Two firemen, a desktop computer and a baby frog

Sep 8 — Oct 23, 2016



Two firemen, a desktop computer and a baby frog was an online installation by Cory Arcanagel and Olia Lialina presented as part of their exhibition Asymmetrical Relationship. Taking place on the Western Front website, the work was based on a collection of images sourced from the CD accompaniment to Gus Venditto’s HTML editing manual Microsoft Frontpage 97: Html and Beyond (1997).

Of the project, Lialina writes:

“The history of the WWW is not a singular one, but a dispersed collection of eclectic histories and stories – many that have nothing to do with anybody else’s.

There are graphics, sounds, elements, names, tools, and events that had their influences almost on everything and there are very personal heroes that never crossed a border of a particular community or a server. For many the starry night background is the symbol of the WWW, for some it would be a Mulder and Scully portrait, for a few — a SETI button.

It is difficult to find something that would not mean anything to anybody. But I think I recently managed.

It is a collection of 10 images in TIFF (!) that came on a CD attached to Microsoft Frontpage 97: Html and Beyond manual written by Gus Venditto in 1997.

Frontpage was a widespread WYSIWYG HTML editor. Half of the web was built with it. The manual itself was also no rarity. But have you ever seen these graphics on the web? Did you ever copy them from the CD, convert to a GIF or a JPG and put them on your page? Do you know anybody who did?

Since a year Cory Arcangel and myself were flipping through the files, asking ourselves: why TIFs? Why firemen? Who has bitten off the donut? WHAT ARE THESE SHOES? How this collection came together at all?

On the eve of the opening of our show Asymmetrical Response at the Western Front in Vancouver, we decided to give these graphics a second chance. With the generous permission given to us by the webmasters of The Western Front website, we replaced featured images on their blog with two firemen, an iguana, a flying twenty dollar bill and a wide-angle view of a doughnut among others. Enjoy!”

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Western Front is a non-profit
artist-run centre in Vancouver.

We acknowledge the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations as traditional owners of the land upon which Western Front stands.