Must I know/use Processing to use Processing JS?

I've been taking the JavaScript (Processing.js) courses at Khan Academy and, wanting to practice--create my own page and canvas--I found out I need to "create a PDE file like you normally would" and I'd never heard this before.

All I want is to be able to draw and animate like I used to in Flash (but nobody wants Flash anymore). I thought Processing.js was ... just one way of drawing on the canvas. I didn't know there was some other prerequisite like the original Processing.

Please explain to me like I'm five what I need to know to use this. Should I stop learning Processing.js and go back to learn Processing first?

submitted by jaysprout
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Problems with P3D in Eclipse?

I've recently started reading Generative Art: A Practical Guide, and I've run into some trouble trying to recreate one of the example sketches in eclipse. The book gives this code:

void setup() { size(2000, 2000, P3D); background(150); stroke(0, 50); fill(255, 200); float xstart = random(10); float ynoise = random(10); translate(width/2, height/2, 0); for (float y = -(height/8); y <= (height/8); y+=3) { ynoise += 0.02; float xnoise = xstart; for (float x = -(width/8); x <= (width/8); x+=3) { xnoise += 0.02; drawPoint(x, y, noise(xnoise, ynoise)); } } } void drawPoint(float x, float y, float noiseFactor) { pushMatrix(); translate(x * noiseFactor * 4, y * noiseFactor * 4, -y); float edgeSize = noiseFactor * 26; ellipse(0, 0, edgeSize, edgeSize); popMatrix(); } 

But I've had to modify it because I'm using Eclipse instead of PDE, here's my code:

import processing.core.*; public class Main extends PApplet{ public static void main(String args[]) { PApplet.main(new String[] { "--present", "Main" }); } public void settings() { size(500, 500,P3D); } public void setup() { background(150); stroke(0, 50); fill(255, 200); float xstart = random(10); float ynoise = random(10); translate(width/2, height/2, 0); for (float y = -(height/8); y <= (height/8); y+=3) { ynoise += 0.02; float xnoise = xstart; for (float x = -(width/8); x <= (width/8); x+=3) { xnoise += 0.02; drawPoint(x, y, noise(xnoise, ynoise)); } } } public void drawPoint(float x, float y, float noiseFactor) { pushMatrix(); translate(x * noiseFactor * 4, y * noiseFactor * 4, -y); float edgeSize = noiseFactor * 26; ellipse(0, 0, edgeSize, edgeSize); popMatrix(); } } 

When run I get this error message:

java.lang.NoClassDefFoundError: com/jogamp/opengl/GLException at processing.opengl.PGraphicsOpenGL.createPGL(PGraphicsOpenGL.java:2090) at processing.opengl.PGraphicsOpenGL.<init>(PGraphicsOpenGL.java:550) at processing.opengl.PGraphics3D.<init>(PGraphics3D.java:33) at sun.reflect.NativeConstructorAccessorImpl.newInstance0(Native Method) at sun.reflect.NativeConstructorAccessorImpl.newInstance(Unknown Source) at sun.reflect.DelegatingConstructorAccessorImpl.newInstance(Unknown Source) at java.lang.reflect.Constructor.newInstance(Unknown Source) at processing.core.PApplet.makeGraphics(PApplet.java:2215) at processing.core.PApplet.createPrimaryGraphics(PApplet.java:2289) at processing.core.PApplet.initSurface(PApplet.java:10268) at processing.core.PApplet.runSketch(PApplet.java:10207) at processing.core.PApplet.main(PApplet.java:9969) at Main.main(Main.java:7) Caused by: java.lang.ClassNotFoundException: com.jogamp.opengl.GLException at java.net.URLClassLoader.findClass(Unknown Source) at java.lang.ClassLoader.loadClass(Unknown Source) at sun.misc.Launcher$AppClassLoader.loadClass(Unknown Source) at java.lang.ClassLoader.loadClass(Unknown Source) ... 13 more Exception in thread "main" java.lang.RuntimeException: com/jogamp/opengl/GLException at processing.core.PApplet.makeGraphics(PApplet.java:2245) at processing.core.PApplet.createPrimaryGraphics(PApplet.java:2289) at processing.core.PApplet.initSurface(PApplet.java:10268) at processing.core.PApplet.runSketch(PApplet.java:10207) at processing.core.PApplet.main(PApplet.java:9969) at Main.main(Main.java:7) 

After fiddling around looking for the issue I found that if I remove the P3D argument from size function the sketch will run, but obviously the sketch doesn't resemble how its supposed to actually look since it's lacking its third dimension.

Has anyone run into anything similar before? Does the P3D renderer just not work in Eclipse? What can I do to get this working? Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Edit: Formatting is hard

submitted by Hopenager
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SAMIZDATA: Evidence of Conspiracy. Talking secrets and pandas with Jacob Appelbaum

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Jacob Appelbaum, Julian Assange, (Undisclosed location near Bail Mansion outside of London), 2012

Next week, NOME, one of those too rare galleries exploring art, politics, and technology, is going to open Jacob Appelbaum's first solo show in Germany. Titled SAMIZDATA: Evidence of Conspiracy, the show was curated by Tatiana Bazzichelli and accompanies the symposium SAMIZDATA: Tactics and Strategies for Resistance which will explore alternatives into the development of shared forms of post-digital resistance.

Jacob Appelbaum is an independent journalist, a hacker and a Wikileaks collaborator who helped develop the anonymous web browser Tor. He is also a U.S. citizen who has been living in exile in Berlin, due to an ongoing investigation into his involvement with Wikileaks and to repeated harassment at immigration. His situation offers a striking contrast with Ai Weiwei's, a Chinese artist who has long been prevented from leaving his own country (although a few weeks ago, he was finally given his passport back and moved to Germany as well.)

Earlier this year, Weiwei and Appelbaum were invited to work together as part of Seven On Seven, Rhizome's series of artists-meets-technologists events. The two of them met at Ai Weiwei's house in Beijing and their collaboration was filmed by Laura Poitras, the director of the award winning documentary Citizenfour and another artist who has been living under the gaze of State surveillance.

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Still by Praxis Films

The video that documents their collaboration shows the artists working inside Ai's studio, emptying the stuffing from toy pandas and replacing it with shredded N.S.A. documents released in 2013 by whistle-blower Edward Snowden. The work is called Panda to Panda, a reference to peer-to-peer communication but also an allusion to the Chinese secret police whose unofficial symbol is the panda. Sewn inside the stuffed toys are also micro SD memory cards that contain a digital archive of the intelligence documents.

The pandas were then sent to free-speech activists around the world and to museums, as a kind of distributed backup.


The Art of Dissent: Ai Weiwei and Jacob Appelbaum. Laura Poitras documents the dissidents Ai Weiwei and Jacob Appelbaum as they collaborate on an art project

Appelbaum will also be premiering at NOME a series of six colored infrared photos shown as cibachrome prints. Each of them celebrates a political dissident whose brave work has made them the targets of oppressive governments.

The portraits show William Binney, a former high official with the NSA who resigned in 2001 and has since spoken out against the NSA's data collection policies. Glenn Greenwald, a journalist, constitutional lawyer, and author whose recent book, No Place to Hide, is about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents. Sarah Harrison, a British journalist, legal researcher, and WikiLeaks editor. She accompanied Edward Snowden on his flight from Hong Kong to Moscow while he was sought by the U.S. government. The other portraits show Laura Poitras, Ai Weiwei and Julian Assange.

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Jacob Appelbaum, Ai Weiwei (Bejing), 2015.

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Jacob Appelbaum, Laura Poitras (Berlin), 2013.

The fantastic people at NOME (thanks Tabea!) put me in touch with Jacob Appelbaum and we discussed over the phone about the exhibition, his experience of surveillance and the world of secrecy. Unsurprisingly, the conversation took place under the shelter of an encrypted calling app:

Hi Jacob! You are a U.S. citizens in exile and you are now living in Berlin. Do you find that an individual's right to privacy is less under attack in Germany than it is in your own country? And do you think that this situation is likely to change and that Europe shows signs of becoming more and more open to surveillance and control of citizens?

Surveillance is a French word so it's not as if surveillance came from the United States to Europe. Surveillance has been here for a long time. The first big data project of Europe was the holocaust, as documented in the book IBM and the Holocaust by Edwin Black. I think that it looks like at the moment there is a scary and worrying trend in Europe of moving towards the right wing with Le Pen and other groups across Europe and with that often comes a consolidation of State power and surveillance. It is very scary because if groups like the Golden Dawn, Le Pen, people who are in charge in Hungary at the moment and extreme right groups here in Germany, have control over these surveillance apparatuses, it will be very bad. I think it's very bad already but it will just get worse. In particular with the Golden Dawn.

The political and cultural situation in Europe is not like the weather. It's not just something that you observe. It's not just something that happens. Rather it is something that we let happen and that we create by taking an active role in. I think that we are in fact changing this dialogue a great deal. It's not just me and Laura and Glenn. It's hundreds of thousands of people across Europe who really care about improving the LIBE committee in the European Parliament, the European Court of Human Rights, the Court of Luxembourg, etc. You can see that there are a lot of people who remember how surveillance has been used for in the 20th century and who understand that surveillance is not always used to prevent crime but in some cases is used to commit crimes. This is something that people in Europe understand and i think that the situation is changing precisely because this understanding is working its way into the common understanding and into the cultural discussion. But it's not like the weather, it's not changing on its own.

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Jacob Appelbaum, Glenn Greenwald & David Miranda (São Paulo), 2012.

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Jacob Appelbaum, Sarah Harrison (Berlin), 2015.

I'd be interested to know about your choice of making portraits in cibachrome prints. Why did you use this photographic process?

I've been living under surveillance in some way or another for about 13 years. Maybe more. And in different capacities. In the last 5 years it has become very intense. The reason i mention this is because when you shoot with a digital camera and you plug in to a computer that's on the internet, when you share photos on the internet, that's it! They are no longer your photos. I'm sure that all the photos that i ever posted on the internet, on flickr for example, are sitting in an FBI database and i'm sure that they've been used to harm people and to harass my friends and people i work with. So i don't really post photos on the internet anymore and as a result i started to work with slide film very heavily. I also started to keep my files offline and if i scan them, i keep them scanned on machines that are not connected to the internet and only for archival purposes. I felt that it made a lot of sense not to go to a professional printing studio and print digital photos of these slides but to actually do the entire process offline as much as possible. Cibachrome is the most analog process and it allows me to go low tech and that was very important for me. Cibachrome felt like the natural thing because it fits with the whole reason i was shooting slide films in the first place which was to regain my autonomy from surveillance.

The people your work portrays are involved in uncovering surveillance. I read some of the names in the list of captions for the photos of the show: Sarah Harrison, Laura Poitras, and William Binney. Who are the others and can you briefly tell you why you chose them?

The other people are Ai Weiwei who needs no introduction. David Miranda is in the photograph with Glenn Greenwald. He is the partner of Glenn Greenwald but also works with him around the Snowden affair. There's Sarah Harrison, the woman who helped Snowden to seek and receive asylum, basically to escape from Hong Kong. Then there is Julian Assange, William Binney and then Laura Poitras.

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Jacob Appelbaum and Ai Weiwei, P2P (Panda-to-Panda) (Bejing), 2015

Apologies for the silly question but why did you decide to shred the information rather than stuff the pandas of the work Panda 2 Panda with whole pages randomly distributed?

Two reasons. The main reason is that i felt that it represented the way that people actually see the information anyway. Ideological information, economic information or the information that spies craft doesn't make sense to a lot of people. It's a specialized language. These shredded documents are the support structure of the actual body itself. But we also added a very small micro SD card inside the pandas. It actually contains the documents and then some. Which means that every single panda is the medium and the message in itself and it can be transported. We smuggled 20 of these pandas out of China and took them all over the world. That means that even if you took the whole internet down, even if you got rid of every website and of every member of the press, you'd have to actually also go and track down these 20 pandas. In addition to a lot of other things. The goal was then to have a piece of art in a museum that is full of this kind data and to make it so that the secret services wanting to erase it would have to go into the museum and destroy the pandas. Which places them very firmly in the aesthetic camp of being on the wrong side of history. In a sense, it's like asking them "Come on! Get us! We dare you!"

How will Panda 2 Panda be exhibited exactly at NOME? With some of the pandas, the Poitras video and some information? What will the installation of the piece look like?

There won't be any video. But instead we will have these 6 very large prints, nicely framed, mounted on aluminum and shadow boxes. We will also have the panda and the bag that it came in which is a beautiful Ai Weiwei bag which says ''Cǎonímǎ'' which is this Grass Mud Horse (the word for internet censorship in China.) Weiwei and i signed this bag and it's the transport for the panda. The panda is filled with documents that have been made public in the press.

But I decided that it wasn't good enough. I wanted to create a final piece for the show that takes this project beyond what is public. For many years i've worked as a journalist shredding documents, either because we take journalistic notes about a source or we print out a document that we believe we wouldn't legally be able to release without the risk of being arrested or something like this because it contains agent names, for example. And i have garbage bags full of these shredded documents. I just can't throw them out. So i decided that that was going to be like the paint of a new picture. I collaborated with 3 other artists to make a hundred little necklaces. These necklaces are vials, like little test tubes, and inside of it are shredded unreleased documents. So a hundred people will be able to carry around the equivalent of the panda, except that it's documents that have never been released. It reaches a totally different audience of people and in some ways it feels more risky but also less risky because it's shredded documents. The piece is called Schuld, Scham und Angst which means Guilt, Shame and Fear in english. The reason behind that name is that i and all of the journalists who shredded documents and didn't release every single one of them, we became in a sense collaborators with the secret state. And i'm distressed with myself for having to do that. The only time that it is ever appropriate to do that is for source protection reason.

Do you find that you and Ai Weiwei have a different approach to issues such as surveillance, secrecy and censorship? And how you express your opposition to them?

Yes, i do think that we are very different. We have complementary approaches. One is a coping mechanism. The other is a resistance strategy.

Weiwei is trying to document his whole life, to make himself as public as possible which in a sense raises his profile. Everyone talking about surveillance either vanishes or adopts this approach. Both Weiwei and i are both taking this approach to a degree.

I am also trying to raise the consciousness about this issue, to make sure that no one is victimized like this ever again. It's not just about me. I think Weiwei also wants that to happen but it not clear to me --even with a work like Panda 2 Panda-- that we change the fundamental structure of that kind of oppressive surveillance. But Weiwei is under much more oppressive surveillance than i am these days.

The work that i've done under the last 10 years is to make it hard for the people to monitor anyone who would be targeted for surveillance, whether they are legitimate so-called 'targets' or otherwise. But i also want to raise the consciousness about it and to raise the culture of discussion so that people start to ask 'wait a minute! what does it mean to be a legitimate target?" I want to actually try and empower every person, not just special people, to free them from that kind of oppressive dynamic which in itself is a punishment and is often done in total secrecy. It happens in such a way that it corrodes life itself for people. So i want to fuck that up as much as possible.

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Jacob Appelbaum, William Binney (Berlin), 2014.

Do you think we should all assume that we are under surveillance?

No, i think we should all live with the assumption that we have the right to resist. It is our duty, in fact. We don't have to live with the assumption that we are under surveillance. And in fact, when we do it then that tells us that we should take action.

Thanks Jacob!

Jacob Appelbaum -- SAMIZDATA: Evidence of Conspiracy, an exhibition curated by Tatiana Bazzichelli, opens on 10th September, 6pm and closes on 31th October 2015 at the NOME Gallery in Berlin. The event is organized in parallel with SAMIZDATA: Tactics and Strategies for Resistance which gathers hackers, artists and critical thinkers exploring possible alternatives into the development of shared forms of post-digital resistance. will take place on 11 and 12 September at Kunstquartier Bethanien in Berlin.

A black market for people “consumed by the internet”

Interview responses translated from Japanese by Love Kindstrand.

"Welcome to [...] the Internet's next wave," Sue Halpern wrote in 2014, "the Internet of Things"—a harbinger of our gradual transition into "one of the things connected to and through the Internet." 

Yet, despite its sizeable implications for politics, capital, and consumers, the internet of things has not affected web-based art practices to the same degree. In fact, more and more contemporary internet artists are expressing interest in a somewhat opposing phenomenon, a trend that flips the logic of the Internet of Things on its head. From Paul Soulellis's Library of the Printed Web to Michael Mandiberg's Print Wikipedia, artists working on the internet and digital technologies seem less absorbed by the link between physical bodies and virtual networks than by the physical bodies of these networks—that is, by the matter of the web. As a result, what net art usually offers up is not so much the Internet of Things as the things of the internet.

The Internet Yami-Ichi is one gripping example of recent artistic experimentations with the materiality of the web. Created by the Japanese artist collectives IDPW (pronounced "i-pass") and Exonemo, the Yami-Ichi is a real-life counter-market for internet-related goods. Somewhere between "flea" and "black," the Yami-Ichi is at once both and neither: "In Japanese," Exonemo tells me, "the word 'yami' in 'yami-ichi' (black market) carries connotations not only of darkness, but also of 'sickness' and 'addiction,' in the sense of being too attached to something. More than just a market, we imagined the Yami-Ichi as a place where people consumed by the internet could come together."

The project's first installation was held in Tokyo on November 4, 2012 and attracted over 500 people interested in selling, buying, and trading truly unique internet objects. Since then, the Yami-Ichi has attracted much international attention, travelling to Berlin, Taichung, Seoul, Linz, Brussels, and Amsterdam. In the interview that follows, I ask Exonemo about the politics of their project, touching on the history of online consumer capitalism, Silk Road, the corporatization of Web 2.0, digital labor, and the meaning of liberty on the internet.

Tomoya Watanabe (aka Tomorrow Shark) in Back streets of the Internet (2013) produced by W+K 東京LAB.

LP: Right now I'm at the Rhizome office in the New Museum, less than a mile away from the federal courthouse on Pearl Street where the founder of Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, was sentenced to life in prison on May 29, 2015. In a letter to Judge Katherine B. Forrest right before his sentencing, Ulbricht said he created Silk Road because he believed "people should have the right to buy and sell whatever they wanted so long as they weren't hurting anyone else." While you explicitly prohibit the exchange of dangerous and illegal goods, you also seem to frame the Internet Yami-Ichi as a project to "liberate" the web by promoting the freedoms of internet users in the form of consumers, producers, and merchants. Were you and Ulbricht responding to a similar problem, namely the lack of liberty on the internet, but in different ways? While Ulbricht's libertarian solution focused on individual liberties as market freedoms, your answer seems to be grounded in the idea of communal liberty as human interaction.

e: With Silk Road, you see one attempt to reclaim the liberty once inherent to the internet that has since been lost, by creating an unregulated space within the internet itself. In contrast, the Internet Yami-Ichi is a proposal to withdraw from the internet "for the time being." The Yami-Ichi takes "internet addiction" as one of its themes, specifically by enacting a collectivity of selves still very much enraptured by the internet, gathering in real life to show each other the many internets we've all imagined/conjured up. Rather than creating "a space for free exchange," what we imagined is what I'd call "a flock of grotesque creatures emerging from the internet, giggling at the sight of themselves interacting in the same grotesque manner in real life"—and as such it felt like an entirely new perspective.

At the first event in Tokyo, we mostly invited people from our respective communities, so there was a strong atmosphere of people sharing the same sense of reality coming together. But when we gathered for the third time in Berlin the concept just took shape in a way that convinced us that people all over the world share a similar awareness: while no doubt people felt differently in various places, the sense of the internet as "something new" shared almost simultaneously across the world is fascinating.

LP: From its inception, the internet has been intimately connected with the development of postindustrial capitalism (and vice-versa). E-commerce websites like eBay and Amazon have been leading internet marketplaces since 1995, the same year Craig Newmark started Craigslist as an email newsletter for promoting events around the Bay Area. By 1999, the Argentinean MercadoLibre had appropriated the concept of a "free" online market as the website's brand name. More recently, Etsy and DaWanda have combined the personalized and user-generated aspects of social media websites into their corporate interfaces, allowing users to create their own online stores and sell "unique," often handmade commodities. What would you say is the place of the Yami-Ichi in the history of online market capitalism? 

e: The biggest difference between eBay, Etsy and the other e-commerce sites you mention on one hand, and the Yami-Ichi on the other, is that the former seize on the convenience of the web in order to provide the most accessible service, while the Yami-Ichi does the complete opposite. The things that appear for sale at the Yami-Ichi are preliminary responses to our question of what constitutes an "internet-like" thing, but it's not as if the people selling them do so normally or try to make a livelihood out of doing so. The people who buy them, in turn, earn their own answers to the question of what an "internet-like" thing would actually mean, or perhaps they come with that in mind. In other words, the action of buying and selling in the Yami-Ichi is less an economic one, and rather entails a kind of media research that parodies the action of economic exchange. In an age where getting by without accessing the internet is becoming difficult or impossible, the nature or meaning of that thing we call "the internet" is seldom questioned. The Yami-Ichi constitutes a kind of meditation on that condition, with the actual act of exchange being more of an auxiliary thing, serving to reinforce that reality. Of course, this is nothing more than my personal thoughts on the matter, and presumably other people participate with different conceptions of what they are doing and why.

Poster for the Yami-Ichi in Amsterdam earlier this year

LP: Are market freedoms, as in the liberties afforded to consumers in a capitalist economy, an important aspect of being free in general, especially as this idea is conceived on the internet today? 

e: One reason for running the Yami-Ichi in Japan—and it might not be much different from other places in this regard—was as a challenge to the commonplace notion that "one does not pay for internet things." It wasn't long ago that you could find anything for free on the net, and online commerce suffered as a result. Recently things are changing somewhat, particularly due to increasingly aggressive strategies by major corporations, but there is a certain irony to paying actual money for things derived from internet culture at the Yami-Ichi that remains interesting. Few people in Japan, for example, will give money to a homeless person—even street musicians have a hard time. In light of this tendency to "only pay for what benefits" you directly, paying money for non-beneficiary, even useless things at the Yami-Ichi starts to appear as a critical act. At the Berlin event, some participants noticed that people were reluctant to get their wallets out, and in this way there are cultural connotations to simple acts of buying and selling. I'm really curious to see what happens when we open in New York City, where tipping for services and so on suggests an entirely different culture of money exchange. 

LP: Despite their dependence on the free digital labor of their users, corporate social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, brand themselves as service providers and social utility platforms. While this may very well be true, their self-understanding as service suppliers elides, quite deliberately of course, the identity of their users as producers of internet content, that is, as workers rather than customers. By allowing internet users to sell their online content as real products, by providing them the opportunity to be remunerated for their digital labor, do you think the Internet Yami-Ichi works to redress the injustices of free digital labor on the internet?

e: If you ask the participants selling things at the Yami-Ichi, they'll tell you how differently people communicate here compared to the exhibitions where they usually show their ideas and creations. Sell or no sell, the creator is immediately confronted with the question of how much their idea is worth, and the customer's response is immediate. With art, there is a certain anxiety in discussing the merits or demerits of a specific work in the conversation between artist and audience. At the Yami-Ichi, it is possible to talk about this in terms of an objective standard: is this worth five bucks or not? For the seller, it seems it's become an appreciated opportunity for casually questioning their own work.

LP: For the first Internet Yami-Ichi, you stipulated only one criteria for sellers: "to sell things that have something to do with the Internet." As a result a diverse mix of unique internet-based objects were on display, including the hand-crafted (and live recorded) ringtone, the "Real-World Re-Tweet," the "Spacer .gif," and a host of other fascinating historical and contemporary fragments of "web matter." While the majority of items on sale appeared to be born-digital goods or services morphed into a real-world format, one of the participants, Tomoya Watanabe (aka Tomorrow Shark), did the precise opposite of this. Watanabe sold real-life stones accompanied by a CD-ROM with their 3D scan data. In doing this, he took an organic object, digitized it, and sold both versions, the physical stone and its digitally-rendered image. So, in a way, the Yami-Ichi offers users not only the possibility to bring things from the web into the physical world, but also the prospect of adding real-life objects to the internet, "filling the internet with things that exist in the real world," as he put it. 

e: The novelty of Tomorrow Shark's "stone" lies, as you explain, not in the idea of bringing a thing from the internet into real space, but in tying a material object to its three-dimensional data, a presence that connects net and physical realities. There is something romantic in the encounter between the novel, still unstable entity that is "the internet," and the ordinary rock, present anywhere and everywhere as a symbol of universality. The fantasy of that same rock selling out simultaneously in every corner of the world is perhaps equally romantic...

 

* * *

LP: How did IDPW and the Internet Yami-Ichi come about?

e: After the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster that occurred in Japan in 2011, the two of us in Exonemo left Tokyo for Fukuoka in Western Japan. Around that time, a lot of people were leaving the city for the countryside, or even going overseas. In Fukuoka, we rented a warehouse with the intent of starting something new. That's where the IDPW collective came together, as a way to gather all the fellow artists scattered across Japan in an extension of Exonemo's focus on "experiments that connect internet and reality."

The idea was to have the internet "descend" into reality around that actual space (genba), and around that concept we started, in different places and shapes, online and offline, irregularly and experimentally—and with a fair amount of stupidity—to organize the parties where the Internet Yami-Ichi first took shape.

LP: What were some of the most influential referents for the Yami-Ichi?

e: The primary referent for this kind of flea market event is Tokyo's Comic Market (or Comike). Since 1975 it has grown from a small subcultural gathering to an annual gathering of 500,000 enthusiasts. Beyond manga and anime-related works, you'll encounter countless items and ideas for sale that don't quite fit any category: a map of vending machines in Akihabara; homemade recipes; a bot that plays through pornographic computer games, and so on. It's stuff that's obviously useless for most people, and yet there is the provocation of coming face to face with that kind of pure creativity. In 2005, this inspired another community of enthusiasts called Dorkbot Tokyo, organized around "people doing strange things with electricity," who put together a flea market-style event that attracted serious attention. The combination of all these things eventually led to the Internet Yami-Ichi events.

LP: Given how the idea for the Yami-Ichi was born out of Apple's rejection of your proposed iPhone app, was your initial idea to host a web-based, as opposed to a physical, marketplace? Or, was the app meant to be a digital platform for organizing people only and then trade objects IRL?

e: Once we realized we couldn't sell on the App Store the silly idea of selling apps by connecting people's phones to our development PC came to mind—the ridiculousness of it fascinated us, I guess. So for the Yami-Ichi we didn't think about online sales at all. At the first two events we didn't even have wifi! Yet in that space entirely cut off from the internet, we were enveloped by an "internet-like" atmosphere—in turn prompting the question of whether this thing we call "the internet" has anything to do with being connected to the internet at all.

In the beginning, we knew we wanted to bring the internet into the flea market, but still couldn't imagine what kind of space would emerge from that encounter. That's when we came up with the idea of taking the app, that had already been rejected by Apple, and selling it by connecting a cable directly to people's phones. This lead to the realization that "perhaps the current internet is less free than the real world."

The early days of the internet were characterized by an understanding of its possibilities as that of a space completely separated from physical reality. More recently, the internet has become more convenient to use even as it falls under the control of global corporations, and as its use becomes more universal it has become a matter of public concern. With increasing privacy concerns we've come to feel the limits of online practice. Now, with the spread of smartphones the internet is no longer distinguishable from reality, the very distinction disappearing bit by bit as the problematics of online life encroach on reality itself. The present condition challenges us to take a step back from the internet, reappraise the way it has affected our sense of values and provided new concepts, and from there, consider the way we want technological innovation to proceed.

LP: In light of your project's success, do you think you'll submit a new proposal for an iPhone app to Apple in the future?

e: I don't know about the App Store—as an embryo of the idea that became the Internet Yami-Ichi, our rejected app has already made itself useful. We'll continue to release different apps and other works as exonemo in the future.

Fabien Mousse, Real Internet Art (2013)

LP: What is the most popular currency of exchange at the Yami-Ichi? Do people use bitcoins, instagram followers, tumblr accounts, gifs, image macros, etc. to buy/trade goods, or is mostly cash?

e: It's been mostly cash so far; people write price tags for "1 euro" or "1 bitcoin" as a joke, and it seems like participants trade their goods. In the US, there are plenty of convenient options for payment like Paypal, Square and Venmo, so that might change.

LP: What are your plans for the future of the Yami-Ichi?

e: This summer, we've held events in Taichung (Taiwan), Seoul, Linz (Austria), and will be in New York City on September 12; towards the end of the year, we're thinking of Scotland, São Paulo, and London as well as Indonesia and Mexico. Early on, IDPW was involved in organizing all events, but since the one held in Amsterdam last May we've pulled back a little bit, moving towards an open platform through which anyone can participate.

The question is how the internet, as a phenomenon unfolding in the present on a global scale, is acted upon differently in different parts of the world. There's a lot of work organizing these Yami-Ichi markets across the world, but for the moment it feels like a meaningful activity that I want to continue in the future.

The very notion of "the internet" will keep changing, now and in the future, as will the idea of what's considered "internet-like" or not. We're still at a point where drawing a line between "reality" and "the internet" allows us to understand something, but the line separating these two domains is disappearing. Soon, the Internet Yami-Ichi might look no different from an ordinary flea market! The Yami-Ichi event itself, I hope, already functions as a kind of barometer with which to gauge and comprehend our changing times.

 

The Internet Yami-Ichi is coming to New York on Saturday, September 12, 12pm-8pm at Knockdown Center, Queens (website / Facebook event).

Interview responses translated from Japanese by Love Kindstrand. Kindstrand is a doctoral student in anthropology at the University of Chicago, interested in intersections of anonymity and subjectivity in internet culture.

A black market for people “consumed by the internet”

Interview responses translated from Japanese by Love Kindstrand.

"Welcome to [...] the Internet's next wave," Sue Halpern wrote in 2014, "the Internet of Things"—a harbinger of our gradual transition into "one of the things connected to and through the Internet." 

Yet, despite its sizeable implications for politics, capital, and consumers, the internet of things has not affected web-based art practices to the same degree. In fact, more and more contemporary internet artists are expressing interest in a somewhat opposing phenomenon, a trend that flips the logic of the Internet of Things on its head. From Paul Soulellis's Library of the Printed Web to Michael Mandiberg's Print Wikipedia, artists working on the internet and digital technologies seem less absorbed by the link between physical bodies and virtual networks than by the physical bodies of these networks—that is, by the matter of the web. As a result, what net art usually offers up is not so much the Internet of Things as the things of the internet.

The Internet Yami-Ichi is one gripping example of recent artistic experimentations with the materiality of the web. Created by the Japanese artist collectives IDPW (pronounced "i-pass") and Exonemo, the Yami-Ichi is a real-life counter-market for internet-related goods. Somewhere between "flea" and "black," the Yami-Ichi is at once both and neither: "In Japanese," Exonemo tells me, "the word 'yami' in 'yami-ichi' (black market) carries connotations not only of darkness, but also of 'sickness' and 'addiction,' in the sense of being too attached to something. More than just a market, we imagined the Yami-Ichi as a place where people consumed by the internet could come together."

The project's first installation was held in Tokyo on November 4, 2012 and attracted over 500 people interested in selling, buying, and trading truly unique internet objects. Since then, the Yami-Ichi has attracted much international attention, travelling to Berlin, Taichung, Seoul, Linz, Brussels, and Amsterdam. In the interview that follows, I ask Exonemo about the politics of their project, touching on the history of online consumer capitalism, Silk Road, the corporatization of Web 2.0, digital labor, and the meaning of liberty on the internet.

Tomoya Watanabe (aka Tomorrow Shark) in Back streets of the Internet (2013) produced by W+K 東京LAB.

LP: Right now I'm at the Rhizome office in the New Museum, less than a mile away from the federal courthouse on Pearl Street where the founder of Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, was sentenced to life in prison on May 29, 2015. In a letter to Judge Katherine B. Forrest right before his sentencing, Ulbricht said he created Silk Road because he believed "people should have the right to buy and sell whatever they wanted so long as they weren't hurting anyone else." While you explicitly prohibit the exchange of dangerous and illegal goods, you also seem to frame the Internet Yami-Ichi as a project to "liberate" the web by promoting the freedoms of internet users in the form of consumers, producers, and merchants. Were you and Ulbricht responding to a similar problem, namely the lack of liberty on the internet, but in different ways? While Ulbricht's libertarian solution focused on individual liberties as market freedoms, your answer seems to be grounded in the idea of communal liberty as human interaction.

e: With Silk Road, you see one attempt to reclaim the liberty once inherent to the internet that has since been lost, by creating an unregulated space within the internet itself. In contrast, the Internet Yami-Ichi is a proposal to withdraw from the internet "for the time being." The Yami-Ichi takes "internet addiction" as one of its themes, specifically by enacting a collectivity of selves still very much enraptured by the internet, gathering in real life to show each other the many internets we've all imagined/conjured up. Rather than creating "a space for free exchange," what we imagined is what I'd call "a flock of grotesque creatures emerging from the internet, giggling at the sight of themselves interacting in the same grotesque manner in real life"—and as such it felt like an entirely new perspective.

At the first event in Tokyo, we mostly invited people from our respective communities, so there was a strong atmosphere of people sharing the same sense of reality coming together. But when we gathered for the third time in Berlin the concept just took shape in a way that convinced us that people all over the world share a similar awareness: while no doubt people felt differently in various places, the sense of the internet as "something new" shared almost simultaneously across the world is fascinating.

LP: From its inception, the internet has been intimately connected with the development of postindustrial capitalism (and vice-versa). E-commerce websites like eBay and Amazon have been leading internet marketplaces since 1995, the same year Craig Newmark started Craigslist as an email newsletter for promoting events around the Bay Area. By 1999, the Argentinean MercadoLibre had appropriated the concept of a "free" online market as the website's brand name. More recently, Etsy and DaWanda have combined the personalized and user-generated aspects of social media websites into their corporate interfaces, allowing users to create their own online stores and sell "unique," often handmade commodities. What would you say is the place of the Yami-Ichi in the history of online market capitalism? 

e: The biggest difference between eBay, Etsy and the other e-commerce sites you mention on one hand, and the Yami-Ichi on the other, is that the former seize on the convenience of the web in order to provide the most accessible service, while the Yami-Ichi does the complete opposite. The things that appear for sale at the Yami-Ichi are preliminary responses to our question of what constitutes an "internet-like" thing, but it's not as if the people selling them do so normally or try to make a livelihood out of doing so. The people who buy them, in turn, earn their own answers to the question of what an "internet-like" thing would actually mean, or perhaps they come with that in mind. In other words, the action of buying and selling in the Yami-Ichi is less an economic one, and rather entails a kind of media research that parodies the action of economic exchange. In an age where getting by without accessing the internet is becoming difficult or impossible, the nature or meaning of that thing we call "the internet" is seldom questioned. The Yami-Ichi constitutes a kind of meditation on that condition, with the actual act of exchange being more of an auxiliary thing, serving to reinforce that reality. Of course, this is nothing more than my personal thoughts on the matter, and presumably other people participate with different conceptions of what they are doing and why.

Poster for the Yami-Ichi in Amsterdam earlier this year

LP: Are market freedoms, as in the liberties afforded to consumers in a capitalist economy, an important aspect of being free in general, especially as this idea is conceived on the internet today? 

e: One reason for running the Yami-Ichi in Japan—and it might not be much different from other places in this regard—was as a challenge to the commonplace notion that "one does not pay for internet things." It wasn't long ago that you could find anything for free on the net, and online commerce suffered as a result. Recently things are changing somewhat, particularly due to increasingly aggressive strategies by major corporations, but there is a certain irony to paying actual money for things derived from internet culture at the Yami-Ichi that remains interesting. Few people in Japan, for example, will give money to a homeless person—even street musicians have a hard time. In light of this tendency to "only pay for what benefits" you directly, paying money for non-beneficiary, even useless things at the Yami-Ichi starts to appear as a critical act. At the Berlin event, some participants noticed that people were reluctant to get their wallets out, and in this way there are cultural connotations to simple acts of buying and selling. I'm really curious to see what happens when we open in New York City, where tipping for services and so on suggests an entirely different culture of money exchange. 

LP: Despite their dependence on the free digital labor of their users, corporate social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, brand themselves as service providers and social utility platforms. While this may very well be true, their self-understanding as service suppliers elides, quite deliberately of course, the identity of their users as producers of internet content, that is, as workers rather than customers. By allowing internet users to sell their online content as real products, by providing them the opportunity to be remunerated for their digital labor, do you think the Internet Yami-Ichi works to redress the injustices of free digital labor on the internet?

e: If you ask the participants selling things at the Yami-Ichi, they'll tell you how differently people communicate here compared to the exhibitions where they usually show their ideas and creations. Sell or no sell, the creator is immediately confronted with the question of how much their idea is worth, and the customer's response is immediate. With art, there is a certain anxiety in discussing the merits or demerits of a specific work in the conversation between artist and audience. At the Yami-Ichi, it is possible to talk about this in terms of an objective standard: is this worth five bucks or not? For the seller, it seems it's become an appreciated opportunity for casually questioning their own work.

LP: For the first Internet Yami-Ichi, you stipulated only one criteria for sellers: "to sell things that have something to do with the Internet." As a result a diverse mix of unique internet-based objects were on display, including the hand-crafted (and live recorded) ringtone, the "Real-World Re-Tweet," the "Spacer .gif," and a host of other fascinating historical and contemporary fragments of "web matter." While the majority of items on sale appeared to be born-digital goods or services morphed into a real-world format, one of the participants, Tomoya Watanabe (aka Tomorrow Shark), did the precise opposite of this. Watanabe sold real-life stones accompanied by a CD-ROM with their 3D scan data. In doing this, he took an organic object, digitized it, and sold both versions, the physical stone and its digitally-rendered image. So, in a way, the Yami-Ichi offers users not only the possibility to bring things from the web into the physical world, but also the prospect of adding real-life objects to the internet, "filling the internet with things that exist in the real world," as he put it. 

e: The novelty of Tomorrow Shark's "stone" lies, as you explain, not in the idea of bringing a thing from the internet into real space, but in tying a material object to its three-dimensional data, a presence that connects net and physical realities. There is something romantic in the encounter between the novel, still unstable entity that is "the internet," and the ordinary rock, present anywhere and everywhere as a symbol of universality. The fantasy of that same rock selling out simultaneously in every corner of the world is perhaps equally romantic...

 

* * *

LP: How did IDPW and the Internet Yami-Ichi come about?

e: After the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster that occurred in Japan in 2011, the two of us in Exonemo left Tokyo for Fukuoka in Western Japan. Around that time, a lot of people were leaving the city for the countryside, or even going overseas. In Fukuoka, we rented a warehouse with the intent of starting something new. That's where the IDPW collective came together, as a way to gather all the fellow artists scattered across Japan in an extension of Exonemo's focus on "experiments that connect internet and reality."

The idea was to have the internet "descend" into reality around that actual space (genba), and around that concept we started, in different places and shapes, online and offline, irregularly and experimentally—and with a fair amount of stupidity—to organize the parties where the Internet Yami-Ichi first took shape.

LP: What were some of the most influential referents for the Yami-Ichi?

e: The primary referent for this kind of flea market event is Tokyo's Comic Market (or Comike). Since 1975 it has grown from a small subcultural gathering to an annual gathering of 500,000 enthusiasts. Beyond manga and anime-related works, you'll encounter countless items and ideas for sale that don't quite fit any category: a map of vending machines in Akihabara; homemade recipes; a bot that plays through pornographic computer games, and so on. It's stuff that's obviously useless for most people, and yet there is the provocation of coming face to face with that kind of pure creativity. In 2005, this inspired another community of enthusiasts called Dorkbot Tokyo, organized around "people doing strange things with electricity," who put together a flea market-style event that attracted serious attention. The combination of all these things eventually led to the Internet Yami-Ichi events.

LP: Given how the idea for the Yami-Ichi was born out of Apple's rejection of your proposed iPhone app, was your initial idea to host a web-based, as opposed to a physical, marketplace? Or, was the app meant to be a digital platform for organizing people only and then trade objects IRL?

e: Once we realized we couldn't sell on the App Store the silly idea of selling apps by connecting people's phones to our development PC came to mind—the ridiculousness of it fascinated us, I guess. So for the Yami-Ichi we didn't think about online sales at all. At the first two events we didn't even have wifi! Yet in that space entirely cut off from the internet, we were enveloped by an "internet-like" atmosphere—in turn prompting the question of whether this thing we call "the internet" has anything to do with being connected to the internet at all.

In the beginning, we knew we wanted to bring the internet into the flea market, but still couldn't imagine what kind of space would emerge from that encounter. That's when we came up with the idea of taking the app, that had already been rejected by Apple, and selling it by connecting a cable directly to people's phones. This lead to the realization that "perhaps the current internet is less free than the real world."

The early days of the internet were characterized by an understanding of its possibilities as that of a space completely separated from physical reality. More recently, the internet has become more convenient to use even as it falls under the control of global corporations, and as its use becomes more universal it has become a matter of public concern. With increasing privacy concerns we've come to feel the limits of online practice. Now, with the spread of smartphones the internet is no longer distinguishable from reality, the very distinction disappearing bit by bit as the problematics of online life encroach on reality itself. The present condition challenges us to take a step back from the internet, reappraise the way it has affected our sense of values and provided new concepts, and from there, consider the way we want technological innovation to proceed.

LP: In light of your project's success, do you think you'll submit a new proposal for an iPhone app to Apple in the future?

e: I don't know about the App Store—as an embryo of the idea that became the Internet Yami-Ichi, our rejected app has already made itself useful. We'll continue to release different apps and other works as exonemo in the future.

Fabien Mousse, Real Internet Art (2013)

LP: What is the most popular currency of exchange at the Yami-Ichi? Do people use bitcoins, instagram followers, tumblr accounts, gifs, image macros, etc. to buy/trade goods, or is mostly cash?

e: It's been mostly cash so far; people write price tags for "1 euro" or "1 bitcoin" as a joke, and it seems like participants trade their goods. In the US, there are plenty of convenient options for payment like Paypal, Square and Venmo, so that might change.

LP: What are your plans for the future of the Yami-Ichi?

e: This summer, we've held events in Taichung (Taiwan), Seoul, Linz (Austria), and will be in New York City on September 12; towards the end of the year, we're thinking of Scotland, São Paulo, and London as well as Indonesia and Mexico. Early on, IDPW was involved in organizing all events, but since the one held in Amsterdam last May we've pulled back a little bit, moving towards an open platform through which anyone can participate.

The question is how the internet, as a phenomenon unfolding in the present on a global scale, is acted upon differently in different parts of the world. There's a lot of work organizing these Yami-Ichi markets across the world, but for the moment it feels like a meaningful activity that I want to continue in the future.

The very notion of "the internet" will keep changing, now and in the future, as will the idea of what's considered "internet-like" or not. We're still at a point where drawing a line between "reality" and "the internet" allows us to understand something, but the line separating these two domains is disappearing. Soon, the Internet Yami-Ichi might look no different from an ordinary flea market! The Yami-Ichi event itself, I hope, already functions as a kind of barometer with which to gauge and comprehend our changing times.

 

The Internet Yami-Ichi is coming to New York on Saturday, September 12, 12pm-8pm at Knockdown Center, Queens (website / Facebook event).

Interview responses translated from Japanese by Love Kindstrand. Kindstrand is a doctoral student in anthropology at the University of Chicago, interested in intersections of anonymity and subjectivity in internet culture.

A black market for people consumed by the internet

"Welcome to [...] the Internet's next wave," Sue Halpern wrote in 2014, "the Internet of Things"—a harbinger of our gradual transition into "one of the things connected to and through the Internet." 

Yet, despite its sizeable implications for politics, capital, and consumers, the internet of things has not affected web-based art practices to the same degree. In fact, more and more contemporary internet artists are expressing interest in a somewhat opposing phenomenon, a trend that flips the logic of the Internet of Things on its head. From Paul Soulellis's Library of the Printed Web to Michael Mandiberg's Print Wikipedia, artists working on the internet and digital technologies seem less absorbed by the link between physical bodies and virtual networks than by the physical bodies of these networks—that is, by the matter of the web. As a result, what net art usually offers up is not so much the Internet of Things as the things of the internet.

The Internet Yami-Ichi is one gripping example of recent artistic experimentations with the materiality of the web. Created by the Japanese artist collectives IDPW (pronounced "i-pass") and Exonemo, the Yami-Ichi is a real-life counter-market for internet-related goods. Somewhere between "flea" and "black," the Yami-Ichi is at once both and neither: "In Japanese," Exonemo tells me, "the word 'yami' in 'yami-ichi' (black market) carries connotations not only of darkness, but also of 'sickness' and 'addiction,' in the sense of being too attached to something. More than just a market, we imagined the Yami-Ichi as a place where people consumed by the internet could come together."

The project's first installation was held in Tokyo on November 4, 2012 and attracted over 500 people interested in selling, buying, and trading truly unique internet objects. Since then, the Yami-Ichi has attracted much international attention, travelling to Berlin, Taichung, Seoul, Linz, Brussels, and Amsterdam. In the interview that follows, I ask Exonemo about the politics of their project, touching on the history of online consumer capitalism, Silk Road, the corporatization of Web 2.0, digital labor, and the meaning of liberty on the internet.

 Tomoya Watanabe (aka Tomorrow Shark) in Back streets of the Internet (2013) produced by W+K 東京LAB.

Right now I'm at the Rhizome office in the New Museum, less than a mile away from the federal courthouse on Pearl Street where the founder of Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, was sentenced to life in prison on May 29, 2015. In a letter to Judge Katherine B. Forrest right before his sentencing, Ulbricht said he created Silk Road because he believed "people should have the right to buy and sell whatever they wanted so long as they weren't hurting anyone else." While you explicitly prohibit the exchange of dangerous and illegal goods, you also seem to frame the Internet Yami-Ichi as a project to "liberate" the web by promoting the freedoms of internet users in the form of consumers, producers, and merchants. Were you and Ulbricht responding to a similar problem, namely the lack of liberty on the internet, but in different ways? While Ulbricht's libertarian solution focused on individual liberties as market freedoms, your answer seems to be grounded in the idea of communal liberty as human interaction.

With Silk Road, you see one attempt to reclaim the liberty once inherent to the internet that has since been lost, by creating an unregulated space within the internet itself. In contrast, the Internet Yami-Ichi is a proposal to withdraw from the internet "for the time being." The Yami-Ichi takes "internet addiction" as one of its themes, specifically by enacting a collectivity of selves still very much enraptured by the internet, gathering in real life to show each other the many internets we've all imagined/conjured up. Rather than creating "a space for free exchange," what we imagined is what I'd call "a flock of grotesque creatures emerging from the internet, giggling at the sight of themselves interacting in the same grotesque manner in real life"—and as such it felt like an entirely new perspective.

At the first event in Tokyo, we mostly invited people from our respective communities, so there was a strong atmosphere of people sharing the same sense of reality coming together. But when we gathered for the third time in Berlin the concept just took shape in a way that convinced us that people all over the world share a similar awareness: while no doubt people felt differently in various places, the sense of the internet as "something new" shared almost simultaneously across the world is fascinating.

From its inception, the internet has been intimately connected with the development of postindustrial capitalism (and vice-versa). E-commerce websites like eBay and Amazon have been leading internet marketplaces since 1995, the same year Mark Newmark started Craigslist as an email newsletter for promoting events around the Bay Area. By 1999, the Argentinean MercadoLibre had appropriated the concept of a "free" online market as the website's brand name. More recently, Etsy and DaWanda have combined the personalized and user-generated aspects of social media websites into their corporate interfaces, allowing users to create their own online stores and sell "unique," often handmade commodities. What would you say is the place of the Yami-Ichi in the history of online market capitalism? 

The biggest difference between eBay, Etsy and the other e-commerce sites you mention on one hand, and the Yami-Ichi on the other, is that the former seize on the convenience of the web in order to provide the most accessible service, while the Yami-Ichi does the complete opposite. The things that appear for sale at the Yami-Ichi are preliminary responses to our question of what constitutes an "internet-like" thing, but it's not as if the people selling them do so normally or try to make a livelihood out of doing so. The people who buy them, in turn, earn their own answers to the question of what an "internet-like" thing would actually mean, or perhaps they come with that in mind. In other words, the action of buying and selling in the Yami-Ichi is less an economic one, and rather entails a kind of media research that parodies the action of economic exchange. In an age where getting by without accessing the internet is becoming difficult or impossible, the nature or meaning of that thing we call "the internet" is seldom questioned. The Yami-Ichi constitutes a kind of meditation on that condition, with the actual act of exchange being more of an auxiliary thing, serving to reinforce that reality. Of course, this is nothing more than my personal thoughts on the matter, and presumably other people participate with different conceptions of what they are doing and why.

Poster for the Yami-Ichi in Amsterdam earlier this year

Are market freedoms, as in the liberties afforded to consumers in a capitalist economy, an important aspect of being free in general, especially as this idea is conceived on the internet today? 

One reason for running the Yami-Ichi in Japan—and it might not be much different from other places in this regard—was as a challenge to the commonplace notion that "one does not pay for internet things." It wasn't long ago that you could find anything for free on the net, and online commerce suffered as a result. Recently things are changing somewhat, particularly due to increasingly aggressive strategies by major corporations, but there is a certain irony to paying actual money for things derived from internet culture at the Yami-Ichi that remains interesting. Few people in Japan, for example, will give money to a homeless person—even street musicians have a hard time. In light of this tendency to "only pay for what benefits" you directly, paying money for non-beneficiary, even useless things at the Yami-Ichi starts to appear as a critical act. At the Berlin event, some participants noticed that people were reluctant to get their wallets out, and in this way there are cultural connotations to simple acts of buying and selling. I'm really curious to see what happens when we open in New York City, where tipping for services and so on suggests an entirely different culture of money exchange. 

Despite their dependence on the free digital labor of their users, corporate social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, brand themselves as service providers and social utility platforms. While this may very well be true, their self-understanding as service suppliers elides, quite deliberately of course, the identity of their users as producers of internet content, that is, as workers rather than customers. By allowing internet users to sell their online content as real products, by providing them the opportunity to be remunerated for their digital labor, do you think the Internet Yami-Ichi works to redress the injustices of free digital labor on the internet?

If you ask the participants selling things at the Yami-Ichi, they'll tell you how differently people communicate here compared to the exhibitions where they usually show their ideas and creations. Sell or no sell, the creator is immediately confronted with the question of how much their idea is worth, and the customer's response is immediate. With art, there is a certain anxiety in discussing the merits or demerits of a specific work in the conversation between artist and audience. At the Yami-Ichi, it is possible to talk about this in terms of an objective standard: is this worth five bucks or not? For the seller, it seems it's become an appreciated opportunity for casually questioning their own work.

For the first Internet Yami-Ichi, you stipulated only one criteria for sellers: "to sell things that have something to do with the Internet." As a result a diverse mix of unique internet-based objects were on display, including the hand-crafted (and live recorded) ringtone, the "Real-World Re-Tweet," the "Spacer .gif," and a host of other fascinating historical and contemporary fragments of "web matter." While the majority of items on sale appeared to be born-digital goods or services morphed into a real-world format, one of the participants, Tomoya Watanabe (aka Tomorrow Shark), did the precise opposite of this. Watanabe sold real-life stones accompanied by a CD-ROM with their 3D scan data. In doing this, he took an organic object, digitized it, and sold both versions, the physical stone and its digitally-rendered image. So, in a way, the Yami-Ichi offers users not only the possibility to bring things from the web into the physical world, but also the prospect of adding real-life objects to the internet, "filling the internet with things that exist in the real world," as he put it. 

The novelty of Tomorrow Shark's "stone" lies, as you explain, not in the idea of bringing a thing from the internet into real space, but in tying a material object to its three-dimensional data, a presence that connects net and physical realities. There is something romantic in the encounter between the novel, still unstable entity that is "the internet," and the ordinary rock, present anywhere and everywhere as a symbol of universality. The fantasy of that same rock selling out simultaneously in every corner of the world is perhaps equally romantic...

 

* * *

How did IDPW and the Internet Yami-Ichi come about?

After the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster that occurred in Japan in 2011, the two of us in Exonemo left Tokyo for Fukuoka in Western Japan. Around that time, a lot of people were leaving the city for the countryside, or even going overseas. In Fukuoka, we rented a warehouse with the intent of starting something new. That's where the IDPW collective came together, as a way to gather all the fellow artists scattered across Japan in an extension of Exonemo's focus on "experiments that connect internet and reality."

The idea was to have the internet "descend" into reality around that actual space (genba), and around that concept we started, in different places and shapes, online and offline, irregularly and experimentally—and with a fair amount of stupidity—to organize the parties where the Internet Yami-Ichi first took shape.

What were some of the most influential referents for the Yami-Ichi?

The primary referent for this kind of flea market event is Tokyo's Comic Market (or Comike). Since 1975 it has grown from a small subcultural gathering to an annual gathering of 500,000 enthusiasts. Beyond manga and anime-related works, you'll encounter countless items and ideas for sale that don't quite fit any category: a map of vending machines in Akihabara; homemade recipes; a bot that plays through pornographic computer games, and so on. It's stuff that's obviously useless for most people, and yet there is the provocation of coming face to face with that kind of pure creativity. In 2005, this inspired another community of enthusiasts called Dorkbot Tokyo, organized around "people doing strange things with electricity," who put together a flea market-style event that attracted serious attention. The combination of all these things eventually led to the Internet Yami-Ichi events.

Given how the idea for the Yami-Ichi was born out of Apple's rejection of your proposed iPhone app, was your initial idea to host a web-based, as opposed to a physical, marketplace? Or, was the app meant to be a digital platform for organizing people only and then trade objects IRL?

Once we realized we couldn't sell on the App Store the silly idea of selling apps by connecting people's phones to our development PC came to mind—the ridiculousness of it fascinated us, I guess. So for the Yami-Ichi we didn't think about online sales at all. At the first two events we didn't even have wifi! Yet in that space entirely cut off from the internet, we were enveloped by an "internet-like" atmosphere—in turn prompting the question of whether this thing we call "the internet" has anything to do with being connected to the internet at all.

In the beginning, we knew we wanted to bring the internet into the flea market, but still couldn't imagine what kind of space would emerge from that encounter. That's when we came up with the idea of taking the app, that had already been rejected by Apple, and selling it by connecting a cable directly to people's phones. This lead to the realization that "perhaps the current internet is less free than the real world."

The early days of the internet were characterized by an understanding of its possibilities as that of a space completely separated from physical reality. More recently, the internet has become more convenient to use even as it falls under the control of global corporations, and as its use becomes more universal it has become a matter of public concern. With increasing privacy concerns we've come to feel the limits of online practice. Now, with the spread of smartphones the internet is no longer distinguishable from reality, the very distinction disappearing bit by bit as the problematics of online life encroach on reality itself. The present condition challenges us to take a step back from the internet, reappraise the way it has affected our sense of values and provided new concepts, and from there, consider the way we want technological innovation to proceed.

In light of your project's success, do you think you'll submit a new proposal for an iPhone app to Apple in the future?

I don't know about the App Store—as an embryo of the idea that became the Internet Yami-Ichi, our rejected app has already made itself useful. We'll continue to release different apps and other works as Exonemo in the future.

Fabien Mousse, Real Internet Art (2013)

What is the most popular currency of exchange at the Yami-Ichi? Do people use bitcoins, instagram followers, tumblr accounts, gifs, image macros, etc. to buy/trade goods, or is mostly cash?

It's been mostly cash so far; people write price tags for "1 euro" or "1 bitcoin" as a joke, and it seems like participants trade their goods. In the US, there are plenty of convenient options for payment like Paypal, Square and Venmo, so that might change.

What are your plans for the future of the Yami-Ichi?

This summer, we've held events in Taichung (Taiwan), Seoul, Linz (Austria), and will be in New York City on September 12; towards the end of the year, we're thinking of Scotland, São Paulo, and London as well as Indonesia and Mexico. Early on, IDPW was involved in organizing all events, but since the one held in Amsterdam last May we've pulled back a little bit, moving towards an open platform through which anyone can participate.

The question is how the internet, as a phenomenon unfolding in the present on a global scale, is acted upon differently in different parts of the world. There's a lot of work organizing these Yami-Ichi markets across the world, but for the moment it feels like a meaningful activity that I want to continue in the future.

The very notion of "the internet" will keep changing, now and in the future, as will the idea of what's considered "internet-like" or not. We're still at a point where drawing a line between "reality" and "the internet" allows us to understand something, but the line separating these two domains is disappearing. Soon, the Internet Yami-Ichi might look no different from an ordinary flea market! The Yami-Ichi event itself, I hope, already functions as a kind of barometer with which to gauge and comprehend our changing times.

 

The Internet Yami-Ichi is coming to New York on Saturday, September 12, 12pm-8pm at Knockdown Center, Queens (website / Facebook event).