Mouchette.org is an interactive website created in 1996 by a virtual person, a pseudonymous character, an Amsterdam based artist who calls herself Mouchette. With her innocent salutation and claims to be “nearly thirteen” greeting us from the introduction page, what initially appears as a personal website of a pre-pubescent female artist, evolves into darker themes in the subsequent pages. The creator of the website has been a closely guarded secret. While the use of taboo subject matters are what initially provokes heated reactions, the manipulation of cyber-identity and the ability of the creator to maintain anonymity for so long are the significant reasons this website has garnered its international reputation in the internet art community.
About mouchette.org by Anik Fournier
Mouchette.org marks a pivotal transition in Neddam’s work from the
actual to the virtual realm. Created in 1996, Mouchette.org exists as
the personal, interactive website of a self-proclaimed ‘almost thirteen
year old’ artist living in Amsterdam. The work is now internationally
recognized as a key work in the history of Internet art.
Making use of the basic online tools available pre-web 2.0, such as
question and answer and multiple-choice forms, Mouchette.org incites
users to navigate the pages and interact with the seemingly innocent
girl, in order to discover her corky, sexualized and dark sides.
Mouchette’s virtual persona is roughly based on the movie by Robert
Bresson by the same name.
Since its inception in 1996, Mouchette.org has morphed and has been
exhibited in various forums internationally. Interest in the work spans
the art world, academia and internet users and fans worldwide. The
artwork is the subject of much critical discourse and heated commentary
on the construction of identity and anonymity enabled by the internet.
The recent attribution of the work to Martine Neddam has not weakened
the lure of the virtual persona. Mouchette remains in contact with
daily visitors to her site and Mouchette.org continues to emerge in
various forms in a wide-range of off and online exhibitions and events.
Mouchette.org est un site interactif créé en 1996 par un personnage virtuel, une artiste de presque 13 ans basée à Amsterdam qui se fait appeler Mouchette. Sur ce site qui ressemble à un site personnel, elle invite l’internaute à jouer avec elle et à se confier à elle en toute intimité.
À propos de mouchette.org par Anik Fournier
La création de Mouchette.org marque un tournant déterminant dans le domaine du virtuel pour Martine Neddam. Crée en 1996, Mouchette.org est le site personnel et interactive de celle qui se proclame « une artiste de presque 13 ans », vivant à Amsterdam. Cette oeuvre est à présent internationalement reconnue comme une oeuvre-clef dans l’histoire de l’art sur Internet. Crée avec les moyens du bord, et toute une série d’outils en libre accès de l’époque pionnière du web, composée de questionnaires en ligne qui incitent l’usager à exercer sa curiosité et à découvrir les pages à naviguer, le site personnel de Mouchette insolent, érotique et fait état des tendances obscures ou suicidaires du personnage. Le film de Robert Bresson « Mouchette », crée en 1967 est une des principales sources d’inspiration du personnage.
Depuis ses débuts en 1996, le site Mouchette.org a largement évolué
et a suscité l’intérêt grandissant du monde de l’art, des
universitaires, des usagers d’internet en général, et des fans du
personnage dans le monde entier. L’oeuvre a fait l’objet de discours
critiques et commentaires enflammés autour de la question de l’identité,
et de l’anonymat sur internet.
Le dévoilement (discret) de l’auteur n’a affaibli en rien l’attrait
magnétique du personnage virtuel. Mouchette reste en contact quotidien
avec ses visiteurs et les manifestations artistiques du personnage
continuent à être exposées sous des formes variées, à la fois en ligne
et matériellement, dans les institutions artistiques.
Martine Neddam is a visual artist who has been working with internet virtual characters who lead an autonomous artistic existence in which the real author remained invisible. She has been exploring anonymously the concept of online identity through virtual characters such as Mouchette, David Still, XiaoQian, and the shared interface virtualperson.net. With MyDesktopLife she continues investigating identity in a browser by developing an original visual style and an inner voice.
1975/1979 Studied litterature and linguistics in Lyon France 1983/1984 Studied stage design in the school of architecture in Lyon 1988/1989 Institut des Hautes Études en Arts Plastiques, IHEAP Paris
Martine Neddam is an artist who uses language as raw material. Since she began as an artist her favorites subjects always were ‘speech acts’, modes of address, words in the public space. Since 1988 she exposed text objects (banners, plaques, shadows on the wall) in museums and galleries. She also realized many large scale public commissions in several european countries : Netherlands, France, Great Britain.
Since 1996 she created on internet virtual characters who lead an autonomous artistic existence in which the real author is never disclosed. –Mouchette, created in 1996 whose website is still active to this day is a 13 year old girl who exposes online the fantasies born from her dark imagination, contantly triggers for user’s participation and response from her web audience. She has become such a cult figure that she decided to share her identity with her online friends in Mouchette’s Network. –David Still who was created in 2001 offers his identity and the use of his email account to all the passing websurfers. –XiaoQian, created in 2006 is a chinese artist who creates virtual persons.
These virtual characters have always functioned more as communication tools than as mere portraits. They engage in dialogue with the public, trigger their reactions, stimulate exchange between the visitors, archive these exchanges to recycle them into new works of art. They have been doing so, long before blogs and web 0.2 existed. –VirtualPerson.net is the online interface she developed in 2007 with several programmers. It allows the creation of virtual characters. She has used it in different workshops she organised (a.o) in Shanghai and Montreal and Aruba.
In recent years, Martine Neddam has given up the anonymity related to the virtual characters. Therefore she has been associating her work in the public space, her work on language and her work on internet into a seamless artistic combination. The analytic aspects linking these three fields became more apparent in her work which made it possible for her to express the theoretical aspects of her artistic activity in lectures, workshops and contextualized research as artist in residence.
In the last few years she has been restoring and maintaining the website Mouchette and its interactive functions to resist digital obsolescence. She is continuously archiving the old links and the new discussions and articles about Mouchette in a weblog: about.mouchette.org
In the show Knotenpunkten in 2007 she created new works for screens on the wall, using Mouchette’s database: To be or not to be Mouchette, part of the Anthology of European Electronic Literature since 2012
With Guerrilla FanShop (SKOR), Mouchette enters the physical space in the form of a shop selling souvenirs of the cult figure, turning a famous website into t-shirts, buttons, and bracelets, iconizing the character into sellable objects.
Since end 2013 she started to develop a new software “MyDesktopLife“, her own tool made to represent a flow of consciousness composed of different layers images, texts, sound and voices, all melted into each other in a timeline. Here are the latest news of MyDesktopLife.
Teaching and Seminars
Martine Neddam is also also teacher at the Rietveld academy in Amsterdam (where she lives since 1994). She also regularly teaches as professor in the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) in Visual and Media Arts.
Some of the courses she gives can be the opportunity to research an intellectual subject related to her own artistic practice. In spring 2008 she gave a special course in the Masters Program about virtual characters. In 2011 she gave a course in the Studium Generale in the Rietveld Academy, about Jean-Luc Godard ”Tout Va Bien, Self-Reflexivity and Cinema Verité” where she curated a series of lectures. In 2013 she gave a seminars in Ecole de Beaux-Arts d’Avignon in France, and organised an artistic project with the students around the notion of virtual characters and role-playing games: Déjà-Vu.
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