Fermynwoods Friday 45 – Open Online One

Open Online One was a yearlong presentation of work from an international array of artists from November 2010 to November 2011, including George Barber (England), J. R. Carpenter (England), Rowan Corkill (Scotland), Sarrita Hunn (USA), Garry Hunter (England), Jaykoe (England), Lina Kruopyte (Lithuania), Adeniyi Odeleye (Nigeria) and Richard O’Sullivan (Wales).

Open Online One was selected with the assistance of artists Andrew Langford and Simon Woolham, and was the first of seven annual online exhibitions between 2010 to 2017.

The decision to curate an online collection of work helped to continue our mission of infiltrating the everyday. As much of our everyday lives take place online, it was a natural location to infiltrate. Secondly, having an open call for work to be shown online meant we could select from a wider pool of artists and include a greater variety of voices and perspectives from and about the world. Thirdly, by expanding our audience across the globe to anyone with Internet access, we could reach an audience who might otherwise struggle to visit some of our more rural interventions.

These infiltrations were exemplified by Adeniyi Odeleye’s Shifting Realities. A series of images of dilapidated Nigerian roads, referring to the country’s tendency to find temporary, easy solutions to the lack of basic infrastructure, which is hindering development. “When there’s no pipe-borne water, he simply digs a well. When there’s no electricity, he switches on his generating plant. When the roads go bad, he simply finds an alternative route or gets an SUV”. When there was nowhere to show these photographs where he lived, Adeniyi’s solution was to present them in our Open Online.

J. R. Carpenter’s The Cape was an online experience – an interactive work presenting a quasi-fictional take on the iconic American vacation destination of Cape Cod. Participants navigated through an online collection of family photographs, found images, geological data, sound clips and hyperlinks. Documentation, memory and complete fiction were merged, questioning the authority of family and childhood memory.

By contrast Jaykoe’s City Distortions used mirrored footage to suggest an uninhabitable city, a flooded metropolis where we occasionally glimpsed familiar architectural landmarks in a new context. George Barber’s video Welcome used found footage from the Internet, TV or Hollywood films to further explore questions around climate change and the impact of city life.

In Ferndale, Western Canyon, Los Angeles, Richard O’Sullivan alternated negative footage with positive stills, to deconstruct the watery oasis of Griffith Park, LA, questioning the supposed wilderness of the manmade park, as much a simulation of nature as the city itself. Extending the idea of our lost relationship with the natural world and other species was Portrait of a species by Rowan Corkill, a series of images both amusingly and disturbingly depicting man as a dominant predator.

Garry Hunter’s ImaginedStates disguised real locations as imaginary states through ambiguous textual observations, encouraging us to imagine our own scenes in response to the excess of images and instant gratification that surround us in both the real and virtual worlds.

Lina Kruopyte’s Are You Alive? presented a seemingly interactive work that invited the viewer to make choices, with the questions based on familiar slogans which ultimately never produce satisfying answers. Do You Just Do It? Yes. No. Maybe.

Sarrita Hunn’s 99×9.2 was a looping animation inspired by the VJ culture she experienced while living in Berlin. Taking a 10x10cm German sketchbook of 100 pages, and a set of 9 markers, the two variables were used to make 9 sets of 99 drawings. Each drawing set was scanned to produce a variety of projects, including the animation shown online.

Rather than simply present documentation of existing work online, all of the selected submissions responded to new possibilities opened up by the Internet in a creative way, particularly in terms of finding new ways of thinking, making, engaging and interacting with art. In order to stop this work from becoming documentation, the online exhibition was time limited, with the work removed from our website after one year.

James Steventon

Open Online One - Jaykoe - City Distortions (still)
Image: City Distortions (still), Jaykoe, 2010.

Subsequent Open Online exhibitions were Open Online Two (sound based work); Gesture Online (work selected from Live Art Development Agency’s archives to compliment our Gesture project); #dawnchorus365 (a single commission from an open call); Just Like This (work creating dialogue between artists and participants through a series of online instructions); Too Long For iTunes (challenging the limits of online presentation and exploring offline digital culture); and Can You Hear Me? (asking what role artists can play in transmitting data of political or social importance and whether digital processes can reveal new perspectives).

Look out for more Fermynwoods Friday posts each week looking back at some of our favourite projects over the past 20 years of Fermynwoods Contemporary Art.