Organized by Rhizome and co-presented by the New Museum of Contemporary Art



Accidental Blue Screen, John Michael Boling
Professional Surfer is a group exhibition that considers web browsing (aka 'surfing') as an art form.

It brings together websites run by individuals and collectives who re-publish found digital material next to remixed graphics, video, performance and commentary. Framed as individual artworks, the websites employ appropriation in ways that are reminiscent of Pop, video or conceptual art, yet set apart by a deep immersion in their surrounding digital environment. Presented in blog posts, or across a series of interlinked web pages, their projects transform the anarchic territory of the Internet into an aesthetic that could only be borne out of a territory in which commerce and creativity, amateurs and professionals, as well as divergent cultures and styles are in constant flux and uncomfortable proximity.

Significantly, some of the featured artists grew up with the web, and aspects of their work chart the digital half-life of pop cultural images or icons from their youth. Others took up the Internet later on, after working with painting or other mediums. In this way, professional surfing is not restricted to a certain generation but shared by all those who engage the overwhelming atmosphere of the web by embroiling themselves deeper in it. Together, their projects chart the evolution of the web, powerfully blending humor, criticism and a sense of the sublime.

Organized by Lauren Cornell for Rhizome.



John Michael Boling, 2005-Present

53os is shorthand for John Michael Boling's verbally-challenging website: http://www.gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooogle.com/, an apt domain name for an artist who pushes all the material he works with to the extreme, often inverting or amplifying its original meaning. Key to Boling's approach is his ability to connect shared fantasies across a range of found material. For instance, Guitar Solo Threeway (2006), a grid of YouTube videos featuring solo amateur guitarists jamming out, puts a spotlight on the pervasive fantasy of rockstardom. Suggested projects are Lord of the Flies, which animates dozens of cursor arrows as they cluster around Google's brand name in a parody of the search engine's monolithic power over its users; Accidental Blue Screen, which overlays blue screen animation onto segments of found photographs; and Channel 53, a mock public access channel that features YouTube video only.

Channel 53 is co-programmed by artist Javier Morales.


Pages in the Middle of Nowhere
Olia Lialina, 1998-present

Russian artist Olia Lialina is a pioneer of Internet art practice. Her 1996 project My Boyfriend Came Back From the War, an interactive work that allowed viewers to choose a path through inter-connected pages, was one of the earliest and most influential works of online cinema. Over the past decade, her focus has shifted from an investigation of the formal possibilities of the web to an exploration of web aesthetics, such as graphics and other forms of online creative expression. Her website serves as a collection for her diverse works. Selected projects include Some Universe (2002), which compiles gif animations of stars into an expansive collage of the cosmos; Midnight (2006) which allows users to traverse a retro-graphic laden universe with the aid of a Google maps compass; and With Elements of Web 2.0 (2006), a satirical look at creative online platform and the limited options they offer.

Both Midnight and With Elements of Web 2.0 were made in collaboration with Dragan Espenschied.


Joel Holmberg, 2005-present

Joel Holmberg is a Los Angeles-based artist, one of the founding members of the Nasty Nets surfing club, and the creative force behind Chillsesh. Combining original performance and video with mash-ups of all kinds, Holmberg's site makes the line between what he's found and what he's originally authored difficult to decipher. Selected works include Palm Tree Palindrome, a video that features a mesmeric procession of palm trees on either side of the frame, evoking film sprockets and the notable absence of narrative in a piece with a seemingly forward thrust; BwO, which hilariously elevates the soft-focus effects in a scene from the movie My Life starring Michael Keaton to the metaphysical by overlaying a reading of A Thousand Plateaus, a famous book by theorists Deleuze and Guattari; and Log roll, which literally shows the artist rolling across an empty studio, a repetitive gesture amplified by a technique that rolls the video back and forth in perpetual motion.


Nasty Nets
Members (See below), 2006-present

Founded by John Michael Boling, Joel Holmberg, Guthrie Lonergan and Marisa Olson, and now boasting ten members (full list below), Nasty Nets is a self-described 'Internet Surfing Club' that takes the form of a collectively-published blog. Sifting through the club's archives, it is clear that members share a taste for the ridiculous. Posts entitled All of the phony names from spam emails that I have received this month as a rockyou textpix slideshow inter-mingle with hundreds of other found photographs, retro-graphics, sound files, and video created or found by the different members. Yet, the distinction between parody and sincere appreciation is here collapsed, as in much work that references digital pop culture. Another lesson learned by browsing through Nasty Nets is that everything on the Internet, much like the real-world relates to marketing. Even in this category, members can find transcendence as in a post featuring a snapshot of the word 'Pepsi' amateurishly etched into a clear blue sky. Underlying the Nasty Nets project seems to be the question of whether it is possible to originally create works that could trump the complicated emotional and graphic detritus freely available online. The question is left unanswered. Suggested work can be found in the archives.

Members: John Michael Boling, Joel Holmberg, Guthrie Lonergan, Marisa Olson, Travis Hallenbeck, Michael Bell-Smith, Tom Moody, Brian Blomerth, Peter Baldes, and Paul Slocum.


Cosmic Disciple
Travis Hallenbeck, 2004-present

Started in 2005, Travis Hallenbeck's Cosmic Disciple blog is replete with Internet ephemera, that ranges from one-off finds to curated collections to evidence of various collaborations with strangers conducted online. Taking the format of a Live Journal page, which is known for features that encourage the idiosyncrasies of individual bloggers, Hallenbeck's posts offer not only commentary, but also a full-on sensory experience as he wittily contextualizes each post with his mood in words ('bitchy,' 'anxious,' 'angry') and via emoticons :) :(, along with mention of the music or ambient noise he's tuned into (The Carrots or high speed scanning). Suggested works include Banjo, Harmonica, Kalimba, and Gunshot tied for #1, which encompasses bitmap images of General MIDI instruments made by Internet users Hallenbeck is paying through Amazon's program, Mechanical Turk; People I want to Play Shows With, a project in which Hallenbeck contacted dozens of Colorado residents through Myspace to see if they would play with him while he was passing through the state; and LJ Icon Remix, in which he remixed Live Journal's mood icons.


Members (See below), 2001-present

Supercentral was founded by Charles Broskoski, as a site for friends interested in skateboarding. In the past two years, the site has grown into an ad-hoc community platform, that is published by seventeen bloggers. The emphasis on skateboarding is now gone, and the various authors, mostly Houston-based, cover subjects as diverse as contemporary art, found objects, music, random photography, or anything that reflects their interests. Suggested works include fbi, which averaged the pixels in an FBI top ten most wanted series into one grainy, colorful image; and a post elusively titled The Perfect Human featuring a scan of basketball player Lebron James' birth certificate; and Gymnopedie 3 a collection of different version of experimental composer Erik Satie's Gymnopedie 1, that ends with readers formulating their own versions.

Members: ben, cabbie, christoph, emily, jessica, jww, kamau, lurkstatus, mcFly, nate, pete, robin, schwartz, seneca, tom, vron, and willis.