Altarboy, Oriana - 2004 - http://www.oriana.us
please, click to enlarge
 
 

 

Altarboy, Cyrille - 2003 - http://www.altarboy-cyrille.com
please, click to enlarge

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Altar Boy / Oriana

Carlo Zanni, Oriana.us (Altarboy), 2004 - Sculpture, server, aluminum case with LCD, code.

Website: http://www.oriana.us

If not online, please visit http://www.zanni.org for further info.

The Oriana sculpture (part of Carlo Zanni's series Altarboy) consists of a customized, portable aluminum case. The bottom shell sheet of the case contains a little transparent glass box with fresh rose petals, pointing to the ephemeral nature of the object. The sheet itself is also covered by fresh rose petals. Embedded in the top shell is a 17" LCD screen showing a portrait of writer and journalist Oriana Fallaci. The pupils of her eyes consist of images gathered through live search engine queries; the images returned by the query are resized as 1x1 pixels and linked to a thumbnail of the same image (images are being refreshed every 90 seconds). Users remotely interact with the piece and launch the images in the pupils at the website www.oriana.us. The right pupil of the portrait is filled with images that users gather through queries at the website. The left pupil of the portrait is filled with images that are the result of a query for the words "Cu Chi" on the Google search engine. The Cu Chi tunnels were one of the most famous battlegrounds of the Vietnam War and are one of the country's prime tourist attractions today. Fallaci wrote about the Vietnam war, most notably in her Vietnam journal Nothing, and So Be It. Oriana constructs a physical object and portrait as a "living process" that contains a multitude of other possible portraits and takes its shape through the choices of users in a real-time networked process.

ChristianePaul
Director, Intelligent Agent; Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts, Whitney Museum

Zhang Ga
Director, Netart Initiative; Professor, MFA Design and Technology program, Parsons School of Design
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Altar Boy / Cyrille
( To know more about Altarboy / Cyrille, please read the following article: http://www.zanni.org/altarboy-interview.htm )

AltarBoy is a sculpture and a platform to show and to sell net based artworks.
AltarBoy is a customized case equipped with a laptop cpu, a 15” tft touch screen and a built-in auto logging web server.

The Hard Disk hosts all the netart work scripts and once AltarBoy is connected to the web the work becomes visible and available for Internet users.

The net artists's need to sell their work (as any other artist) merges with the collectors and dealers's one: to buy net art works (as they usually do with more classic medium based works).

In this way the typical ephemeral nature of netart works is preserved and at the same time AltarBoy offers a base for an upcoming new art market. Collectors will be able to decide when and where (even if “where” is a floating concept in this case) to open the network, allowing people to see and above all to join the net art project. AltarBoy allows concepts such as Property and Sharing to merge without compromises.

AltarBoy has been shown for the first time during Artissima artfair in Turin (Nov. 5th- 9th, 2003) hosted by Analix Forever gallery booth.
The second AltarBoy (www.oriana.us) has been shown at the Chelsea Museum, in a show curated by Christiane Paul (Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts, Whitney Museum) and Zhang Ga (Parsons School of Design)

[Special Thanks to kjj.it for all his support and work]
[Thanks to Michael Watson]


More info on Altarboy Cyrille:


-Hardware (aluminium case; laptop, tft monitor touch screen; glass box; petals)

Aluminium case:
The case, is a customized portable silver-aluminum case. The two shells are covered by two glossy-white aluminum sheets.
The bottom sheet has a hole in the right side. In this hole there is a small transparent glass box containing fresh rose petals. The aluminum sheet is covered by fresh rose petals.
The top sheet contains a rectangular hole (for the screen)
The final look is an open metal case with a 15" touch screen surrounded by fresh rose petals.

Laptop, Tft Monitor, Touch Screen:
Inside the bottom shell is a CPU of a laptop equipped with a LAN plug. Inside the top shell there is a 15" TFT screen equipped with a 15" touch screen. Inside the Laptop's HardDisk are all the PHP and html scripts of the netart work.
So, instead of doing a FTP to a remote server somewhere else, all the code is stored in this "object".
The HardDisk contains also software allowing the machine to become visible to the Net every time it is connected to the Internet. So it becomes a "server" only when it is plugged in. When users come to see the work and it isn't online, they find a courtesy page.

The glass box:
The glass box is formed by two glass cylinders that once merged, create a sort of vacuum-packed effect, so that rose petals can remain "fresh" longer. When you travel, you can store the petals in this glass box.

Rose petals:
Fresh rose petals point to the ephemeral nature of the object.


-Server Software (Apache; Php; MYsql)
As already stated, AltarBoy is a sculpture, a web server hosting a netart work. But Altarboy could be seen also as a temporary answer to topical contemporary questions such as "Is it possible to sell network-based artworks?", "If yes, in which form?", "How can I buy something public?" and "How can the concept of property merge with the sharing one?"
...to be continued


Network(?)
Think about an abusive pipe. I acted as a plumber, opening a faucet for private use. Running it, Altarboy uses water from the main pipe (Google); when they close it or there are problems with the main pipe (or when the net will not exist anymore) it starts cycling stored waters.
Altarboy runs also offline, cycling the sessions stored in a database derived from its online life. Running off line it becomes a witness of a certain historic period.


-Net Artwork (Newnewportrait introduction; Cyrille's core concept; Right pupil, Left Pupil; Interaction online user/people's behaviours)

Before introducing the netart work running inside altarboy, I would like to introduce in brief the concept of Newnewportrait.
In Late 2000 I started making personal portraits as 32 x 32 icons for Desktop. It was clear in my mind that these portraits were only the first step of a research around contemporary portraiture and identity.
In May 2001 I registered a web domain, called Newnewportrait.com, formulating the basis of a personal attitude in making portraits using digital feedback as material.

The name Newnewportrait comes from "the new new thing", the well known book by Michael Lewis. In brief, it is a way to do portraits describing the temporary mental identities of the user and not only his physical aspect. Works made through "digital footsteps" such as email accounts, web stats, desktop icons, workstation environment settings, cookies, wi-fi waves and search engines can be seen as NewNewPortraits.
And, of course, also the work hosted by Altarboy is a Newnewportrait.
The work embedded in Altarboy is called "Cyrille" and it is the personal portrait of the Analix Forevr gallery director, Cyrille Polla.
This project consists of a B/W photo of Cyrille (a portrait), in which, instead of pupils, it contains images taken from a search engine live query.
In fact, the image of her pupils is substituted with "pixel - images" refreshed every two minutes and displaying new images taken from a Google search. The images coming from the query are resized as 1x1 pixels and linked to pages containing the same image but in its real size. This means that pupils are browseable by users that will be able to click on them opening new windows and exploring their content.
The Right Pupil of the portrait is filled with images coming from some fixed queries decided by the collector. This means that the engine will use (randomly) one of those keywords selected in advance to scan the web looking for images.
The Left Pupil of the portrait is filled with images coming from user entries. It means that before joining the project, user will be asked to type a query in a form.
This way of drawing with images taken form Google (In this case just circles, miming the form of the pupils) is possible thanks to "Query Fill", a personal tool I'll introduce to you later.
Interaction (People's behaviors): The portrait reloads every two minutes, each time looking for new images on Google. In the end, the portrait always changes in accordance with our own social behaviors.
Like many other projects of mine, (Epic Tales, Portrait of Sofia Imber, Skyman) also "Cyrille" is focused both on private entries and on "public performances". I mean, It is based both on intentional interaction (when you type a query) both on "unintentional" performances (social behaviours appearing on CNN and Sky News live news websites.)
There could be a lot to say about these "unintentional performances ", since all news appearing on news websites is voluntary.. consider the figures in politics, sports, war; etc. who are unaware of their influence on an artwork. It's better to say that they are voluntary performances that I grab and use to fill my concepts.

So I see these kinds of works as public performances, and I use them like blood to keep my designed networks alive.
A mix of macro-behaviour and micro-behaviours .
Content is changing, while the shape, the network, stays the same..

Running it offline is like hearing from a witness something that has happened. Like an old man telling stories about his youth to a child.

-Database (Query Fill - thumb from search engines; images from web sites; general settings; query storing; ONline life, OFFline life)

"Query fill" is a conceptual tool based on PHP scripts and Google APIs searching and displaying images taken from search engine query results. "Query fill" is a way to paint with images instead of only with pixels. It is a "live paintbrush" a "magic wand" giving "life" to things. Instead of having lines of pixels generating the portrait, "Query Fill" allows users to "create" the work through images taken from search engine query results. In the end global community behaviours influence the form and the content of the drawing. Because of real time image finding process, these works tells us about our own life, and, in some ways, they become old as the famous Dorian Grey's Portrait by Oscar Wilde.
...to be continued

-Sell and Buy (Collector Dealers and Galleries; Art object after Internet)

Collectors, Dealers and Galleries
With Altarboy, the net artists's need to sell their work (as any other artist) merges with the collectors and dealers's need: to buy net art works (as they usually do with more classic medium based works).
In this way the typical ephemeral nature of netart works is preserved and at the same time AltarBoy offers a base for an upcoming new art market.
Collectors will be able to decide when and where (even if "where" is a floating concept in this case) to open the network, allowing people to see and above all to join the net art project. AltarBoy allows concepts such as Property and Sharing to merge without compromises.

Art object after Internet
Even if the Net will not exist anymore in a few years the work will still work in an OFF-line mode, witnessing its ON-line life. Altarboy is projected to run also offline, cycling the sessions stored in a database derived from its online life..


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Some notes about the path followed before doing AltarBoy. (aka before Altar age):

p2p_$ and the protocol: In April 2, 2002 I posted a message in the rhizome mailing list proposing a practical way to sell net works.

I called it the protocol, and a big part of the rhizome community attacked me because they were scared about the possibility that I've written the new tables of the law, forcing all people to follow them. My 3-points protocol was just an easy way to try to begin a kind of relationship with galleries and with the market, without pushing any process. Being active instead of living just hoping for the next grant and praying not to lose the second job. I think we cannot press or accelerate any "cultural" process, but artists must think about these topics, making proposals and experiments. Artists must think about the economic side of their work because it is an important part of the process. They are on the front line with their lives. At the following address you can find the protocol: www.zanni.org/church/The_Protocol_v1.htm

The protocol in brief: Every net piece has to be sold with a personal web space (1), a TLD name (2) and a Visual support (3).

1-ftp login web space specs (password and user id) When people buy a net piece, I sell them a web space contract with an hosting company and a digital support with ftp specs stored inside. (this section has been solved with altarboy concept)


2-Tld name (ownership TLD transfer) When people buy a net piece, i transfer the ownership of the TLD name to the buyer. (A lot of artists make their pieces under the same directory/url but to support the process TLDs could be a good way to come to a compromise.)


3- Visual support: When people buy a net piece, i can sell them an "on line lcd screen system" (wireless 802.11b) that helps "to finish the art object" and helps the selling process. In this way, net things stay online and the buyers can enjoy them in their real entity.

These words have been written in 2002. Now AltarBoy fits all these 3 points. It's my attempt to create a physical net object without altering the tech specs of net based artworks.
In this way my work can be seen both as a sculpture both as a "paradigm" to sell networks. I mean, I created it with those aesthetics specs because they fit my "artist aims" (dimensions, petals, case and so on) whereas the tech side of it (cpu + server-software + lcd screen) can be reproduced and upgraded by everyone who wants to follow this approach. This project is theory meets practice. And I hope also NetArt meets $$$. (like paintings, videos, photo..)


In May 2002 I was invited by Valentina Tanni to give a lecture, but instead of speaking by myself I decided to invite forty speakers worldwide, and to ask them to give their opinion and share their experience about selling net things. I chose to develop those topics discussed already in the rhizome mailing list. I called it P2P_$: Peer To Peer $elling Processes for net_things, hosting the dialogue on my www.thechurchofsoftware.org (an action demonstrating the central and strategic role of the software in our culture).

The P2P_$ chat conference was held on May 22,23,24 2002. Those days were a big adventure: three days, ten hours chatting every day. The full version of the chat logs are posted at the following_address: http://www.zanni.org/church/workshop/invitations.htm , with all the participants and their "social" role.
(in 2003 with curator Michele Thursz we did P2P_.edu: Educationals for ArtDealers.. we distributed red card at the Armory through Postmasters gallery and Cabinet magazine)

The topic of that workshop / dialogue I set up was: "Selling Processes for net_things"

GuideLines:

-Is it possible to sell networked based artworks? (net art)
-If yes, in which form?
-Is it possible to sell directly the Files instead of just a visualization of them?
-If I want to buy a net_project, what I buy?
-How can I buy something "public"?
-How can the concept of property merge with the sharing one?