It was only a matter of time before the internet sensation of LOLcats found its way into the art world. One of the site's typically cutesy images, in this case of a kitty stuck in a birdcage with a budgie sat outside with the caption 'Epic Fail', has been turned into a taxidermied sculpture and then falsely credited to Maurizio Cattelan, whose work it passed for when shown in Texas. The idea that there is ever an accredited author of such banal internet memes is a further layer to the silly subterfuge being perpetrated by art pranksters Eva and Franco Mattes, who often hide themselves, hacker-style, behind their URL: 0100101110101101.ORG.
As one of the early exponents of net art, following in the digital footsteps of Jodi.org and Etoy Corporation, Eva and Franco Mattes spent the best part of the last decade coordinating unconventional web projects including sharing private data or releasing viruses as explorations of this new, virtual canvas. Transferring net art 'meatside' is never straightforward for such tech-practitioners, but their first UK show, 'Anonymous, untitled, dimensions variable', is part of a convincing, nascent movement to shift digital worlds into physical spaces, being talked up as 'The New Aesthetic'.
We can't get into that now, but its symbolic conflagration is made visible in the duo's modified arcade driving machine game, 'Colourless, Odorless and Tasteless' which spews real diesel fumes and carbon monoxide into the gallery every time you put pedal to the metal. Darker and more urgent are their ruminations on the lack of privacy, copyright and community on the net, from their faking of a suicide on Chat Roulette, the appropriation of crowd-sourced snaps from unsuspecting hard drives and their attempts to broker peaceful conversations in a violent online shoot-em-up landscape, where a certain Anders Breivik apparently spent most of his time preparing for a real-world massacre.
Stealing bits of famous art works or Chernobyl funfair rides seem juvenile in comparison, but otherwise Eva and Franco Mattes represent the nearest we have to prophets of our inevitable digital doom.
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Went to see this last weekend on the recommendation of a friend. I have to say the work was thoroughly engaging, diverse and thought-provoking. The interactive elements of each piece lifted the experience, leaving you eager for the next. Favourite = 'My Generation'. I agree with reviewer, the Chernobyl piece was a bit self-indulgent. The space itself was good, if quite small, and the staff were polite, well-informed and friendly. EPIC WIN (& a good use of a spare hour or two).