Tonight marks the opening of jstchillin‘s final act, READ/WRITE, an exhibition staged at 319 Scholes in Brooklyn. Over the past year an a half founders Caitlin Denny and Parker Ito presented works by thirty-five international artists into an ongoing online exhibition. Many within internet based art communities have repeatedly pointed to the jstchillin’s efforts and projects as some of the most enlightened and exciting contemporary work made online. Through videos, interactive works, installations, essays, and various fabricated ephemera, the site generated a sense of community that other more sterile institutions could only hope for. The playful sincerity of Denny and Ito’s enthusiasm for the projects presented on their site make jstchillin stand out as an easily approachable and incredibly rich resource. Their deliberate sense of curation of the site also seperates it’s from the typical blog fair of “things people like” which in turn creates a more telling and also more faithful testament to art online.

Projects on jstchillin had various motivations and inceptions; some were made in response to each other, others to prompt outside engagement, but most can be observed as detailed attempts at gaining a more fulfilling understanding of net-material. Undoubtably jstchillin built off the surf-club mentality of projects like nasty nets and spirit surfers, but the format of their month long presentations created a more honed perspective of working being made in response to screen cultures. The inherent social infrastructure of the web was something that Denny and Ito both acknowledge as playing a large part in the initiation of their project. In some ways they wanted to translate, and perhaps elevate, the activities they were already doing online, into an artistic act that others could share and revel in together.

In the above video the three of us get a chance to talk about the origins of the project and how it has changed throughout it’s duration. We discuss some of the difficulties of translating work offline into physical space and how to address the growing gallery attention that work like this is gaining in traditional art markets. Denny suggests that a direct lifting of the personal computer screen into gallery projection of mounted faltscreens is not the ultimate answer. Both Denny and Ito charged artists with the challenge of translating the mood of their work into an object or installation scenario to avoid the underselling of the content that often happens when work from the web migrates to the gallery. This tactic is addressed through various different methods within the show, including live performance (Ida Lehtonen performance starts at 9pm), painting, appropriated snuggies, interference-running computers, documentation of off-site installations, and telepresence kiosks.

With most of the artists present during the evening, the space will be packed with new and exciting projects that artists have made in order to continue the discussion that Denny, Ito and myself address in our conversation. Undoubtably READ/WRITE will not only help facilitate moving the sentiment of screen-based work into a more fruitful discourse with other mediums, but it will also be an excellent and apropos send off for jstchillin.

Nicholas O'Brien

Nicholas O'Brien is a new media artist, curator/organizer, and academic living and working in Chicago. Since getting his BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Nicholas work has been included in multiple national and international venues including The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, The Xth Biennial in Lyon net art project mybiennialisbetterthanyours.com, Lampo, Tank.tv, and the Centro Multimedia in Mexico City. He has also curated many screenings and live audio-visual performances within the Chicago area under many different projects including co-founding an alternative artist-run space called BUSKER which operated between 2005 and 2007. Currently, Nicholas is an adjunct faculty in the Department of Interactive Art and Media at Columbia College teaching media theory. More information about his work can be found at doubleunderscore.net