“HEIST” is the first show realized in the chatroom exhibition format.
Text based artworks will be presented via a live browser-based chatroom in the classic green-on-black hacker text aesthetic.
A high profile selection of 14 artists of various ‘Internet generations’ – who are all now working digitally and online – will present original works.
HEIST is a group show all about ownership, counterfeiting and translation between digital mediums that questions the endless transference of ownership in our era of the daily remix on the Internet.
By converting images to text a digital file can be modified endlessly, retaining the original form but presented in a new aesthetic and medium. HEIST seeks to show the text-based internet aesthetic from an authentic hacker gaze.
ASCII is the text we see every day on the internet and is a technical schema describing how to communicate digitally. Each letter in every global alphabet has a corresponding ASCII code which computers use to portray language.
By reusing this ASCII code to create images, the rendering of complex visual material is made reusable within a text-only paradigm. The images change state to text.
Over the last three decades, internet artists have been constantly and prolifically creating ASCII-based works for presentation within chatrooms and forums. Often files are collected online, reused, recycled and remixed in varied and numerous ways.
The internet environment these works are portrayed in are hacker-friendly Internet Relay Network (IRC) chatroom where software piracy and casual cybercrime are common bedfellows.
What is the current state of net art and what happens when visual works are reimagined as ASCII text?? What is the correct format in which to show a piece of art in a gallery space that has only previously existed on the web? And what is the relationship between text-based ASCII art and the modern aesthetic we’ve come to expect from the web?
The HEIST exhibition format:
Upon loading heistart.com a Linux terminal will automagically open, and you’ll immediately join the HEIST chatroom. The chatroom terminal is classic hacker green-on-black.
At 6:30pm London time, the chatroom will open for a reception for mingling and chat between the artists and audience.
The exhibition will begin at 7:30pm, and the first work will be introduced with a programme note and the ASCII rendering of the work will be pasted into the chatroom; this will be an uninterruptible stream of text to fit the screen.
After the ASCII artwork has finished being pasted, the audience can comment on it and share their thoughts with one another and the artists.
This stream of artworks and chatter will continue for 20 minutes; each of the artists will have one work presented during this time.
Assembling the HEIST crew:
An authentic art heist requires a crew where each contributor brings a unique skill:
HEIST continues this pattern by collecting multidisciplinary artists which I’ve had the privilege to connect with in London, Berlin and Cambridge.
From London the artists hail from the Rising Sun Collective in Peckham, and specialise in texture, dance and sound.
From Berlin, the artists work in the visual space with paint and photography.
The Cambridge clique operate in the cinematic and language spaces.
Each city brings a unique angle to HEIST to provide a clique-within-a-crew collective mentality.
The combination of a diverse range of expert practitioners to produce works which are distilled down to the most basic element of digital communication, text, provides a melting pot of talent and lateral thinking.
Each exhibited artwork will have a unique take on the shared motivation: to create original artworks themed on counterfeiting or stealing art.
HEIST artefacts for sale:
We have a gift shop at fakefakefakes.com where 100% of sale proceeds go directly to the artists who’ve contributed the item.
There are two souvenir genres: the first is vinyl sticker-prints and the second is genuine counterfeit fashion items upcycled into art objects.
The counterfeit items are a playful homage to classic market stall fakes. These will be genuine fakes signed by the artist contributing the piece, with a certificate of inauthenticity to certify that the item is a (prepare for triple negative fatigue) fake fake fake.
The shop goes live simultaneously with the exhibition: 10.12.2020 7:30pm London time.