BOM’s Visitor Assistant Claire talks to us about BEST EFFORT NETWORK.  A work we were due to display at BOM alongside London’s Arebyte Gallery, The Photographers’ Gallery and the Open Data Institute this Spring. Luckily, the work is a website, so you can enjoy it from your device! 

Best Effort Network (2015/ 2020) sets out to make visible, the hidden processes that are at work when we access data. An image of Olia spinning on a carousel appears and disappears from our view, her image seemingly at the whim of some unknown force. What we are witnessing with her disappearance, is the website being loaded onto another browser on another screen, elsewhere in the world. When this happens, spinning Olia is lost to our view. As our request reaches the top of the queue of waiting browsers Olia returns to us.

Olia is spinning through cyber space on a ‘Best Effort Network’, a term describing the method by which data packets are channelled to a destination, these packets can be lost, resent or bounced back. The data packets may arrive, or may not. Their quality may be diminished or appear exactly as intended.

The artist is asking us to draw a parallel between this and other areas of our contemporary experience where unintended consequences result from unreliable but trusted processes.

Olia Lialina, Moscow born pioneer of net based art, was one of the first to recognise the internet as a medium and playground for artists to disseminate ideas, she is credited with founding one of the first web galleries.

Have a look, it’s a fascinating archive of net based ideas, innovation and history.

Currently Writing on New Media, Digital Folklore and Vernacular Web. Olia Lialina is the Co-founder of Geocities Research Institute and is Professor for new media and interface design at Merz Akademie, Stuttgart