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Indepth Arts News:

"David Claerbout: Present - Download an Amaryllis, Gerbera or a Rose for Your Computer"
2000-11-09 until 2000-12-31
Dia Center for the Arts
New York, NY, USA

On November 9, 2000, Dia Center for the Arts will launch Present, a work devised by David Claerbout for Dia's series of artists' projects for the world wide web. The address for the project will be http://www.diacenter.org/claerbout. An event celebrating the project will be held in Dia's bookstore on November 9th, 2000 at 548 West 22nd Street, New York City, 6-8 pm.

For his first computer-based artwork, Claerbout offers visitors the choice of three flowers to download from the internet. An amaryllis, gerbera, or red rose will then live on each visitor's computer for approximately one week, after which time it will remove itself, leaving a seed to send to someone else. During the flower's lifespan, the user will be able to view it by clicking on a desktop icon. Depending on the local time, a brief, looping video of the flower will appear in morning, afternoon or evening light, or darkness.

Present responds to Claerbout's struggle with the lack of body, or presence, on the internet, while building on his interest in using video and digital technology to animate imagery so that a temporal relationship is created between the viewer and the work. In his 1999 interactive video projection, Untitled (Carl and Julie), the viewer encounters a man sitting outside on a patio talking with a girl who has her back to the viewer. When the viewer triggers a sensor, the girl turns her head to look out of the scene, involving the viewer in the moment of the image. With Present, Claerbout expands on his interest in temporal relationships linking image and viewer by engaging the media of digital technology and the internet. Even though the flower lives in a wholly digital environment, it manifests the rhythms of an organic lifecycle as in real time. Its presence and eventual (automatic) disappearance interject real world temporality into a digital environment where time normally lacks organic reference. Extending the natural metaphor, the seed that remains after the flower is gone can be given as a gift, complete with a message from the sender. In this sense, Present reflects on its context: the gift economy in which most network-based art is created.

Funding for Dia's series of artists' projects for the web has been provided by the New York State Council on the Arts. Photography for the project was done by Philip Bol and programming was done by Peter Berry, Steven Fujita and John Sharp of Tall Software.

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