deleting net art

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Expunction – Deleting intima.org Net Art Works
11 May – 16 June 2011

Memory is there to deceive

Expunction is the last net art project by Igor Štromajer. Between 11 May and 16 June 2011, Štromajer ritually deleted a number of his net art works produced between 1996 and 2007. He expunged one net art project per day, permanently deleting it from his online server, so that the projects are no longer available at the Intima Virtual Base. He deleted 37 net art works altogether, amounting to 3,288 files or 101.72 MB.

Those of Štromajer’s projects that were not on the Intima Virtual Base online server at the time of expunction but are permanently loaded on the servers of the galleries and museums that have acquired them through purchases or donations (Centre Pompidou in Paris, Ars Electronica Lab in Linz, Computer Fine Arts Gallery in New York, MNCA Reina Sofía in Madrid, etc.) were (and still are) inaccessible to the artist for deletion.

The Expunction project broaches the questions of temporality, duration, archiving, and accessibility of (net) art works that automatically change over time as the hardware and software change (browsers, players, applications, etc.), slowly but inexorably losing their functionality and consequently also their content. The artist’s basic premise in this project was that whoever creates, programs, and composes art is also entitled to deprogram, deconstruct, and delete it. This is not an act of violence or destruction, but rather the observation of the natural rhythm of birth, life, and death, cyclically repeated and oscillating in natural amplitudes.

In a way, Štromajer has erased his own personal history, since he believes that our memory serves to deceive, to betray us, to misrepresent rather than paint and describe the past. A deceitful memory can be erased without qualms, for it does not offer an authentic image of the past of which it speaks, but always only a deceptive, a fraudulent, fabricated, and distorted image. For this reason the deleted works or their remaining fragments, undeletable once they have been made publicly accessible since the World Wide Web is so widely spread and fragmentary, tell us much more about the originals (original works) than the originals themselves. With its empty slot and precise documentation, a nonexistent work, or rather its absence, points out the ephemerality of a net art work, telling at the same time much more about the deleted work than the so-called actual original could.

Number of deleted net art works: 37
Number of deleted files: 3.288
Amount of deleted files: 101.72 MB

- Deletion frequency: one (1) net art work per day
- Started: 11 May 2011
- Duration: 37 days (last project deleted on 16 June 2011)
- Subject: net art works by Igor Štromajer, created between 2007 to 1996, were being deleted, erased from the original intima.org server

[Flickr] Expunction DEL NET ART Screenshots

[TXT] The Potential of Erasing (Liberating Ireversible Deletions: Art, Plasticity And Memory); Text by Pia Brezavšček; Selected excerpts about Expunction | The complete text can be found in: MASKA Performing Arts Journal, Vol. XXVII, No. 149–150 (autumn / October 2012)

- Annet Dekker: (Electronic Media) FUTURE, or how to live Forever, 2013
- Conor McGarrigle: Preserving Born Digital Art : Lessons From Artists' Practice; Dublin Institute of Technology (PDF)

Archived Facebook debate, 2011: 1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5


@112mirabela: 'Race to save digital art from the rapid pace of technological change' #guardian

@markamerika: Why do men collect art? Aesthetics, competition, risk, prestige, mate attraction, legacy, immortality. It's an entrepreneur's wet dream.

Heath Bunting: "As technology moves forward.. all my work is falling apart.. I'd like to move forward as well, into a more outside adventurous practice, so this video is an attempt to document the ruins and the remains of my internet work"


Moderna galerija Ljubljana, MG+MSUM - Crises and New Beginnings: Art in Slovenia 2005–2015, exhibition, December 2015


Štromajer's Rhizome/archives web page, last updated in 2001

Expunction: 1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5

Igor Štromajer · intima.org + .info

a=tF2 · 2011