The Unreliable Archivist by Janet Cohen, Keith Frank, and Jon Ippolito.

When it comes to digital art, even the way that the art is stored can be artwork in itself. The Unreliable Archivist is a project that was originally coded into Netscape 4 as a tongue in cheek archive unreliable archivist

When the archive is opened, oddity is what expels from it. There is a grainy screen with a small image and off to the left are a collection of sliders. The sliders decide whether the object being affected will be plain, enigmatic, loaded, or preposterous. This can change anything from the background to the words that caption the images. And as one can guess, the things being changed go from believable to just downright weird.

The creators of this archive were certainly trying to say something about the arbitrary things that can happen to art. It’s placement online can affect how it’s interpreted as well as suggestion from captions. The user even has the ability to arbitrarily change the settings on the art. The artists were making a statement about the arbitrary assignment of value to art and using silly phrases and images to demonstrate this.

The artwork is certainly effective in being weird and calling out that art has many interpretations. Every user that goes onto the site will interpret the captions and pictures differently, even if they are the same each time.

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The Unreliable Archivist by Janet Cohen, Keith Frank, and Jon Ippolito.

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