We’re used to seeing the offline world manifested online, whether it be in the form of photos, Google Street View, video clips, or even 3D environments. But how will we react to unexpected intrusions from the online world into the physical spaces and places we inhabit? Well, Aram Bartholl is a Berlin-based artist who likes to explore that incipient link between the virtual and physical worlds, while at the same time addressing emerging dangers and power structures that exist in the overlap between them. Bartholl is fond of taking symbols of the virtual and displacing them in urban environments—for instance, taking the signature red markers of Google Maps and re-interpreting them as installation pieces in various global city centres in the project Map, or embedding USB ports in brick walls around New York City to create ad hoc offline peer-to-peer file sharing outposts in Dead Drops.
His latest project continues this theme of juxtaposing the applications of the digital with the real. Called Highscreen and created for contemporary audiovisual champions ARTE Creative—a website and online network that celebrates, encourages, and introduces audiovisual artists both established and new—Bartholl’s work is a public intervention piece that turns discarded monitors into display terminals in a new kind of “street art.” The piece involves Aram driving around the streets of Berlin reviving dumped CRT monitors (the pre-LCD bulky ones) and turning them into temporary canvases for art, showcasing works by Internet art heavyweights such as: 404 by JODI, Super Mario Clouds by Cory Arcangel, C.R.E.A.M. by Evan Roth, and therevolvinginternet.com by Constant Dullaart.
Not only does the project give these unloved pieces of old technology a last artistic hurrah before they shuffle off to the giant computer factory in the sky, but it also finds a creative way to take these iconic Internet artworks out of the confines of the your individual computer and out into public space.