"Trompe-l’oeil: Fictional Internet Sites"
May 10 - July 8 2001

When going on-line, how often do we visit a website and immediately say to ourselves, "seen this, know what it's about," before ever reading a word? Without hesitation, we tend to confirm our appraisal or dismiss without investigation. What is the basis for these snap judgments? To what extent do our assumptions regarding the quality and character of on-line information depend on its visual presentation? What role does the architecture of a website play in our belief in its authority and authenticity? To help convey these, corporations and institutions traditionally depend on a dynamic visual identity constructed for public consumption through logos and design. "Imitation" websites frequently appropriate this identity to protest or interfere with the function or purpose of the original. Corporations such as Exxon occasionally catch the attention of "imposters" who operate with web addresses so similar to the target's that many unsuspecting visitors are fooled. A slightly different approach taken by "emulation" websites is to produce or construct entirely new on-line identities, building on a familiar "look and feel", that convinces us of their reality and validity when they are actually fictitious.

The artists in Trompe l'oeil employ a wide range of visual deceptions to take advantage of our instant assessments, to contradict our expectations, and challenge our perceptions. In so doing, they help us reflect on the predictability of our behavior while offering an uncommon conclusion to our common experiences on-line. The following websites will be among those featured in the exhibition: Bodies INCorporated by Victoria Vesna; Anti-Capitalist Operating System by Andy Cox; Airworld by Jennifer and Kevin McCoy.

New Museum curator
Courtesy the artist and New Museum, New York