In a recent article, BitTorrent Gets Artsy, I discussed how BitTorrent and other P2P networks have begun to transform the way that independent art is distributed. Having already changed the distribution model of other forms of media like music, movies, and books, P2P has now been utilized as a means for independent artists to to do the same with their creative works of passion. Be it photography, film, or any of their other artistic endeavors, artists have a new paradigm shift in their hands that they can now utilize to bypass the traditional gatekeepers that have long controlled creative access to the public square. What P2P did to put music and movies at peoples fingertips is now broadening its reach into art.
Anders Weberg is one such new P2P artist that has taken advantage of the file-sharing medium and used it to put his work in this ever expanding virtual global “gallery.” He considers P2P and the Net to be the new “streets of today,” and that his work is an expression of his love for “…street art, graffiti and performance art…”
Weberg labels himself as a “Mixed Media Artist and Filmmaker, ” and resides in the small coastal town of Ängelholm in the south of Sweden. His genre is termed “P2P Art – The aesthetics of ephemerality.” The key here is the notion of “ephemerality,” or “the property of lasting for a very short time.” Much like graffiti or street art, it is subject to the whims of mankind, and the impression it leaves on the viewer often lasts more than the work itself. This ephemerality also usually describes the fate of what is generally downloaded from P2P networks and so too the point of Weberg’s inspiration. In many cases material is simply deleted after being downloaded and viewed, though others may choose to save that very same indefinitely. It’s this notion of “living and dying by the sword,” by the illusory likes and dislikes of the P2P population, that form the founding thesis of his work.
On his website, P2P-art, he notes:
(It is) Art made for – and only available on – the peer to peer networks. The original artwork is first shared by the artist until one other user has downloaded it. The original file and all the material used to create it are deleted by the artist. After that the artwork will be available for as long as other users share it. The original file and all the material used to create it are deleted by the artist.
There’s no original.
This is the key attribute of his work. Once he has uploaded it onto the Pirate Bay or another one of the BitTorrent sites out there he immediately deletes all of the material he used to create it. From then forward it lives and breathes so long as users share it.
I recently had a chance to interview Mr. Weberg and get a more in-depth look at the man behind P2P art, both who he is and what his work is all about.
What motivated you to start creating P2P art?
For the last 10 years I have been fascinated about the net culture and how it has developed and how the boundaries between offline/online is being erased. That and being a fan of street art, graffiti and performance art I just transformed it into the streets of today, The Net. Also how most of the users treat their downloads ephemeral. That’s how I got the idea of making a film that is supposed to be used that way. Download it, share it if you like or just delete it. If you like it, keep it. The aesthetics of ephemerality.
In your opinion, what do you think P2P networks mean for the future of art distribution and how do you think it will affect the current model?
I think there will be a lot of experimenting with the format of artworks and the ways of communicating. Probably the producer/audience-boundary will be further disputed or eroded.
I’m really enthusiastic about the peer to peer networks and to be a part of it’s progress.
What upcoming art projects do you have in store for the P2P community?
I’m currently working on a audio-pdf file that will be released as p2p-art in the beginning of November.
Other than that. Many of the projects I make are freely available on the web, but not always direct through p2p. I just released an artwork called “Being There” that twists the ideas about tourism. I’ve made the artwork together with cultural analyst and sound designer Robert Willim. There are six short movies on the website…http://www.beingthere.se/ free to download.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
I just wanna say a big THANK YOU to the community for keeping the film alive, donations, and for the feedback I’ve had.
In closing, what I like about Mr. Weberg is how he expanded the possibilities of file-sharing and P2P beyond the general norms. He is one of those rare creative souls that thinks outside the box and makes his mark by exploring untested possibilities and potentials. P2P and the Net truly are the new “streets of today,” and Anders Weberg’s “graffiti” makes it all the more interesting and exciting to be a part of.
*NOTE: If you haven’t already checked out one of his pieces, you can still find the film Filter on The Pirate Bay for download.