ASCII History of Moving Images

Today’s article is from our friends at Art Practical, where Mathew Harrison Tedford discusses the History of Moving Images via a collection of Vuk Ćosić’s 1998 détourned film clips, on display on the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) NetArt online gallery.

Deep Throat, 1998; video still. Courtesy of the Artist.

The flickering green blowjob is both radical and passé. The alphanumeric pixels depict an ambiguously famous sex scene. It is neither obscene nor safe for work. The video is part of ASCII History of Moving Images, a collection of Vuk Ćosić’s 1998 détourned film clips, on display on the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) NetArt online gallery. The scene in question is a clip from the classic 1972 porno Deep Throat, also both radical and passé. Ćosić converts the film data into ASCII, the standard computer code that dates back to 1968. The minimal green-on-black motif recalls a Geocities aesthetic, and watching the videos nurtures an uncomfortable nostalgia for the dark ages of the World Wide Web—the mid 1990s. By dint of the rapid transformation of the web, Ćosić’s videos seem more aged than a work of Nam June Paik or even the Lumière brothers.

Ćosić was member of a cadre that brought digital art out of this dark age. In fact, the museum’s NetArt itself derives its name from a Ćosić neologism: the term’s almost mythical genesis story relays that in December 1995, the artist received a distorted e-mail message in which the only discernable text was the phrase “net.art.”1 Soon after, Ćosić organized a gathering of European digital artists in Trieste, Italy, dubbed “net.art per se.”2 With this symposium on the nature and philosophy of net.art, Ćosić helped launch a quiet, if accidental, revolution.

To continue reading this article, visit ArtPractical.com.

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