Sans objet. 9 abstract works made for the web browser

Centre Pompidou online, 19 May – 19 November 2021

The web browser presents several affinities with the canvas, simultaneously playing the role of the frame and of the “open window” on representation, granted to painting by the humanist Leon Battista Alberti during the early Renaissance. Readily borrowing from a vocabulary of open spaces and exploration (from the Net “scape” browser of the 1990s, to Internet “Explorer”), its primary purpose is to be an interface onto the external world. However, it has often been used by artists, sparing all references to the world that surrounds us, to produce purely abstract works, in the lineage of pioneers of computer-assisted drawings like Vera Molnar or Manfred Mohr.

This online exhibit groups 9 creations, from the 1990s – that saw the first “net art” artists develop the idea that a website could be a work of art in its own right – to today. It invites you to explore this form of digital creation, whether built in reference to the history of painting or by exploring the specificity of digital tools.

Created solely for the space of the browser, this exhibit without walls invites you to consult these works just as they were conceived by the artists, on the original URL when it is still available. Some works, interactive or otherwise, were created before the development of touchscreen technology used by smartphones and tablets: a full-screen computer experience is therefore advised.