On November 9, 2000, Dia Center for the Arts will launch "Present," a work devised by David Claerbout for Dia's series of artists' projects for the world wide web. The address for the project will be http://www.diacenter.org/claerbout. An event celebrating the project will be held in Dia's bookstore on November 9th, 2000 at 548 West 22nd Street, New York City, 6-8 pm.
For his first computer-based artwork, Claerbout offers visitors the choice of three flowers to download from the internet. An amaryllis, gerbera, or red rose will then live on each visitor's computer for approximately one week, after which time it will remove itself, leaving a seed to send to someone else. During the flower's lifespan, the user will be able to view it by clicking on a desktop icon. Depending on the local time, a brief, looping video of the flower will appear in morning, afternoon or evening light, or darkness.
"Present" responds to Claerbout's struggle with the lack of body, or presence, on the internet, while building on his interest in using video and digital technology to animate imagery so that a temporal relationship is created between the viewer and the work. In his 1999 interactive video projection, Untitled (Carl and Julie), the viewer encounters a man sitting outside on a patio talking with a girl who has her back to the viewer. When the viewer triggers a sensor, the girl turns her head to look out of the scene, involving the viewer in the "moment" of the image. With "Present," Claerbout expands on his interest in temporal relationships linking image and viewer by engaging the media of digital technology and the internet. Even though the flower lives in a wholly digital environment, it manifests the rhythms of an organic lifecycle as in real time. Its presence and eventual (automatic) disappearance interject real world temporality into a digital environment where time normally lacks organic reference. Extending the natural metaphor, the seed that remains after the flower is gone can be given as a gift, complete with a message from the sender. In this sense, "Present" reflects on its context: the gift economy in which most network-based art is created.
Funding for Dia's series of artists' projects for the web has been provided by the New York State Council on the Arts. Photography for the project was done by Philip Boêl and programming was done by Peter Berry, Steven Fujita and John Sharp of Tall Software.
Previous projects which can still be visited on Dia's website include Stephen Vitiello's Tetrasomia, Gary Simmons' Wake, Francis Alÿs' The Thief, Arturo Herrera's Almost Home, Diller + Scofidio's Refresh, Kristin Lucas's Between a Rock and a Hard Drive, and Claude Closky's Do you want love or lust? All may be viewed at http://www.diacenter.org.
Dia Center for the Arts is a tax-exempt charitable organization. Established in 1974, the institution has become one of the largest in the United States dedicated to contemporary art and contemporary culture. In fulfilling this commitment, Dia sustains diverse programming in visual arts, poetry, arts education, and critical discourse and debate.
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