You sit still in the Christmas Eve of ’99, staring at me at my desk. As the years roll by, this photograph has faded along with my memory of you. I scanned in a digital copy in hopes of preservation, but that does not apply to the archive in our minds.
I’m afraid I’ll forget how you used to make porridge. I’m afraid I’ll forget the sound of your singing voice. I’m afraid I’ll forget all your sayings and quips which I laughed at growing up. Like the increasing distortion of these glitched images, everyday I forget a bit of you, and hold on dearly to photographs that can’t compare to the smell of your powder and nightly stout.
Jodi.org is a web-based work by the art duo Jodi comprising Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans. Upon launching the site, users are immediately disoriented, unable to find an overall structure or familiar elements like ‘Menu’ or ‘About’ which we habitually use to navigate sites. Instead, the user encounters a chaotic mass of green on black ASCII code. From prior experience with the Internet, users will suspect that this is an error in the computerised system —
A New Aesthetic of Imperfection
Jodi.org deconstructs and draws to the surface lines of code usually hidden and obscured by designers. By stripping away the superficial appearance and revealing the workings of websites, code becomes the visual focus and content instead of a purely functional device.
“Find catharsis in disintegration, ruptures and cracks; manipulate, bend and break any medium towards the point where it becomes something new.” — Rosa Menkman, “Glitch Studies Manifesto” from “Glitch Moment(um)” (2011)
Embodying the spirit of glitch as articulated in Menkman’s Glitch Studies Manifesto[i], Heemskerk and Paesmans were pioneers of using code in a painterly way; they created an unexpected and beautiful disarray of elements by incorporating inevitable imperfections. Glitches, typically seen as erroneous, here
engender experimentation. Although not traditionally ‘aesthetic’, Jodi.org’s site deconstruction has created a new type of beauty and visual medium which has been assimilated into modern aesthetics.
Disrupting Flow & Subverting Expectations
The disruption of internet conventions subverts expectation and leads users to question the functionality of their browser. Has our computer malfunctioned and gone haywire? The work also unexpectedly downloads files and logs information such as current time and date, possibly making some users feel compromised and uncomfortable. As we typically have omnipotence over our browsing experience, this infringement of one’s privacy and browsing space makes users question the agency of their actions. Furthermore, each launch of Jodi.org brings the users to different websites, creating near-infinite variations of dynamic, non-linear narratives.
In this way, while fascinating and enthralling, the work is more than an aesthetic exercise and seeks to destabilise and deconstruct our understanding of the online medium.