by Devon Taylor at 10:26 AM

Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Jim Punk
Jim Punk’s art is interactive. On the surface, as with his website and a few other pieces, he creates an interface for the viewer to click around and have some amount of control over how he/she observes the art.

This control, however, becomes an illusion very quickly. One click could result in a chaos of colors, sound, pop-up windows, and more content then you can wrap your mind around. The promise of one piece, a collaborative blog called screenfull.net: “we crash your browser with content.” Though my browser didn’t crash, I, was indeed overwhelmed. One critic commented: “Screenfull’s ability to zero-in on the parodic vulnerabilities of their subjects supports the aim to disrupt the corporatized conventions of online display, or, in their words, the desire ‘crash your browser with content.’ ”

Jim Punk is a french artist whose origins I have not been able to find. On a simple Google search only two links pop up with regard to him, though through lots of exploration of his website you’ll find his work. His work seems to question how we look at and surf the web. With many pieces, Punk is able to control the way we view each site by “hijacking” the browser. It is interesting how he uses something people depend on, and feel very comfortable with, and turn it on its head to cause the viewer unease. Tricia Fragnito describes his work as “a web version of a roller coaster ride: scary and fun and at the end you want to go again.” He “produces sites which exploit the unique experience of web-browsing.” Another commentator said that he “aims to disrupt the corporatized conventions of online display.”

Some of these pieces such as “Screenfull.net” or his “Scarface Remix” become so overpowering that it is hard not to just quit the browser, in fact, after a night of research I, myself had a small headache. On the other hand, with “Meditation”, Punk uses the same technique to induce more of a trance in the viewer. Slowly-moving pop-ups, and melodic “sonar” in the background, the viewer can sit back and watch until they seem to be watching nothing at all. As Bill Hanley comments, “But maybe that’s how this type of participatory art is completed: the viewer finally mixes up a combination of imagery and sound that is so blissfully overestimating, they are forced to either click away or stare at it indefinitely.”

The latter piece, “Meditation,” I particularly enjoyed. But to do that, I was forced to let go my urge to control the site—to stop the pop-ups that I’ve become so annoyed with and threatened by over the years—and just watch the show.

As previously noted, Jim Punk’s works appear threatening—even menacing—while experiencing them, though according to one source, he is using safe web practices; in the end, he is opening the viewers eyes to a new way to utilize the internet, to experience rather than surf. In Rhizome Digest 4.22.05, Melinda Rackham notes of screenfull.net, “Our protagonists are artists jimpunk and Abe Linkoln–personas who both draw on iconic associations with disparate and powerful US cultural historic and animated figures. Together their strength is in working across the history of networked art, design, aesthetics and theory in this
remix of the phenomenal blogging paradigm.”

Jim Punk can also be political, including his work in a series protesting the war in Iraq with his (no longer online) nowar.nogame.tv. Another piece which I could find, “Noise”, which shows a cycling image of a plane and a rocket to background static noise. In another piece, “World Trade Center”, Punk merely uses erratic color flashes and one word “remember”. However, there is no question what he is alluding to, and how powerful this message is.

Using the web as a medium, Punk is able to capture the viewer with two of their more powerful senses, sight and hearing. But also causes us to think critically about what he is saying, and how he is conveying that message. It is safe to say I have never seen art like this, but Jim Punk and others like him are paving the way for other artists to utilize and extremely powerful tool.

“At first, you’re asking yourself, “Is this supposed to be happening?” But after you get over the initial shock, you start to get into it.”
Posted by Devon Taylor at 10:26 AM



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