Category Archives: Reading Response 3 (June 2)

Reading Response 3 | Celina Laurette

Quarantas proposal that a radical awakening about representation in the media has little to do with following a code of ethics may seem a bit harsh, but it’s undeniable that there’s something to it. Personally, I can admit that I would definitely forgo ethics in making an online artwork or design project that I see as powerful and necessary, within reason. Ethics are social constructs that are relative, the subjects of powerful and necessary artwork and design projects tend to be less so. However, I think it should be noted that Quarantas mantra, “No ethics, no content, no message” is a little flawed. Consciously making the decision to either forgo or abide by a standardized notion of what is and isn’t ethical is in itself a message, which provides the viewer/participant with plenty of content to sift through.


Rihanna GIF By Alex Bedder


The internet is a space. It is an area that is ever expanding and continues to provide users with the opportunity to contribute content (visual and oral). If it can be agreed that the internet is a ‘space’, then by that logic a website can certainly function as an installation, or a piece of art that is site-specific and is capable of changing and interacting with its surroundings. Websites, especially those that are in one way or another some form of blogging service, can be highly influential to the content that other websites contribute to the internet. News sites and websites which showcase the artwork of an artist or designer also have the capacity to be influential to the content of other websites. Looking at websites as installations, this concept satisfies both Groy’s and Quaranta’s arguments for the “here and now” of an artwork because websites can be changed, produced, and shut down quickly and easily, as well they are very accessible to the majority of those in developed regions. Because of this, they are highly responsive to events, ideas, and the content that other websites produce.

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Reading Response 3- Sophia Oppel

1. Quaranta argues that in order to get an audience to reconsider the implications of media representation, it may be necessary to forgo an ethical dialogue and delve into ambiguity in order to ask difficult questions and train the viewer into recognizing “media hacking” for themselves.

I think there are already incredible unethical implications in a great deal of media representations, however subtle. Often, the sinister undertones and implied hierarchies of social dialogues go overlooked. In this sense, I do not think drawing viewer’s attention to these morally ambiguous realities need necessarily take a palatable form. Quaranta states “media hacking uses the same arsenal as its enemy: the dark, fickle mood of our era, the lack of ethics which spares no one”(32). I find this to be a good tack; when the viewer is made aware of the subtle implications in media representation directly, it will aid their media literacy.

I think it was smart of Molleindustria and Guerrigliamarketing to make Where-next, and then later call it out as a fake; this becomes a very personal attack on the participants, pointedly remarking on what humans find pleasurable. If the website got traffic and frequent users, I think that is reason enough for it to be a valid and necessary work; it makes the viewer aware of hypocritical politics inherent in corporate and media ventures to accumulate profit.

Once something is placed online it simultaneously gains of aura of validity for itself and anonymity for the viewer which can quickly become potentially harmful. Users need to consider the greater implications of their web activity in a visceral sense to make it seem more real, which is a huge strength in Where-next, creating a linkage between terror killings and a more subtle, yet nonetheless terrible, corporate and entertainment industry evil.

We experience certain threats only through the media, even if they are false the fear they create and its implications on civil liberties and psychology are very damaging and real. If fake threats or schemes are psychologically tailored aptly enough to encourage contemplation or self-reflection in the general populous around their own media adherence, then maybe unethical media hacking is a positive force.



2. For Groys, the digital image has to be located in a specific temporal and physical place to maintain its aura identity. Groys argues that a digital image is in its “original” form as an image file, possessing an aura by nature of being an invisible and non-physical language (code). Once that image is visualized and “performed” by a computer, it loses its authenticity and becomes a copy or mere visualization. Groy’s notion of the original or the aura still seems very tied down in the material world in a traditional sense; copies of an image destabilize its presence and experience.

A website is able to fulfill all of these categories in a way that is almost more genuine than a physical proxy in a gallery space. The viewer will come across the website in its original form as it was intended to be read, rather than as a secondary visualization of a digital image in a physical setting. The URL becomes the site specificity of the website, and like a gallery space, it is visited, traveled to and experienced in conjunction with other explorations and (digital) locations; as Quaranta says “it’s an object you meet during a trip” (159).

Quaranta quotes Walter Benjamin’s theory of aura as “the unique phenomenon of distance” in “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” in order to draw a further parallel web art’s adherence to the qualities of a physical aura. In a website setting, distance takes form in the intriguing public and private integration; the website exists both in a global digital space, and on someone’s private home computer. This becomes, for Quaranta, the unique “here and now” of a website, existing the same extraordinary way as a physical object possessing fleeting, residual qualities such as a shadow.

Quaranta argues that a web space becomes less of an art medium and more of a spatial real estate, in which the URL and location becomes an integrally informing part of the work,as exemplified by Agatha Appears by Olia Lialina, 1997. Lialina’s specific use of pop-ups in her site become very important in creating new digital spaces that can only be discovered through investigation. The website thus inherits the qualities of site-specificity, just like a physical installation.

Agatha Appears

Pop-up in Agatha Appears by Olia Lialina

While a website must be understood outside of Groy’s traditional sense of the physical original, it is still able to maintain these same characteristics to posses an elusive “here and now”. In this sense, a website can be read as a contemporary re-contexualization of the expected temporal and spatial concepts of an artwork in an age where the importance of the “original” becomes dated.



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