Thursday, May 1, 2008

It´s Ugly and Doesn´t Like the Cursor

The museum hub consisting of Museo de Arte del Banco de la República, Donación Botero and temporary location of Museo del Oro in Bogotá is one of the finest art museum complexes in the South America. Museo del Oro exhibits a shining collection of pre-Colombian art, Donación Botero includes works from all the central modern artists from Monet to Picasso - in addition to a huge collection of Fernando Botero´s work, for those interested - and finally El Banco´s museum features quality exhibitions of international contemporary art and permanent collections of Colombian art.

One of the El Banco´s recent innovations is the exhibition Net Art Colombia: Es Feo y No Gusta el Cursor, exhibited on an internet site opened in september 2007. It´s a selection of 25 Colombian artists whose projects use Internet as their primary medium.

The name of the exhibition - "It´s ugly and doesn´t like the cursor" - comes from El Neme: es feo y no gusta el cursor, one of the first works of a Bogotá-based mathematician and artist Santiago Ortiz, from year 2000. El Neme is a very simple digital mascot, an animated bird that is both curious about the cursor moving on the screen and afraid of it. It´s a rather simple piece of software, but according to the curator Juan Devis, this paradox of curiosity and scepticism is very typical to the practise and consumption of net art in Colombia.

Without commenting further on the individual works, the show in itself is an important and brave venture. The website proves that the artists in South America are at least equally able to absorb new technology as their northern counterparts. Despite the Finnish being highly technologically-oriented people and Helsinki supporting a strong media art scene (including a number of schools, organizations and festivals - for an example - time for a word from our sponsors - see Media Lab of University of Art and Design Helsinki, now sadly dormant and the yearly festivals Avanto and PixelACHE), I cannot recall similar net art-exhibition with a such a powerful institutional backing happening in Finland.

The website is arranged in well-chosen thematical categories, ranging from the open source to the play. Categories manage to keep a local focus, for an example upload death concentrates on works addressing the ever-present theme of violence in Colombia. The site offers a wealth of information on the works, curator´s comments plus biographies and interviews of each of the artists. Unfortunately - and rather strangely, considering the inherently global nature of the Internet-based art - the website is only available in Spanish.

But without further blabbing from my part, see it - and interact with it - for yourself.

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