HAPPENINGText: Kanya Niijima

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) announced winners of its first online art award, SFMOMA Webby Awards. Established earlier this year, Webby Awards honor artists whose primary focus is the internet as their medium, and who distinctively expand the possibilities of this new art form. The $30,000 Webby Prize for Excellence in Online Art was awarded to Entropy8Zuper!, the team of Auriea Harvey (U.S.A) and Michael Samyn (Belgium). Honorable Mentions of $6,500 each were awarded to three artists: Ichiro Aikawa (Japan), Young-hae Chang (South Korea) and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (Canada and Mexico).

The Belgium-based creative team, Entropy8Zuper! explores narrative expressions of their personal emotion, fusing abstract images, texts, motion graphics, and sounds into a provocative visual language. As the index page of their site indicates, their work heavily features the latest web technologies such as DHTML, Flash and Javascript for more unique, sophisticated interactivity. Far from mechanical expression, however, Entropy8Zuper! creates a humane, spiritual experience with a honest, unpretentious approach to emotional subjects of their own.

In contrast, one of the Honorable Mentions by Aikawa, @2000, portrays inorganic expressions with a touch of modernism. Aikawa digs “dimensional” relevancy between desktop space (monitor screen) and window space (browser application). Fully loaded with Javascript, Aikawa playfully manipulates multiple windows appearing, disappearing, moving all over the desktop space, as if each window became an artificial life form.

Young-hae Chang, on the other hand, steps into the most straightforward solution among the other winners. With the intensive use of animating typography, Young-hae Chang presents ironically witty, conceptual statements in a linear movie format. Deliberately avoiding graphic images, Young-hae Chang tactfully approaches the “less is more” equation, effectively conveying the directness of the artist’s assertive messages.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer‘s Vectorial Elevation, finally, is an experimental project reflecting remote connectivity between existing reality and the virtual one in a computer. The web site contains a 3-D interface that allows users to control 18 robotic searchlights that are placed around a plaza in Mexico City. Users can individually design a light sculpture with the 3-D interface from anywhere in the world, and view their work in real time via webcams. Unfortunately the project is now discontinued, however, the site still has a huge archive of past light works designed by users around the world.

SFMOMA plans to hold the Webby Awards contest annually. This would be one of the great opportunities to measure this fast-growing, ever changing digital art medium every year.

Text: Kanya Niijima

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