Besides The Screen

The preservation of Mouchette by Martine Neddam and Karin De Wild.
Here is a PDF version of the Power Point presentation  created for Besides the Screen :  Martine+Karin3


Preservation = Creation+Distribution

In online art the distribution cannot be separated from the creation itself: it is all the same data.(For example in a new work you test the compatibility of a script to all browsers: if it doesn’t work you don’t use is constantly “being preserved”, otherwise it wouldn’t be there to be visited. Just like all websites are:

-paying the web host, 
-re-registering the domain name

-fixing outdated code, dead links… etc…

But more importantly, Mouchette is preserved “alive” and constantly growing.

Mouchette is “preserved” when the website is active, receives contributions, is moderated and repaired to maintain all its interactions.


Mouchette Constantly Growing

The website generates a lot of data inside the domain name and outside of it, all of it being “Mouchette”, and being constantly growing, modifying or disappearing

1-inside ====> The database system, posts of visitors, and more

2-Outside ==> , references found online, etc…

I call this Generative Preservation



-a preservation that allows the website to change constantly

-when there is a proliferation of material and data

-when the growing ability is being preserved

-preservation itself generates more material and more data

-the generated material may diverge from its origin

-there is no original but an origin


The back offices

-Each work has their own database manager with a custom interface, each made at different periods.

-They are used to moderate or edit the contents of the posts and publish them, or not.

-They are custom interfaces, created between 1999 and 2004, without CMS

-They only process what I need to process, they are simple

-Yet they have no info system, I am the only one who knows what the interface does.


The Mailing list Manager

-The emails sent to the users were a part of the narrative into which the user has posted. They notified of the publishing and continued the story.

-The system is totally outdated (and not complying with the new rules), yet still in use.

-the preservation options are always full of contradictions



The Identity-Sharing Interface is a publishing system inside Mouchette where users could create parts of the mouchette site

It uses 2 complete publishing interfaces

One is for the user, with a funny old-fashioned look

One is for the admin (me) with a default design and an extensive set of functions

All of it is accessible and potentially usable, but many functions are not working any more


Here in Suicide Kit: a narrative scenario “What is the best way to kill yourself when you are under 13”?

Here  the posts are being republished online, every week more or less, there is a moderation, it’s manual.

Answers are being classified: here the category “cruel jokes”. You can circulate the categories through the links at the top of the page.

20 years of small narratives are being stored in the database. They can be searched by the public with a simple search tool. I can re-use them in different works.Martine+Karin3

Here from another work “Lullaby for a dead Fly”

Some mini scenario originated from post to the work “Fly”

Here below are pictures as “gifts to the fan-club”

More “gifts” to the fan club stored in the site.


Generative Preservation 2-Outside Mouchette

Outside the domain name, there is a lot of webpages of information concerning mouchette and it is worthy of preservation, whether it was made by me, or others, or just found online.


-a repository for online material about mouchette that I re-integrate into by copying and linking


-fan pages


-academic papers

-photos of shows



All this material defines in multiple ways the context of the reception of Mouchette


The critical approach of the work is made by the users and published by them

Here an excerpt from a blog:

Entering the world of for me is like entering the alternate reality of my early teenage self.

Cue obsession with kitsch, suicide, and pretty/deranged pictures. Mouchette’s genius lies in an interactive and unexpected experience created by an anonymous figure (human? Cyborg? Man? Woman? Child? Adult?) that doesn’t supply all of the answers.

I believe this is a piece of net art because, really, what else would it be? It’s a mash-up of cut and paste, interactivity, mystique and originality.

Mouchette embodies the new media artist as a prankster, whether that be luring viewers into releasing person information or leaving out enough information to keep us engaged and fascinated.

As a user 17 years after’s inception, In 2013 I am still interested, engaged and curious while perusing the site.”



Behind every website there are invisible workers

-the author

but also

-the person who registers the domain name

-the web host customer

-the system admin

-the moderator

no website remains accessible just by itself

Don’t exclude the artist from the preservation process

Think of all the other invisible workers, a chain of people processing the data

This is a plea to remove the blind spot we have for all the humans who process the data



My plea here is to remove the blind spot that hides the human worker(s) behind my website, behind every website. Institutions continue to ignore why they are seeing art online: who puts it there, who keeps it there.
This is the first condition to get involved in the preservation of net art: to retrace the presence of all the human workers, their commitment, their expertise, their authority. To preserve the way I think it should be done is to transmit my practice to someone else, one or more people who can run the site in a similar way, which can also be a personal way, but a way that keeps the spirit.
Similarly to eastern practices of preservation when you don’t preserve the objects or the monuments, but you transmit the craft, the talents, and the experience in order re-build the monument or the object when necessary.

Here is a PDF version of the Power Point presentation that I am doing together with Karin De Wild:  Martine+Karin3

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