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.
Artist, Professor, Researcher
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.
She has also created new works engaging in a new approach of the character. With “Turkmenbashi, mon amour” she uses the fictional character Mouchette in a playful manner for a strong political comment on the dictatorial regime of Turkmenistan. This work was presented at
–Biennale of Montreal 2011
–City of Women Ljubljana Slovenia 2012
–Kitakyushu Biennial World Tour 2013
IN 2011 she did a residency in Tbilissi Georgia where she researched the creation of a virtual character who would be a Georgian artist: Artificial Artists of Georgia
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.
Some links of some of the websites created and maintained by Martine Neddam
Documentation sites: http://neddam.org http://neddam.info
Mouchette: http:// mouchette.org
Mouchette’s network: http://mouchette.net
Mouchette’s CV: http:// mouchette.org/cv
News about Mouchette: http://about.mouchette.org
Mouchette’s online shop: http://shop.mouchette.org
David Still: http://davidstill.org
David Still’s CV: http://davidstill.org/cv
Virtual Person: http://virtualperson.netBlog of the seminar and artistic project in Avignon: http://www.virtualperson.org/deja-vu
Showcase of the prototype for MyDesktopLife software http://mydesktoplife.org/
Latest news about MyDesktopLife http://www.mydesktoplife.org/news