ART: BUBBLEBYTE.ORG INTERVIEW (SUPERSUPER.COM JANUARY 2012)
Ever wondered what would happen if you crossed an English artist interested in the “wilderness of the Internet” with a “mad Italian curator”? OF COURSE YOU HAVE! The answer is Bubblebyte.org, an online gallery specialising in Internet-specific art – even including a Crystal Maze inspired exhibition! Co-creator Attilia Fattori Franchini paints us a picture…
SS: How did Bubblebyte start out?
BB: Rhys [Coren] and I met in 2010, and soon understood that we both liked art that’s concerned with the Internet – using it as a place of experimentation to cross borders and reflect. The artists that caught our attention were able to work in-between producing interesting work in a digital format, as well as maintaining a relationship with the physical world of galleries and classical exhibition spaces. The Internet, as a place of visual interaction, became our main focus, while considering its artistic output as a place to research, promote and discover. We come from different backgrounds – Rhys is an English (nerdy) artist working a lot with the Internet and its wildness, and I’m a mad Italian curator with the desire of showing art and artists I like. It’s a perfect balance – after few months, the idea of bubblebyte.org was a reality.
SS: So what were the original motivations behind Bubblebyte? (And why choose the online format?)
BB: London seems to be a bit left out from the more influential LA/New York or Berlin intern-art conversations. A lack of institutions and galleries dedicated to new media approaches made the Internet-considered art community less cohesive.The motivation bubblebyte.org was the possibility of creating an exhibition platform for those practices which are poorly represented in London – showing international artists, while reaching an international audience. We were really interested in the artistic freedom that a web-based platform gave us – we thought, “Why don’t we create an online space that works exactly like a physical one?”
SS: Tell us about some of the most memorable shows Bubblebyte has hosted in the past – you recently did one themed around ’90s gameshow The Crystal Maze, right?
BB: This first year of activity has been really intense. We almost hosted one show per month, collaborating with amazing and enthusiastic artists. Il Labirinto di Cristallo, a collective show developed around the themes of theThe Crystal Maze was a different adventure… It was our first group show, and we imposed a curatorial line, selecting singular works for each participating artist. The work of 20 international artists were selcted and divided between four topics: Futuro, Industriale, Azteca and Oceano. The response was amazing – without realising it we’d constructed a psychedelic outer world, based on singular works that were perfectly functioning towards our artistic composition.
SS: And what influenced your decision not to archive past exhibitions on the site?
BB: We decided not to keep an archive early on. It’s a matter of temporality. When you go to a normal gallery, you have the possibility of seeing the show for a month, or six weeks, and after that the space changes – it transforms, adapts and takes the shape of the new artist/exhibition, while the past show just lives in the memories of the spectator. We wanted to create the same feeling in bubblebyte.org, and due to the nature of the Internet, archiving a show would have meant keeping the shows on constantly. In that way, we would have worked more as a museum, constructing a massive online permanent collection… but that wasn’t our intent.
SS: Do you think there are any drawbacks to the online medium?
BB: Reality is that most of the characteristics of the online medium are positive – and even when there are negative aspects, they are challenging and inspiring. But yes, certainly there are downsides – for example, sometimes, due to geographical distance, you never get to meet some of the artists you are working with in person. At the same time, the online medium allows and perfectly express certain practices… its characteristics push you towards certain modes of display.
SS: You’ve had a lot of press from publications all over the world – did you expect Bubblebyte to get the reception that it has?
BB: We believe that as long as we keep showing talented artists, people will follow our artistic program. It’s not about how much we push it communication-wise, but about the quality of art shown, and what you communicate with it.
SS: What do you think the rise of online art galleries/exhibitions like Bubblebyte and will ultimately mean for more traditional art spaces?
BB: They can peacefully coexist, showing different artistic practices through different formats. They are different experiences and the audience wants both – they aren’t interchangeable. The Internet and its space are easier to access, but they remain a difficult reception for people who are more used to classical display forms. Classical galleries shouldn’t see us as enemies, but take our artistic promotion as a source of inspiration towards their artistic program.
SS: Following on from that, do you think that online art galleries will prove to be a lasting outlet for art, or act more as a transitory phase?
BB: We don’t see online art galleries as an outlet for art. Websites of normal art galleries are kind of ‘outlets’ sometimes, but projects like bubblebyte.org or or-bits.com just work as platforms, showing and constantly promoting Internet-based work – proposing the Internet as a different place for art reception.
SS: Are there any online artists in particular you’d like to see exhibiting on Bubblebyte?
BB: Yes, definitely! Oliver Laric, because he started with vvork.com, what we are doing with bubblebyte.org today, and his personal work is brilliant. Also Petra Cortright, former member of Nasty Nets, because her work is awesome! There are so many we’d like to exhibit and I am not excluding – we’ll exhibit them soon. We’re constantly researching and keeping in touch with people we estimate and admire, but also get contacted by artists we love asking to show with us. It’s absolutely great!
SS: And lastly… what are your ultimate goals for the project?
BB: To continue to do what we’re doing independently, re-enforcing a more and more interested audience, and creating space for dialogue confrontation and art experimentation. We prefer to be flexible and grow and develop coherently, enlarging our platform to more artists, interesting projects and collaborations – without setting pre-fixed directions.
Interview: Charlotte McManus
Posted on 20/02/2012, in Art and tagged art, attilia fattori franchini, bubblebyte, bubblebyte.org, charlotte mcmanus, online art, rhys coren, supersuper, supersuper magazine. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.