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How to display net art
Last week, I installed Playing Duchamp — a Turbulence commission — at Futherfield Gallery for the “Made Real” show. The work is a net art piece, existing only on the web, which presented obvious difficulties in a gallery setup where: (1) people tend not to engage with an online chess game and (2) the gallery doesn’t want to give access to the operating system or other applications.
Here’s how we solved this. First, we used a monitor embedded in the wall and then placed a 5′ x 5′ white platform in front of it. Adding a step, a white chair and white table, made it so that the player crossed an invisible threshold, making them part of a “living sculpture”
Inspired by the “Singing Sculpture” image from Gilbert and George as well as “One and Another” by Antony Gormley, which invited 2400 different people to stand on a plinth at Trafalgar Square for one hour and do whatever they wanted, I designed the exhibited artwork to be both the viewer and the contents on the screen. It worked! Each player made a decision to step up and play and spent time with the game while others watched.
The second issue was a technical one and was easily solved by one of the assistants, who turned me onto a free browser called Plain View. It is a simple browser which goes into full screen mode and locked out other applications. Combine it with a wireless mouse and an alternate version of the Playing Duchamp website, which disables external links and there you have it: a net art kiosk that feels like a genuine gallery-quality artwork.