idea over two pages. One of them being the short essay, the other is the image that illustrates the concept. The book follows a logical and chronological order. The 20 first ideas are about the vanguard that paved the way for the creation of the Web. Ideas 21 to 53 are about the early days of the Web. These were times of experiments and wild dreams. The following 20-ish ideas deal with the pre-social era of the Web, full of ups (PayPal) and downs (that dot-com bubble). Ideas 74 to 98 brings us into the right here, right now of the web. The last two ideas look into the future.

The book is very upbeat and celebratory. It makes me love the fact that i lived from dial-up modems (don't miss understand me: i'd never ever want to go back there) to the era of Big Data. It also reminded me of the importance of ideas i either take for granted nowadays (eBay!! or real-time reporting) or had almost forgotten (The Blair Witch Project, a film that accumulated a series of 'first time ever', one of them being that its promotion relied heavily on a website.)

I think it's a book anyone might enjoy. It sums up efficiently important concepts and allows readers to take a step back and look at how much their lives have changed in a relatively short period of time.

With that said, i feel that the book is glossing over the unpleasant aspects of the web: the trolls, the spam, the scams, the mass-surveillance, the revenge porn, the platforms that are closing themselves, etc. All are corollaries of those magnificent 100 ideas that changed the web.

More views inside the book:

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Iconoclashes (Collaboration with Clement Valla), 2013

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Birds, 2006 ongoing until 2017

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Birds, 2006 ongoing until 2017

Erik Berglin is a young Swedish artist whose practice spans from interventions in urban environments to fact/fictional storytelling about forgotten stories to appropriation of images found online. Recent works have been exploring the possibilities to generate images with the help of computer algorithms.

Berglin graduated from the University of Photography in Gothenburg only 4 years ago. Yet, he mostly works with photos others people have made and uploaded online. Many of these photos have been roaming from flickr to forums, from tumblr to google image pages before the artist encountered them. There's something very nonchalant about the way Berglin watches the world go by through his computer screen. It is nonchalant but it is also consistently good and very contemporary in the sense that he is a contemporary artist who is young enough to be perfectly at ease with the internet and who brings his own artistic sensitive and critical point of view to it (whereas i often feel that most artists nowadays are either 'traditional' artists who work 'with the internet' because this is the thing to do indeed or they are media artist who strive to modify their portfolio so that it will be more appealing to the art market.)

In any case, the art that Berglin masters to perfection is the good old art of appropriation. He picks up an image, modifies it or not, brings it into a new contexts and gives it a new meaning. The result is a portfolio full of humour, poetry, and absurd comments on our absurd society.

Here's my interview with the artist:

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A NON-INFORMATIVE WORLD, A recording of an action at Masthuggstorget in Gothenburg. the 19th of august, 2007. Collaboration with John Skoog

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Birds, 2006 ongoing until 2017

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Birds, 2006 ongoing until 2017

Hi Erik! You been installing life size photos of birds on the streets since 2006. The series, called Birds, is an homage to John James Audubon who worked 12 years (1827-1838) on his book Birds of America. What made you want to make a homage to Audubon's and his work?

I usually start of new projects without thinking to much about why, if I would be concerned about that I would probably not make any art at all. Therefore I also start a lot of projects that in the end are not very interesting but I think it is important to follow your instinct and try ideas before questioning weather they are good or bad.

A teacher once told me the importance of letting yourself be "after hand inspired" (does not translate very well to english) finding reasons once the project is moving. This is very much the case with BIRDS. It started during my first year at art school together with my friend John Skoog. It started of as a 2 week performance piece, we slept in the gallery during the opening hours and put up birds (in scale 1:1) around the city at night. In the gallery we left small traces of our activity, like bird books and maps with indications of where we´d been, etc. We put up around 1000 images of birds and in a small city like Gothenburg it was quite noticeable.

At this time I did not know about Audubon's project but I thought is was so much fun that I kept putting up images of birds wherever I travelled. I also started doing research about interesting stories involving birds in art history, technology, popular culture, etc for another show (Archaeopteryx and other birds).

In an old bookstore in Brooklyn in 2008 I found a reprint of Audubon's Birds of America. I knew instantly that I wanted to make a similar book with the documentation from BIRDS project but first I had to keep it up 12 years - just like Audubon.


BIRDS, filmed by Jonas Nordborg

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Archaeopteryx & other birds, 2006 - ongoing

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Archaeopteryx & other birds, 2006 - ongoing

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Archaeopteryx & other birds, 2006 - ongoing

You mention on your website that it is 'really hard to keep something up for 12 years'. Why so? Is it because it gets boring? Because you get caught in new projects?

I think I wrote that on my page to keep it real somehow. I am a very restless person, so to work on the same project for 12 years is not really something I should be doing. It can get boring from time to time but of course I don´t work with this project full time. Now it´s only 3 years left so it´s becoming real in a way. I am really excited about making the book and showing it in world wide exhibition tour!

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Birds, 2006 ongoing until 2017

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Birds, 2006 ongoing until 2017

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Birds, 2006 ongoing until 2017

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Birds, 2006 ongoing until 2017

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Birds, 2006 ongoing until 2017

How do you decide which bird will end up where? Is it completely random?

Oh no, it´s absolutely not randomly. I can walk around for hours without putting up a single bird. It feels very important that the birds fits in its surroundings, in terms of color but also shape. If the birds is sitting on a branch for example it all have to make sense on that spot. I only make 1-3 images of each bird, cutting them out by hand and there quite expensive to make - so it´s important that it looks good on the wall. I try to make them look natural, so that one might think, at least for a second that they´re real!

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Blinded By The Light

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Blinded By The Light

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Blinded By The Light

I'm curious about the source of the images you use in some of your works. In Blinded By The Light, for example, you use found (and truly superb) images made by automatic cameras placed in the woods by hunters to locate prey. Where exactly did you get hold of these photos? On hunting forums? And how did you discover their existence?

I am interested in images that are forgotten or lost (kinda like things one can find in a flea market). The last years my artistic practice has therefore made me explore the internet as a public space full of lost and forgotten things. The images of deers in the forest are a result of that. The web is flooded with images, only on social medias there are millions of pictures uploaded each day. I think this vast material is interesting to explore. With the trail cam pictures I also thought is was amazing that the images where made without a decisive moment and in complete lack of human thoughts or esthetics. It was as if the deers where taking self portraits since their movement triggered the exposure.

When I first saw these images I thought it was the most sublime thing I´d seen. I got extremely obsessed, I wanted to see more and more, without planing to make a project about it. I started collecting thousands of images from hundreds of different sites and forums for hunters around the world. For them the images are not beautiful, there just proof that it´s time to go hunting. In that sense I consider this material lost and I try to give them a new meaning.

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Surrounding Camouflage, 2012 - ongoing

How about the images you collected for the hunting trophies series? Where do they come from?

This project actually came just before Blinded by the light and they are definitely related, I worked on them simultaneously and sometime found material on the same sites. But with that project I had a clear vision with how I wanted to use the material - erasing the hunters from their images.

Did you work on those to highlight that hunting is bad? Or do you take an absolutely neutral stance?

In general I want to be an observer, I guess that could also mean I´m neutral. I want to present things that I´ve noticed or found peculiar, but it´s up to the viewer how they want to interpret the work. I always try to have a fine balance between content and esthetics, I think both are important in order to make interesting art.

I don´t think hunting is bad, on the contrary, game meat is by far a better option if you wanna eat meat. However I definitely think trophy hunting is outrageous and Surrounding Camouflage is definitely an attempt to highlight the absurdity with killing animals without intention of using the meat. During the time I was working with these image I became very fascinated in the esthetics in these images, there seemed to be very strict conventions about how they should look.

Don't you ever get into trouble for using found images?

No. I think it´s fair use and also part of our contemporary society. And for at least the last 100 years artist have been using found objects to make art that reflects our times and I think that approach is even more valid today. But who knows, maybe I end up in prison.

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Everything Is Borrowed, 2010 - ongoing

Everything Is Borrowed are collages made using found images that belong to your "constantly growing collection of found images." I like the idea of a collection of found images. So how do you curate this collection? What makes you decide that an image will be part of your collection?

My collection is a mess, that´s why I would never refer to it as an archive, it´s just thousands of random images. I guess it started of as a folder with images that inspired me, I´m sure everyone has a folder like that. When talking about art it´s quite common to start talking about other artworks with more or less resembles. I am just the same and since I am a nerd I always think of art when seeing other images made by anonymous people. I started arranging famous artworks with random pics from my collection which I associated together.

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Planking Piece, 2013

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Planking Piece, 2013

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Planking Piece, 2013

And what makes you want to repurpose some of your found images and place them into an art context? If we look at a series such as Planking Piece, all the images are made by someone who is not you and show an individual performing a plank. Again, the individual is not you. So how would you define or even justify your intervention as an artist?

In the planking images I was fascinated that a meaningless activity of laying flat on the ground could become such a viral success. People all over the world without regards of age, income or ethnicity were doing it. I instantly thought of documentations of performances from the 60 and 70 that I love. Richard Long, Vito Acconci and especially Charles Ray and his work Plank Piece (from who I stole the title).

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Charles Ray, Plank Piece I-II, 1973

It seemed obvious to me that planking was an instructional performance piece that could be performed by anyone, anywhere. I wish I had come up with these instructions from the beginning but planking is just another "meme" which origin no one really knows. But the images of people planking has a great quality in terms of contemporary art, they spoke to me and had a profound impact. The seemingly dead bodies, the meaninglessness of the act, the lack of faces in the images, it appealing.

Sometimes the work of an artist is merrily to recognize the potential in our everyday life arranged this in an interesting way. My collection and my selection of planks is a document of this phenomena and a historical document. As an artwork it will probably make more sense in a hundred years from now, when planking is long forgotten.

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New And Old Possibilities, 2006 - ongoing

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New And Old Possibilities, 2006 - ongoing

Have you ever thought about what your work might be like if internet hadn't been invented yet?

I love subjective documentaries (Werner Herzog, etc) so maybe I would be doing that kinda stuff if I was not doing what I am doing now. But before I started working with material found online I was doing interventions in urban and public spaces with found objects so maybe I would have kept doing that. However I think the internet and public spaces are very similar and in many ways I have the same approach to things I find online or in streets.

I was reading an interview of you in which you explain that you were working on a project called The Lions Den. The story behind it is incredible and sad (a man who goes to great lengths to find the lion what will kill him.) What happened to the project?

That project is still in progress, I´ve been collecting some materials but not had time to finish it. I work on most on my projects for many years and In The Lions Den is part of a bigger work which includes sad and forgotten stories about people who died under strange circumstances. Stories Concerning Eldfell is the first chapter in this work, In the Lions Den will be nr 2 and then I want to follow up on a story about a woman in Ghana.

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Stories Concerning Eldfell 1973 - 2013, 2009 - 2013

I'm now curious about the series about the woman in Ghana that you mention. what is the story behind it?

Hahaha sorry but I´m not sure I want this in the interview since I will not be able to make anything out if this until a few years from now.. but I can tell you shortly that it is about a voodoo woman that lay a curse on the construction of a huge dame (a the time the biggest in the world). The construction would put the most fertile part of Ghana under water and force a lot of people to move, but it would also generate electricity for the hole country + a huge American steal factory. Because of the scale of the hole operation, the voodoo woman knew that in order to give the curse validity she had to make a huge sacrifice. So she drowned her self in the river... but I will not tell you what happen after.

Any upcoming research, work, event, exhibition you'd like to share with us?

I have projects for the next 20 years, the problem is only to know which one to do first.

Last year I did 20 shows and this spring 8, so actually right now I decided to not have too many shows for a while and focus on finishing new projects. But it´s really hard for me because doing shows is what I enjoy most. Because of money and time I think my next show will be a miniature museum: The Museum 1:10. The visitor will be able to walk around a model of a space an look at miniature versions of my new work. This way I can show lots of things in any space. The show will have an audio guide and a comprehensive catalogue. Maybe I build the miniature as a replica of Moma and just make it to a huge retrospective in miniature...

Thanks Erik!

(And huge thanks to Geraldine who introduced me to Erik's work!)

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