The Madison Square Park Conservancy begins its 2008 season with Mad. Sq. Art: Olia Lialina & Dragan Espenschied’s Online Newspapers: New York Edition, an Internet based installation created from front pages of four local daily newspapers—the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Post and New York Daily News—to be shown daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on four outdoor video screens on the grounds of the Shake Shack.
Online Newspapers: New York Edition
On view in Madison Square Park are digitized front pages from four of New York’s most read and revered newspapers—the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Post and New York Daily News. However, these pages are not the online versions we have become accustomed to but scanned versions of the printed page, illuminated by seemingly incongruous low-res, glittery, and jittery graphics.
Since its beginnings, the World Wide Web has been a source for global news and opinion. In the early days hobbyists and amateur journalists harnessed the new technology to disseminate personal opinion and narratives. Yet the Web quickly became home to major media outlets and corporations who present information with a standardized aesthetic that echoes their print newspapers. With this corporate take over, the myriad quirky graphic styles that defined the homegrown aesthetic of the Internet’s beginnings, such as brightly colored animated gifs and sparkling clip art, were quickly subsumed by the work of professional web designers and usability experts.
For Online Newspapers: New York Edition, artists Olia Lialina and Dragan Espenschied revive the amateur aesthetic by pairing it with the content of the mainstream press; they imagine how news sites would appear were they developed by the lay journalists whose aesthetic choices defined Web culture before the dot-com boom. By applying this aesthetic to a particular cross section of New York City papers, the artists subtly point to the qualitative assumptions we make about information we read and the significant role design plays in these impressions. Creating a faux precedent to today’s Web news, Online Newspapers also alludes to the perpetual obsolescence of technology and style—a major factor in our ever-changing media landscape.
About the Artists
Russian-born artist Olia Lialina currently teaches at the Merz Academie in Germany. Originally a film critic, for the past decade she has produced influential works of network-based art and art criticism. Dragan Espenschied, born in Germany, has received international acclaim for his online art and music, and is a lecturer at the Merz Academie in Germany. Individually and as collaborative partners, the work of both artists has been exhibited extensively online and at venues including Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria; Deitch Projects, New York; the New Museum, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany.