Franco Mattes on Sat, 8 May 2010 14:28:29 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Artist commits suicide online as a work of art (well, sort of)

May 1, 2010


Video and stills (explicit content):

Thousand of people watched powerless while a person was hanging from  
the ceiling, slowly swinging, for hours and hours. It happened  
yesterday, in the popular website Chatroulette, where people from all  
over the world can anonymously and randomly see each other through  
their webcams and chat with perfect strangers.

The hanging man was in fact Brooklyn based artist Franco Mattes, and  
the whole scene a set up. The artist recorded all the performance and  
than posted it online. In the video, titled "No Fun", one can see all  
possible reactions, from the most predictable to the most unthinkable:  
some laugh, believing it's a joke, some seem to be completely unmoved,  
some insult the supposed-corpse and some, more cynical, take pictures  
with their phones. Apparently, out of several thousand people, only  
one called the police. Watching the video can be a strange experience,  
at times exhilarating as well as disturbing.

Eva and Franco Mattes are already known for similar interventions done  
under the name 0100101110101101.ORG. What they wanted to achieve with  
this bizarre "online performance", as they call it, is not clear.  
"Since we live online" declared Franco Mattes "than we should get used  
to die online".

"I'm sorry if somebody was offended" commented Eva Mattes "Actually, I  
too was shocked by some of the reactions. And I'm not easily impressed".

According to New York University researcher Marco Deseriis "No Fun  
raises disturbing questions on the hyperreality of the contemporary  
mediascape as much as on the Orwellian spectacularization of daily  
life and death. But it would be simplistic to blame the Internet for  
the dramatic exhaustion of social interaction at a distance. What is  
more difficult to recognize is our own complicity and desire to be  
seduced by the latest technological wonders. In our daily obsession  
with media attention, frequently disguised as search for authentic  
communication, we end up being so narcissistically preoccupied with  
looking at ourselves that we can no longer recognize the other".

After the video circulated online the comments started spreading:  
"This is plain wrong" comments a YouTube viewer "you don't play with  
death, it may even push people most easily influenced to emulate it".

Science fiction author Bruce Sterling said: "I think it's nice that  
Franco took the trouble to so visibly hang himself, as opposed to just  
anonymously hanging his net-culture pseudonym of ones and zeros. This  
shows unusual personal warmth for a 0100101110101101.ORG project".

The Mattes are not new to this kind of black-humor-provocations: in  
1998 they invented an artist, whose works were ultra-violent splatter- 
like sculptures inspired by atrocity images found online. After  
obtaining a certain following, the inexistent artist committed suicide  
to become a cult-figure of the '90s underground art as well as an  
allegory of media vampirism.

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