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Ray Beldner, Artist, San Francisco

Flickr, Flarfing and Babelfish: The Internet and Art Practice

March 2, 2009; 51 Minutes; Video

“The fact that everything is possible on the Internet reveals mankind’s true essence, the aspiration towards freedom.”
—Pierre Lévy, “Collective Intelligence: A Civilization”

The ubiquity of computers and access to the Internet has put the greatest libraries, image databases, and interactive tools at the fingertips of most artists working today. As a result, traditional artistic practice is exploding as artists explore the potential of these new technologies and incorporate them into their working methodologies.

In his talk, sculptor Ray Beldner describes the vital role the Internet plays in his own creative process. He presents examples of work in which he has mined porn websites, looking for “fine art,” and used online language translation programs like a game of telephone, to remake some of JFK’s greatest speeches to hilarious and ironic effect. He has even dabbled in the poetry of Google searches to create “Flarf” verse, which he reads. These everyday uses of the Internet are only a few examples of how the web has liberated artists’ understanding of “found” materials and is leading to the greatest expansion and democratization of creative practice in our history.