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Auriea Harvey's digital worlds are love stories, without clean endings| GuyWhoKnowsThings


Installed on old hardware in the Museum of the Moving Image Set in Astoria, Queens, presented chronologically, the first studio of groundbreaking internet artist Auriea Harvey's career tells a story about mortality and survival.

In Harvey's jewel worlds, there are no heroes or villains, only people, lost and loved, tangled in the wake of technology.

Harvey, born in 1971 in Indianapolis, helped expand the perspectives of digital art: utopias, games, accidents and all. In the 1990s, he created boundary-pushing images using GIFs, Shockwave animations, and the programming languages ​​HTML and Java. His sumptuous personal website, Entropy8.comrestored for show, won Webby Awards in 1997 and 1998.

In recent years, Harvey has dedicated himself to sculpting imaginary but mythical-looking artifacts that exist both as 3D-printed statues and shiny virtual models. In the museum, you can make several spin on transparent screens by waving your hand. The “mixed reality” sculptures incorporate scans of old artwork, hand-molded clay, and your own facial features—they appear cracked, worn, and instantly timeless.

With every technological change, the twinkle of new possibilities meets the pull of obsolescence.

Their story is also a cyber romance. As the title of the program says: “My veins are the cables. “My body is your keyboard.” The cables belong to everyone, but the keyboard is just for “you”, invoking the still irreplicable intimacy of a lover's touch.

In 1999, Harvey found love on a site called Hell.com, a portal for hackers, artists, and digital misfits. There she met Michael Samyn, a Belgian digital artist who works as Zuper!; He has been her romantic and creative partner ever since.

Within months of their meet-cute, Harvey moved to Belgium. (Now married, they live in Rome). In this exhibition, organized by Regina Harsanyi, Harvey's solo projects complement the couple's collaborations. Like Entropy8Zuper!, they performed public displays of affection, radical in their exhibitionism, but enhanced by mystery. His work imbued the realm of code machines and terminals with intimate poetry.

On view is a recording of a 1999 performance, “whispering windows,” where lovers shared sensual words on crunchy, low-bandwidth webcams while an audience watched from their own screens. Another monitor shows one of the couple's erotic chat room sessions. In 1999, Harvey and Samyn compiled the animated love letters they had exchanged through a secret Hell.com subfolder as the website “Skin on skin on skin”, and sold subscriptions. On one page, you can “pet” an image of Harvey's face with the cursor and “she” turns her head.

Like Hell.com, Harvey's work was meant to be mysterious and sometimes baffling, and to reward the curious. The program features influential projects from Entropy8Zuper!, such as “The Museum of God's Love”, a gothic and naughty digital novel that narrates their romance through abstract mini-games and sometimes violent animations. On one page, the user has to break the screen with virtual stones and the broken glass bleeds.

Clearly, they were having fun. In the same gallery, a spotted video clip shows the couple accepting a Webby in 2000; They spent their time on the podium kissing. Later, they turned this image of their intertwined bodies into a three-dimensional model, titled “The Kiss,” that viewers can explore on a nearby screen.

In 2003, Harvey and Samyn founded an independent video game company called story telling. Like his web-based projects, his video games feature atmospheric settings, slow pacing, diverse characters, and open-ended (or endless) stories, more akin to real life than movies.

The retrospective will play four major titles in large projections (with playback videos for two others, plus two interactive mobile games). However, on each of my visits, at least one had failed; Apparently, it's not easy to keep creaky hardware running for hours on end.

In his cult hit “The Path”, a short horror game from 2009 that draws on the darker folklore of Little Red Riding Hood, your only instruction is to “stay on the path” to Grandma's house, but most of the excitement unfolds when you disobey and plunge into the woods. The hallucinatorySummer soon”, from 2012, consists largely of a walk along a holographic dream beach; Closing your avatar's eyes is an essential game mechanic.

Tale of Tales has many fans in the gaming community, but after the disappointing sales of its 2015 title “Sunset”, a somewhat boring game based on housework starring a housekeeper who maintains an attic during a civil war, announced his bitter departure of the industry.

Harvey and Samyn grew up in the halcyon internet, when independent artists weren't creating online content, they were building worlds. Almost instantly, these worlds began to fade away.

You might be wondering why you would travel to Astoria to see a showcase of web-based art and video games, many of which you can still download. The fall into digital darkness is one reason. Harvey's work, and that of many other web artists, took a major hit in 2021 when major web browsers stopped supporting the Flash plugin that powers many online projects. Rhizome, an organization that preserves digital art, has restored a handful of Entropy8 and Entropy8Zuper. projects for this exhibition.

But entropy has always enhanced the beauty of Harvey's art.

Auriea Harvey

Through July 7, Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35 Avenue, Astoria; 718–777–6800, movingimage.org.


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