LIVE 2009

Here I am archiving a document that I created in order to apply for a grant at the FondsBKVB in 2009. The answer was ‘no’. Preservation was not an artistic issue to be considered. Ten years later, I’m still busy with preservation of my online work, and still not subsidised for it.
The application could be done orally in front of a jury but I had prepared an html document with some links, which have not been updated here.

Coming out of the closet 2009

|Virtual persons|Research|Multiple biography|Archiving|Collaborators|Budget|

After having been for several years the secret author of several virtual persons, I decided to come out: I am claiming the authorship the works of art.
To understand my own situation, I am conducting a research on authors who also had multiple identities.
Having created this separation with my characters allows me now to tell the stories of the virtual persons as seen by an insider, to reflect on the situation of the “multiple identity author” and to create a new form of autobiographical observations and commentaries based on the digital medium that I am using.
I must embrace in a consistent way the task of the maintenance and preservation as if it had to be done by someone else because one day, it will be.

MY VIRTUAL PERSONS and their websites
Mouchette (a young girl of nearly 13) has started in 1996 and she has become one the most famous website in the history of net-art. Through her I created many innovative works of art I am still working on her website daily. She is in the curriculum of several universities when new media art is studied (see Taschen book)
Her online CV gathers many links of works she has done outside of her website, and links to many important texts written about her. Her Wikipedia entry, written by a totally unknown person is an excellent analytic survey of her work. There are also several academic studies to be found online, like this one from
I hate Mouchette, her anti-fan website, a work of art made in collaboration.
Mouchette.Net is an interface that lets you use the personality of Mouchette.
In 2007 Mouchette had a show in the museum of Siegen in Germany where she hung works on the walls (online sketches: court….archgrand_soir…)
Recent online articles: PoptronicsMediamatic SereneskunkMafia RoseUniversitat Oberta de Catalunya Ethnologie Française 2008

David Still (created in 2001) allows you to use his online personality, his email, his life. He has won prizes, has created new works for several years, archived on his CV. After being kicked out by 3 different webhosts, I had to disable some communication functions.

XiaoQian is a chinese virtual character, an artist who creates virtual characters, like Mu Yuming or Shaxpir.

Halima was a virtual person in Marseille, an algerian girl who wears a headscarf. The website was forbidden by the police before it could even be created. is an interface (content management system) which I created in 2008 to let people make their own virtual character with a combination of pictures and texts. (2009, still in construction) Since my virtual characters no longer have to be made by an anonymous author, I launched this site to document all the works together, virtual characters and public commissions all made by the same author. The last public commissions made in 2001/2002 bear a strong influence of the virtual characters (Inconnus and Vergezichten). is the website where I documented my public commissions until 1999.

The “coming out” has slowly started in Spring 2008, for obvious reasons:the characters had entered the history of, the anonymity of the author was not a part of the artistic value of the work anymore, so I decided to give it up. But the situation proved much more upsetting and disorientating that I would have imagined. I felt exposed and embarrassed, as if I’d lost a protection and a freedom. To understand the situation I started a research on the phenomenon of the multiple-identity author. I have been reading many books: the works, poetry or novels, the autobiographies, biographies and theoretical studies of two literary authors: Fernando Pessoa and his heteronyms (portuguese poet of the 1930’s), Romain Gary and his double Emile Ajar, french novelist from the 50’s until the 80’s. The phenomenon is seen from the insider or outsider viewpoint in a very different. Comparing the two approaches is very inspiring.
In May and June 2008 I have been teaching a seminar in the masters’ program in visual arts at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) exclusively on the subject of virtual persons. My students created their own virtual persons. They tested my new creation and some used my interface to create their own works of art, (Helena Martine created Utopica). They also made a study and published a consistent interview about all my virtual persons (in french).
In a manifestation for participative works in Shanghai, Intrude 366, I recently (December 2008) held a workshop using interface. My new online software created by Roberto Valenti and Felix Hageloh, using Ruby on Rails (a new computer language). It is in a beta phase and I want to continue the developement of this interface, while I am using it to write my own stories.
The research runs parallel with the project and feeds it all throughout the realization. I continue reading the two authors and they are becoming the companions of my quest (Pessoa and Gary) and collaborate with researchers in the field of history of esoterism (Marco Pasi) and new media preservation, Annet Dekker.
Annet Dekker is already part of my research while she’s doing her own research (a PHD in media arts at the Goldsmith institute, London) on the subject of participation in media art. She came to Shanghai to collaborate to the workshop and to document the situation of the preservation of media arts. She interviews me and documents the archival of my work. Her input contributes greatly to my own reflection.
A part of the research is triggered by the informal conversations and stories I share on a private basis with people interested in the situation who ask questions about how it feels, or what happens in the backstage. The stories are the same but everytime but I always narrate them in a different way for each person.

The core of this project is to record my experiences with being a multiple author in a mix of storytelling and cultural analysis, and to do so using a medium that fits the subject, a digital medium, online and offline, with a combination of texts, images, interviews with relevant persons, personal memories and cultural analysis.
Facts related to the exceptional situation of an artist and the birth of the medium internet need to be recorded before I forget them. It’s a precious part of the art but an invisible part: the backstage.
Some stories

-I was submitted to police investigation in Marseille for the website Mouchette and I was forbidden to create the website Halima. I want to write about censorship, digital control, social and political action on internet.
-I received twice the same price in Dresden Germany (BodyBites) by a jury unaware that they gave it to the same author. I saw it as a triumph, they saw it as a deceit.

-Most people believed the author of Mouchette was a man (I participated in circulating the rumour) who probably had a pedophile inclination, but those who took her for a woman regarded her as a feminist.
-It was taken for granted that the author of David Still was a man, if not necessarily himself, no one imagined it could be a woman.
-Several persons sincerely fell in love with David Still, one of them even planned to flee with him to Mexico (all the love correspondance is kept on the website).
-and much more…

These stories shed a particular light on the society of its time, the birth of internet, how it was experienced in the early days in general, and in particular as an artistic medium, how it changed and how different systems of control and repression changed its nature.
Fictions and reflections: the inner life of a multiple author is a subject of an intense curiosity, people often ask me about it, they are fascinated by what I tell them and advise me to write it down and I promise I will. I hear it from personal friends, as well as from academics familiar with the subject. But I am not a literary author and I need to use and develop a form which is specific to my subject and to weave together the form and the contents.
A specific form for digital storytelling. I have created the interface to provide a tool for a specific layout for a digital narrativity, to connect texts and images in a fluid composition. So this will be my first tool. Originally meant as a participative interface, with a few minor adaptations I can get started on it, but not for long because very soon I will need to improve this tool. is still a beta-version, maybe sufficient for a first draft, but too limited (no sound, no movies etc…) and I really need to develop the form and the contents at the same time.
Besides this, I need to create a new form of digital recording of conversations and interviews. This might prove to be complex video editing with several channels, a field in which I have no experience. Recording conversations on Skype, using webcam images, editing the contents, publishing it, I want to learn how to do this, collaborate with experienced people and take the time to achieve a good result in order to be able to produce and store spoken content.

The purpose of this project is not only to record the experience of the author but also to preserve the works of art. Preservation is a crucial problem on internet, the obsolescence is incredibly fast, the scripts and the java code deteriorate with each new version of a browser, of a platform and the funny mouse-tricks are blocked, the scripts stop running, the works decay… (ex: squint)
With my internet persons, I am the museum and the museum gard, besides being the creator. I am in charge of the accessibility of the sites for the public, I run the server, and maintain the domains and the database every single day.
I know my public: Mouchette receives an average of 100 visitors a day, 50% are art students who study media art because Mouchette as a main reference for identity creation. I like my public and I do a lot of work, maintaining the site daily, keeping good access and good quality of the content. I do it with pleasure, but the work load blocks me from new creations. Some tasks are above my competency: many works need to be fixed and I need a technician for that, a real programmer.
My dream of the perfect archival is to leave the sites in somebody else’s hands as if I had disappeared. I have never done that before, and I would like to try it for a certain time. I would still monitor the maintenance and and at the same time archive that invisible part of the art: the constant contact with the public executed by a “real-life person”.
This archival is not only important for the artist and the public, but also for the scientific community. Sites like Mouchette have a historic value. Restauration and preservation of digital art is an important research topic for institutions such as Goldsmith University of London, Fondation Daniel Langlois in Montréal, Canada, and Virtueel Platform in Amsterdam, I have contacts these 3 institutions, they follow my work and would participate in the preservation and in the reflexion about it.

Roberto Valenti and Felix Hageloh They programmed with Ruby on Rails. Both PHD students in computer sciences and active in the bussiness world, they know the newest of the newest in digital technology and they can appreciate working with an artist for a relatively low price. With them, I will improve and develop
Marc Boon The computer programmer of Mouchette since the first hour. Thanks to him, Mouchette was the first artist to have a database and dynamic pages with PHP (the ancestors to our blogs) as early as 1998. Everything he has created is still working well. He knows the work of Mouchette from the early hour and can help fix the old scripts while still keeping the original feeling.
José-Nuno Pereira is a web programmer. He transcribed flash works into DVDs, and has the experience of video weblogs and the transcription of videos for an internet environement. Together we develop a practise of screen capture onto DVD (but not the editing). He is a regular help for webhost problems, running the server and the database.
2 Art theoreticians
Annet Dekker is a researcher doing her PHD in Goldsmith University on the subject of digital and participative art, and especially the preservation of it. Formerly curator at Netherlands Institute for Media Arts (NIMK, or Montevideo), she now works for Virtueel Platform where she is organising among other things an international symposium over the preservation of digital art in May 2009.
Josephine Bosma is an art theoretician specialist of early of international reputation. She is writing a book on the subject and several important articles.
Marco Pasi is an academic, professor in the history of esoterism. He wrote a book on the meeting of Fernando Pessoa and Alistair Crowley (a star in esoteric fiels in the 1930’s)


     excl.  btw 19%
Programming, restauration of Mouchette code (350x4days) Marc Boon 1400 1666
Archiving of the maintenance process with a helper (10 weeksx150 )     1500
Developement of Roberto Valenti, Felix Hageloh 3000 3570
Screen recordings, video recording, montage, online publishing, DVD publishing

José-Nuno Peirera and a video editing specialist

3000 3570
upgrading my equipement for the new tasks, external hard disk, video-editing software,   1900 2261
collaboration with researchers   1200 1428
transport, documentation, small expenses     500

The project will be developed between now and April 2010. The outcome will be:
-several websites related to (subdomains of separate domains) telling different stories
-DVD editions of conversations with video screen captures the works
– a launch event

-Applying for an international residency in Montréal, Quartier éphémère, in order to develop a part of the storytelling in french and to collaborate with their institutions for digital art (Fondation Daniel Langlois)

Martine Neddam
Van Speykstraat 91B
1057 GR Amsterdam

tel: 020 618 66 87
mob: 06 28 14 78 99

-NEW MEDIA ART by Taschen
-KNOTENPUNKE 2007 (catalogue of the museum exhibition in Germany)
-DOCUMENTS 35 oeuvres (acquisitions in the collection of Territoire de Belfort, France)
-THE UNDECIDABLE, Gaps and displacement of contemporary art, Montréal Canada

|Mouchette|online CV|Wikipedia|IhateMouchette|Mouchette.Net|a show |Siegen|
|David Still|His CV|XiaoQian||Halima||