The Wrong is big. Really ridiculously, absurdly large. The sheer number and variety of works encompassed in this digital biennial is overwhelming, across its pavilions, curated pieces, and events. When this second iteration of The Wrong was about to launch, even organizer Guillo had not yet seen every work. The scale is mostly a positive thing — as someone fairly immersed in new media and net art, I found many pavilions filled with unfamiliar artists — it was great to break out of the digital art I’m exposed to through social media into currents of work that are farther afield. On the downside, the site offers little in the ways of an entry point, which can create a barrier for those not already knowledgeable about net art. It is easy to follow links from the Wrong into Facebook groups that no longer have content posted, or to 404s, or pages which ask you install questionable software locally. My guess is that most people will end up entering The Wrong from pavilions or artworks by people they know, which somewhat defeats the purpose — my favorite works were mostly those that I found accidentally.
The strongest pavilions tend to have the more specific themes. A stand-out for me is www.not-found-exhibition.com (curated by Cesar Escudero Andaluz and Mario Santamaría), a selection of netartworks no longer found online, at least not in their original locations. Rather than netart that is intentionally ephemeral, these are works that have died a natural online death; either consciously taken down, or simply moved when sites are updated or retooled. It reminds me of Curt Cloninger’s Pantry War, recently killed by Rhizome’s redesign (which invalidated its own comment markup language). In this work, Curt paired opposing images, posted inline from other sites, as a contest to see which would outlast the other — for instance a magic marker vs an eraser.
Some of the works in Not Found Exhibition can still be found rather easily in web searches — but the strength of the pavilion lies in how intriguing the written descriptions of the works are. The minimal design does not interfere with the descriptions: big blue classic HTML style links, lots of monospaced type giving it a library feel, wiki-media-style markup for the title, and plenty of whitespace to keep it uncluttered.
The DiMoDa (the Digital Museum of Digital Art) pavilion took an almost opposite approach, building a virtual 3D environment filled with immersive works. At DiMoDa (designed by Alfredo Salazar-Caro and William James Richard Robertson), it is always sunset. It feels like a place found by accident; the loneliness of the space, with the insect sounds which follow you into the museum. It capitalizes on the airless VRML-quality of Unity, reflecting on the feel of the institution. The museum itself is beautifully designed, juxtaposing classical and contemporary architectural styles familiar from current trends but taken further, just barely within the realm of what’s realistically possible architecturally. Inside are four digital art installations, by Claudia Hart, Tim Berresheim, Jacolby Satterwhite, and my favorite election prediction by Salvador Loza and Gibrann Morgado (it involves Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, and a tumorous horse-like thing). Each installation feels distinct from the others and from the museum itself, and sometimes change the physical laws. At one point, I got rickrolled, so there is at least one Easter Egg, possibly more (you’ll have to find where on your own 🙂 ).
Apart from the pavilions, there are also featured artworks, such as Jan Robert Leegte’s Random Selections Object. Here, the rectangles of spectral Photoshop ants are the content, against a black backdrop. In very dense groupings of selections, the clusters of digital ants appear to walk in two directions at once. It continues Leegte’s experiments with the materiality of digital artist’s immaterial tools.
The Wrong (again) can be found at http://thewrong.org/. It officially runs from Nov 1 to Jan 31, 2016. More content, including events, will continue to appear throughout the exhibition.
[Full Disclosure: I participated in the Wrong within the UnnamedGroup pavilion]