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RealTime + OnScreen, august 2004

Ciber@rt, Bilbao: casting a wider net (extract)

Bilbao is a city well suited to exploring the “Challenges to a Ubiquitous Identity” theme of this year’s Ciber@rt festival and conference of digital art, since the city is in the midst of transforming its own identity from industrial powerhouse to cultural centre. It is the site of the new Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Gehry (with the aid of computer modelling), a wonderful building that stretches out along the river in a sculptural medley of titanium, limestone and glass.

Ciber@rt is a biennial event that began in Valencia, Spain in 1996 and relocated to Bilbao in 2004. This year’s festival was held at 2 different venues about 15 minutes walk apart. The exhibition was located in an old indoor market place, The Mercado del Ensanche. A total of 237 pieces were on show, most of them screen-based internet works providing an exhilarating investigation into internet culture in the broadest sense. The organisers were able to draw from a wide range of activity happening on the internet, thereby dodging the impasses of territorial contests. The works were divided into 5 separate categories: Net-Art, Multimedia, Minimisation (which included narrative and experimental work), Animation and Interactive Installations.

The multimedia section was also screen-based, consisting of 22 separate works, 8 of which were by the legendary Nicolas Clauss from Paris who has been working on the internet since 2000 ( In this short time he has produced an amazing quantity of work, often in collaboration with composers, sound artists or programmers. At a time when so much internet art is concerned with programming or networking, Clauss’ work is delightfully different. He focuses on the human, the fragile, the whimsical and the sensuous. Most of his pieces are small and exquisite, inviting you to engage through rollovers, which can set off unexpected sounds or shift an already strange image. One of my favourites, Le Cri, is a powerful reworking of Munch’s The Scream, conveying an inconsolable anguish.

Maria Miranda

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