Expensive to Own, Free to Enjoy: When a Website Is a Collectible Work of Art

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The Creators Project interviews Rafaël Rozendaal, whose interactive websites delight viewers and art collectors alike. 

What’s so great about artist Rafaël Rozendaal is that he’s so accessible—but it’s not just because his artwork is available online for all to see. He updates his blog almost daily with little feasts for the eye whether it be a new GIF, sketch, or anecdotal observation. He even has a separate Twitter account for everything he eats.

In honor of Digital Arts Week (#DIGART) and the debut of his Creator profile, Rozendaal kindly agreeded to debut a brand new work with us: inner doubts .com, and answered a few questions about his process of choosing domain names.

Screenshot of inner doubts .com (2012), Rafaël Rosendaal

The Creators Project: How do you decide to title your works? Do you put more thought into titling because your works live on permanent domains?

Rafaël Rozendaal: I am not sure how it exactly works. It is associative and intuitive … seeing which name is available determines the name as much as my own idea of an ideal name. In a way it’s like you want to make an apple pie, but it turns out the store is out of apples so you have to choose another fruit. And the pie turns out to be better because of it.

Have you ever had any regrets when titling your work? Do you have a piece whose title you wish you could change?

Yeah … Why Was He Sad .com is a very shitty title for a great piece.

 

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Screenshot of Why Was He Sad .com (2003), collection of Miltos Manetas

I appreciate the title of inner doubts .com because when you’re clicking around, the maze never really gets solved … it just changes. It reminds me of that old saying about how worrying is like a rocking chair, you can rock all you want, but you’ll never get anywhere. What were you thinking when you were making/titling this particular work?

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The piece is a diagram of digestion, possibly human intestines. If you follow the movement of the colors you see how the energy flows through the body. I came up with the idea while sitting on the toilet (of course). The digestion is abstracted and because of its form it presents formal questions. That is why I named it Inner Doubts, because I can never decide on compositions, so I let the computer decide. I admire Picasso who seemed to not have doubts, he just did it. I doubt a lot …

Do you think there’s an ideal way to display digital artwork?

Think about music. Is there an ideal way to listen to a song? On your iPhone? In the car? Big Stereo? Small club concert? A big stadium show? It’s awesome that there are all these different ways of listening to the same song, each context has its pros and cons. Same goes for digital artworks, especially websites.

If the Internet didn’t exist, what kind of art would you be making?

Hard to imagine … I like drawing a lot, maybe that would be it, and making music.

This post also appears on The Creators Project, an Atlantic partner site. 

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Kathleen Flood is managing editor of The Creators Project and is based in New York City. More

Flood is intrigued by GIFs (and other internet-based artwork), and appreciates the growing number of fashion designers who are incorporating technology into their designs in a non-tacky way. She enjoys hot yoga and just finished working on a film about a new media collective that's using technology to take over the world.
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