Programmed by Clint Enns. Presented at Video Pool in Winnipeg, Manitoba on March 13, 2010.
In September 2009, I was fortunate enough to have downloaded a copy of Anders Weberg’s 090909 (2009).
090909 is a 9 hour, 9 minute and 9 second long audio visual excursion made as part of Weberg’s p2p art project. The film and all the files used to create it were deleted after the file was shared to a p2p network.
Come join us at Video Pool for the screening of 090909 in its entirety. Feel free to stay for as long or as little as you like. At the end of the screening, the file will be deleted the file from my computer, potentially deleting the last available copy of this film forever.
Kier-La Janisse, “090909,” Uptown Magazine (November 3, 2010).
Author and cultural commentator Tom Wolfe had a story in his book The Painted Word about the greatest artist who ever lived; he was too poor to afford paints or brushes, so he dipped his finger in the free water he got from a café, drew his idea on a napkin and then died right there on the spot. Eventually, the water dried up and there was no evidence that the world’s greatest work of art had ever existed.
An experiment in this kind of aesthetic ephemerality is being mounted this weekend with the Winnipeg premiere of Swedish artist Anders Weberg’s 090909 (2009). This public screening of Weberg’s stunningly beautiful nine-hour experimental film is not just an exercise in temporal endurance, it’s also employing the last known copy of the film – which will be destroyed immediately after the screening.
090909 is the sixth instalment of Weberg’s ongoing P2P art project, wherein a film is uploaded to a file-sharing network such as Bittorrent, and then the ‘original’ is permanently deleted from Weberg’s hard drive. He retains no physical copies – the film will only survive as long as it is being shared via peer-to-peer networks and runs the risk of being lost forever. Weberg’s hope is that the films will disappear quickly. “On Aug. 8, 2008, I released 080808,” he recalls, “and that film was only shared for four days, and has not resurfaced since then. That, for me, was the first time the art project was successful.”
In light of this, what effect has curator Clint Enns had on Weberg’s concept by “rescuing” the film and screening it in 2010?
“What Clint is screening is a copy, so that has no direct effect on the concept,” Weberg assures. But complicating this concept is the muddy distinction between what constitutes an original and what constitutes a copy. With film, the original would be the negative, which is a tangible artifact you can hold in your hand. But video is, in essence, a storage format, so the concept of an original is more elusive. “That is a huge question and this is discussed everywhere in the digital era,” Weberg concedes. “I think the ‘precious’ original will always have a place in people’s hearts, but today, most of us approach media very ephemerally, because everything is available and free online.”
Curator Enns is quick to recognize the irony inherent in Weberg’s use of the Internet as a platform: “I think it is a wonderful concept,” he says, “creating scarcity using a technology that is intended to make information readily accessible and reproducible.” On one such network there is an offering from Weberg entitled The .torrent is the art work (2009). But if the torrent is the artwork, is it sufficient to have the torrent on your hard drive and not even watch the video? If the means of dissemination reduces the work to the discussion and devalues the video itself, perhaps Tom Wolfe was right in asserting the flaw in conceptual art: that the art disappears and we are left only with art theory.
But as Enns rightly points out: “The theory may be just as ephemeral as the art if no one is writing about it.”
Ed Ackerman’s documentation of the event.