Chris Joseph: Amazing Net Art from the Frontier

I’ve been following Chris Joseph‘s work as a net artist since the late 1990’s when he was living in Montréal–he’s a Brit/Canadian living now in London. He was on Webartery, a listserv I started in 1997; there was great discussion and activity in net art on Webartery, and Chris was an important part of it then, too. I visit his page of links to his art and writing several times a year to see what he’s up to.

I recently wrote a review of Sprinkled Speech, an interactive poem of Chris’s, the text of which is by our late mutual friend Randy Adams.

More recently–like yesterday–I visited #RiseTogether, shown below, which I’d somehow missed before. This is a 2014 piece by Chris. We see a map, the #RiseTogether hash tag, a red line and a short text describing issues, problems, possibilities, groups, etc. Every few seconds, the screen refreshes with a new map, red line, and description.

Chris Joseph’s #RiseTogether

I sent Chris an email about it:

Hey Chris,

I was looking at http://babel.391.org/remix_runran/2014/risetogether.html

I see you're using Google maps.

What's with the red line?

What is #RiseTogether ? 

The language after "#RiseTogether"--where does that come from?

ja

Chris’s response was so interesting and illuminating I thought I’d post it here. Chris responded:

Hi Jim,

Originally this phrase, as a hashtag, was used by the Occupy Wall Street anti-capitalism movement, but I think since then it has been adopted/co-opted by many other movements including (US) football teams. The starting article and the text source for this piece was http://occupywallstreet.net/story/what-way-forward-popular-movement-2014 . 

It was one of three anti-capitalist pieces I did around that time, which was pretty much at the beginning of my investigating what could be done outside of Adobe Flash, along with http://babel.391.org/remix_runran/2014/capitalist-manifesto.html and http://babel.391.org/remix_runran/2014/thedaywefightback.html . And thematically these hark back to one of my first net art pieces, which isn't linked up on my art page at the moment, http://chrisjose.ph/quebec/ 

The red line was for a few reasons, I think. Firstly to add some visual interest, and additional randomisation, into what would be be a fairly static looking piece otherwise.  But I find the minimalism of a line quite interesting, as the viewer is asked to actively interpret the meaning of that line. For me it's a dividing line - between haves and have nots, or the 1% and 99%, or any of those binary divisions that the protesters tend to use. Or it could suggest a crossing out - perhaps (positively) of a defunct economic philosophy, or (negatively) of the opportunities of a geographical area as a result of that economic philosophy. 

All three of those pieces have a monochromatic base, but only two have the red, which feels quite angry, or reminiscent of blood, of which there was quite a bit in the anti-capitalist protests.

I used the same technique again in this piece: http://babel.391.org/remix_runran/2015/plague-vectors.html - but here the lines are much more descriptive, as an indication of the supposed 'plague vectors'. 

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Chris Joseph
@cj391
chrisjoseph.org

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