The duo known by the pseudonym Eva and Franco Mattes (1976), writer and game designer Porpentine Charity Heartscape and Bogosi Sekhukhuni are the three winners of the 2017 Prix Net Art 2017, a prize awarded by Rhizome and the Chronus Art Center (Shanghai) “in response to a relative scarcity of support and recognition for the field, and to promote public conversation about the crucial but always changing role of the internet in contemporary culture and artistic practice”.»
The jury, comprised of Lauren Cornell, Curator and Associate Director of Technology Initiatives at the New Museum; Christiane Paul, Professor at the School of Media Studies at the New School and Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts at the Whitney Museum of American Art; Zhang Ga, Artistic Director of Chronus Art Center and Distinguished Professor at China Central Academy of Fine Arts, and Aria Dean, assistant curator at Rhizome, examined a large number of candidates nominated, in the initial phase, by the general public.
Since the mid-90s Eva and Franco Mattes, also known as 0100101110101101.org, have produced work which aims to deconstruct the power of the media in all its aspects, beginning with issues of identity and copyright, and more recent questions concerning the dark web: an unexplored – or rather, uncontrolled – ocean of information which runs beneath the thin surface of the network we navigate daily, guided by browsers (and by the commercial interests that link them to their businesses). Porpentine Charity Heartscape is the creator of hypertext narratives in which bodies suffer futuristic traumas and, in doing so, take on various forms. Bogosi Sekhukhuni works collaboratively across multiple platforms to explore, in particular, issues of repressed spirituality in Africa through the lens of technology and the emerging culture of the internet. Three artists and groups which utilise and reflect different viewpoints on internet, in between an utopian and a dystopian perspective. The prize is not awarded to individual artworks, but rather to the artist’s body of research. However, as in previous years, the panel selected three projects to add to each artist profile as introduction to their work.
The web-based commissions of BEFNOED (2014 – ongoing), subsequently displayed in installations to be watched in bizarre positions; the historic Life Sharing (2000- 2003), which opened all their computer content to public view; the emotional detachment generated by Facebook and revealed in No Fun (2010) are the selected works by Eva and Franco Mattes.
The game and interactive narrative Howling Dogs (2012); the hypertext deployed in the telling of Beautiful Frog (2015) through the Twine platform; the multi-platform collaborative Psycho Nymph Exile (2016) (with Neotenomie and Sloane) are the works selected to represent the research of Porpentine Charity Heartscape.
The work of Bogosi Sekhukhuni was presented by the jury with the web-based exploration of African mythology and cosmology Open Time Cover (2015 – ongoing), the examination of the spiritual future Ntu.Nervousconditioner.Life.001.NTU (2015) and the media-created reality seen through the video series Dream Diary.
The world of internet and of what – in the confusion and confluence of liquid and real dimensions – is labelled with the term post internet, are nowadays an integral part of contemporary western culture, still emerging in some countries. It is so widespread that it is difficult to observe it clearly, since is it is hidden behind a hypnotic media power. The prizewinning artists, like many who have operated in this habitat – and sometimes suffered from the suspicion with which they are regarded by institutions – raise our awareness of the mechanisms concealed within the media-driven world to which we are now accustomed and hardened.
(cover 1 – 6) Bogosi Sekhukhuni – NTU, NERVOUSCONDITIONER.LIFE.001.NTU_2015 (2) PSYCHO_NYMPH_EXILE (3) Artists Eva and Franco Mattes pose for a portrait at Abrons Arts Center, Monday, November 09, 2015. Photo Credit: Natan Dvir (4) 01.org – life sharing – screenshot (5) 01.org – lifesharing, computer (7) Bogosi Sekhukhuni – pineal gland totemlowres.