No Fun with Franco and Eva Mattes

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks

From Franco & Eva Mattes, aka 0100101110101101.ORG, May 1, 2010:

Artist Commits Suicide Online as a Work of Art (well, sort of)

Thousand of people watched powerless while a person was hanging from the ceiling, slowly swinging, for hours and hours. It happened yesterday, in the popular website Chatroulette, where people from all over the world can anonymously and randomly see each other through their webcams and chat with perfect strangers.

The hanging man was in fact Brooklyn based artist Franco Mattes, and the whole scene a set up. The artist recorded all the performance and than posted it online. In the video, titled “No Fun”, one can see all possible reactions, from the most predictable to the most unthinkable: some laugh, believing it’s a joke, some seem to be completely unmoved, some insult the supposed-corpse and some, more cynical, take pictures with their phones. Apparently, out of several thousand people, only one called the police. Watching the video can be a strange experience, at times exhilarating as well as disturbing.

No Fun – Eva and Franco Mattes from Franco Mattes on Vimeo.

Eva and Franco Mattes are already known for similar interventions done under the name 0100101110101101.ORG. What they wanted to achieve with this bizarre “online performance”, as they call it, is not clear. “Since we live online” declared Franco Mattes “than we should get used to die online”.

“I’m sorry if somebody was offended” commented Eva Mattes “Actually, I too was shocked by some of the reactions. And I’m not easily impressed”.

According to New York University researcher Marco Deseriis “No Fun raises disturbing questions on the hyperreality of the contemporary mediascape as much as on the Orwellian spectacularization of daily life and death. But it would be simplistic to blame the Internet for the dramatic exhaustion of social interaction at a distance. What is more difficult to recognize is our own complicity and desire to be seduced by the latest technological wonders. In our daily obsession with media attention, frequently disguised as search for authentic communication, we end up being so narcissistically preoccupied with looking at ourselves that we can no longer recognize the other”.

After the video circulated online the comments started spreading: “This is plain wrong” comments a YouTube viewer “you don’t play with death, it may even push people most easily influenced to emulate it”.

Science fiction author Bruce Sterling said: “I think it’s nice that Franco took the trouble to so visibly hang himself, as opposed to just anonymously hanging his net-culture pseudonym of ones and zeros. This shows unusual personal warmth for a 0100101110101101.ORG project”.

The Mattes are not new to this kind of black-humor-provocations: in 1998 they invented an artist, whose works were ultra-violent splatter-like sculptures inspired by atrocity images found online. After obtaining a certain following, the inexistent artist committed suicide to become a cult-figure of the ’90s underground art as well as an allegory of media vampirism.