Contents
Introduction
Chapter 1:
Internet Art
Chapter 2:
Institutions
Chapter 3:
Digital Weakness
Conclusion
Table of Figures
Footnotes
Bibliography
Glossary
James Hayes' art website


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The first website, Bodies© INCorporated by Victoria Vesna 12 (see Figure 2) uses many aspects of the current Internet technology to express Vesna's ideas on how this new medium is seen as wish fulfilling by the general public, while at the same time sacrificing individual control to corporate legal copyright jargon. This piece is an extension of an earlier gallery exhibited interactive work Virtual Concrete, a physical installation with an Internet extension.

Online, viewers could not only see real-time projection of those in the gallery space, but they could also talk with one another live, place an order for a virtual body from a pre-determined set of parts, view live images uploaded from the physical installation, engage in a public discussion about the art piece, access others' orders, or read a critical essay about the project.13

The Bodies© INCorporated website extends these ideas independently of any physical art "object". A major aspect of this piece is the presentation of a corporate style of text that both hypes a product while simultaneously numbing the viewer with its repetitive legal disclaimers and contracts.

Figure 2 Victoria Vesna's Bodies© INCorporated, Terms and Conditions of use page, http://www.bodiesinc.ucla.edu/termcons.html, December 2001

An example of the text that Vesna employs on her site reads:

CONGRATULATONS! You are now free to go anywhere and free to do and/or buy anything. TOTAL democracy reigns supreme, and happy consumers are handsomely rewarded. . Appearing larger than life gets you sexually aroused. You are being watched by countless eyes and through multiple lenses -- all in sharp focus.14

This sales-person patter draws in the viewer (who has already had to agree to several lengthy disclaimers) to registering for a "virtual" body. The entire process is a play on the idea of Internet community interaction, as well as helpless dependence upon a "supplier" (in this case Vesna's company Bodies© INCorporated). The supplier's view of the user runs:

Realize that your total autonomy is itself anything but an exclusive fiction. "Decency" is defined in strict codes in the virtuality of the material realm; SURVEILLANCE is firmly established, and privacy demolished. . Be aware, there are rigid codes of conduct members must follow in order to retain active membership within the Body Owner community. The hierarchy is strictly undefined.15

Within the first few years that this project was "live" on the Internet, Vesna received over 4,000 orders for virtual bodies, which she had no way of logistically realising for the viewers. This project pulled on technical skills far beyond the scope of the individual, much in the way that the project attempts to give the viewer an individual virtual presence, yet strictly enforces a corporate approach to how this virtual body may function. What results is not a truly interactive (or even satisfying) experience, as the viewer is led away from this dream of total freedom into a maze of disclaimers and contracts. The limited number of virtual bodies displayed on the website have been selected by Vesna from amongst the thousands ordered.

by James Hayes
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