JODY ZELLEN EXPLAINS THE HISTORY, INSPIRATION, AND PROCESS BEHIND AVENUE S:
“Avenue S” is a new addition to "Ghost City," 1998-2020. I began working on this path when things shut down and we were asked to stay at home. I see it as an ever-growing project with no end in sight, paralleling my intentions when I began Ghost City. Avenue S is an ongoing creation of new linked web pages containing fragmented images, animations and texts that are a poetic meditation on isolation. It feels like a ghost town everywhere these days: the streets are empty; the beaches and parks are closed. As we stay at home or walk alone wearing masks, I wanted to provide an alternative experience.
I have enjoyed a return to making net art, exploring image text relationships, unstructured narratives, rollovers, gifs and pop up windows. Avenue S is developing spontaneously and functioning as a visual journal during these disconcerting and unprecedented times. My return to net art was prompted by a frustration of looking at art on the web that really should be seen in person. Online viewing rooms and static jpeg images documenting exhibitions are not a viable substitute for actively viewing art. I wanted to create a new work where the viewer was an active rather than passive participant in the experience. I initially gravitated to making net art in the mid 1990's as a way to engage with the space of the web, creating something unexpected on what was then a developing platform. It was a way for me to experiment, combining text and images, making animations and playing with rollovers and hidden content. While what is possible online has changed and grown more sophisticated, there is something refreshing and satisfying in returning to the basics of net art, creating linked web pages that function like poems and commentaries on how I feel and what is happening in the world today."
GEORGE FIFIELD, DIRECTOR OF BOSTON CYBERARTS, EXPLAINS WHY THIS IS OUR 2020 SUMMER EXHIBITION:
"I have been in awe of Jody Zellen’s Ghost City since I first experienced it on the web. It managed to generate, in an online experience, the freaky sensation of being lost in a strange city. It was among the 20 or so great Net Art projects I would assign my graduate students at RISD to explore, in my History of Interactivity course. Sadly, today, most of these sites are presently 401s.
So when Jody told me she was back working on it, adding a new path, Avenue S, I was intrigued. What did Net Art even have to say to us anymore? But today, in this time of self-quarantine and abandoned urban centers, Ghost City - Avenue S seems perfectly attuned to the present COVID-19 experience. Our urban reality is empty while so many of us now spend our time doing business and recreation on the glowing rectangle in front of us. Boston Cyberarts’ physical gallery space is closed but today, we are proud to present Ghost City - Avenue S, as our newest exhibition. As we have all discovered, you cannot close creativity and art mixed with technology."
Jody Zellen makes interactive installations, mobile apps, net art, animations, drawings, paintings, photographs, public art, and artists' books. She constantly thinks about ways to use new technologies and to integrate interactivity into her artworks.
Zellen received a BA from Wesleyan University (1983), a MFA from CalArts (1989) and a MPS degree from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program (2009). Zellen was awarded an Artist Fellowship from the City of Santa Monica in 2011 and 2016. She is also the recipient of a 2012 California Community Foundation Mid Career Fellowship, a 2011 Center for Cultural Innovation Artistic Innovation Grant as well as a 2004 COLA (City of Los Angeles) Fellowship.
Her site specific interactive installations include: “The Unemployed," Los Angeles International Airport (2019); “News Wheel,” Long Beach City College, (2017); “Time Jitters,” Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art (2014) and “The Blackest Spot," Fringe Exhibitions, Los Angeles, (2008). Visit www.jodyzellen.com for more information.