Anthony Antonellis

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Anthony Antonellis is an American, internet-based artist who works out of New York City


Anthony Antonellis was born 1981 in Massachusettes and graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design with BFA in painting, and from Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Germany with a MFA in Public Art and New Artistic Strategies, He is also the creator of netartnet.nett a website that brings together found all over the internet into a single 'gallery' website.

Antonellis is known for his somewhat off-kilter humour that is present in most of his works. He pokes fun at many aspects of the online social worlds and the use of digital media, and he uses a lot of visual jokes pertaining to the Internet to connect with his viewers.

Internet Art

Antonellis creates online work in several different ways. He creates interactive webpages that often poke fun at mass media and advertising. For example, Facebook Bliss is a site which allows the user to gain "Self-administered Facebook notifications" by clicking on the three well known Facebook symbols: Friend Request, Messages and Notifications, and increasing the number of "received" messages. The piece is clever in pointing out the emotional connection users have with being noticed and involved in social media.

Screenshot of Facebook Bliss

Another, more controversial interactive website of his is called 3D Porn HD with Retina Display. When opened, this webpage displays the image of an iPad on its' side with an interactive "slide" button, similar to the ones on real iPads. When the user slides this button across, the iPad begins playing a video that consists of a collection of different porn clips. The face of one of the participants in the videos has been made transparent by Antonellis, and replaced by a feed of the user's webcam, which is activated when the iPad is opened. The final effect is the user seeing their own, live face participating in a porn video. It's is a very unsettling piece for the viewer and it speaks to issues surrounding online porn, privacy and leaked sex tapes or nude photographs.

Antonellis also creates videos, often re-appropriating video clips from other sources to create a collage-like piece.

Screenshot of an Emily's Best Video reaction video

Closer is a video created completely out of stock footage, with narration placed over the image to give it a storyline. Emily's Best Video is a video that "compiles the reactions of people watching a mysterious video". The viewers are a random group that answered the artist's "online call to watch 'the worst video ever.'”[1]. This video was eventually destroyed, and the only evidence of its existence is the collection of reaction videos made by those who watched it. Another video by Antonellis called Pick Me, Pick Me is a very subtle, simple but very effective piece. Described by Antonellis as "a Photoshop performance in color picking", the video is a simple screen-capture of the Colour Picker tool in Photoshop. The cursor constantly moves over the colours and numbers, changing them and creating a dance like performance.

Antonellis is well known for his GIF art, from his own simple, gradient-style GIFs that mimic computer Paint tools to GIFs entirely dedicated to the image of melting Butter. There is also a collection of GIF's called the Endangered GIF Preserve. The GIFs originally from Wikipedia or Wikimedia that had been nominated for deletion and which Antonellis saved from being permanently lost.

Through referencing Photoshop, social media, stock footage and other sources of the digital experience, Antonellis highlights the very creation of net art, through net art, examining what the individual experiences in the digital world of art viewing.

Installation Art

Paint Bucket GIF on LED Billboard

Antonellis also works in public installation art, which creates an interesting mirror to the way he creates art within public spaces online. His online works mimic well known computer programs and social media sites in the digital world, while his public installations work to create a similar effect in the real world.

XP is a simple piece where a an acrylic board was painted to looks like the buttons on computer window within the program of Windows XP. The piece has three painted boxes, each symbolizing a different window command: Minimize, Expand and Close. These are very recognizable signs for anyone who has ever used a computer and offers an interesting parallels between how we see the digital world through windows on our desktop, and how we see the real world through the window of our eyes.

Paint Bucket GIF creates a similar feeling by displaying a GIF, an entity that had usually only ever existed in the digital space, on an LED Billboard next to a highway. The GIF consists of a recognizably Antonellis gradient gif, with the image of the Photoshop paint bucket symbol in the right hand corner, again bringing familiar digital tools into the public space.

Net Art Implant

Net Art Implant GIF

In 2013, Anthony Antonellis had a "NFC / RFID chip is the size of a grand of sand"[2] implanted into the back of his hand. The chip holds 1 KB of data, which at the time contained his signature gradient GIF. When a compatible device, such as a phone, was held over the implant, a webpage would be opened on the device, which would display the net art. The device can also be used to upload new forms of art into the chip, which Antonellis says will allow the device to act as a "digital net art tattoo"[3]

This piece is very interesting as it takes net art, which normally exists in an enormous and sometimes hard to define digital world, and not only pulls it into the real world, but places it inside the human body. This not only changes the idea of the tattoo, but it offers a new, if somewhat extreme, means for individuals to access net art.

Controversy and the "Mark of the Beast"

After Antonellis's implant story was published on the internet, there were many concerns around the implications and ethics of inserting a device into the human body. Implanting chips within the hands of individuals has already stirred up controversy, as the use of this kind of chip can range from holding credit card information, allowing one's car to unlock, holding information about medication and allergies, to allowing an individual's location to be found on a GPS. There was a lot of discussion around the idea that these chips will be forced on individuals in the future , leading to government monitoring of the common everyday man. Many Christians responded to the art piece, quoting the Bible and calling it the "Mark of the Beast" [4], which usually refers to the number "666", and has also been used to examine the evils of money exchange and the selling and buying of products.

It is interesting to see this kind of reaction towards the unconventional way Antonellis has displayed his work. The artist himself responded to this backlash by creating a Tumblr page called But I Feel Great... in which he collects responses from Facebook and other social media that critique the work as a sin or as leaning towards a dystopian future.