Interview with Olivia Brum

This interview made by Olivia Brum in February 2019 is now in the archive of the University of Amsterdam, free for anyone to read. This is the pdf:



Here is an excerpt:

Olivia Brum The Internet context. First


Martine Neddam Well, for example, I was one of the first to have something, an interface which allows participants to interact. So, I had what people call a blog or whatever. I had a self-made interface to do that. So, to receive the mail. So, I had interactive narratives, little stories. And then same. People would help me or would suggest… information also circulated from person to person and from… how can I say… non-expert to non-expert. And so that’s how I learned how to, for example, make a form when it was a bit more technical than made an HTML page. HTML page also I learned because there was a small moment in the birth of browsers that an editor was included. So, you didn’t even have to write. I’m very bad at writing code. I can’t remember it. So, it had an editor. So, that’s how I started writing my first pages, through the editor. And then it stopped after three or four months. I don’t think it even lasted a year, maybe a year, that the editor was included with a browser. It was Netscape. I don’t know which number. So, and even then, some people would spend time with me, either artists who had figured out a little bit of code by themselves, or… They would spend time with me to help me do it. So, that sort of also personal connection and also collaborative atmosphere prevailed a lot. There was also a time when the artistic situation was also much more favorable for artists. So, artists would help each other or the city would help people with giving them spaces for very little money. And this was when… was also so artists who had easy access to grants were also prone to collaborate and help each other. So, it was a sort of, I don’t know, yeah, also a utopian time in the sense of collaborative, emancipatory time because of the place and because of the… political atmosphere. This free space given to, yeah.


Olivia Brum Yeah. But in the ways also that like search engines being introduced and commercialization.

Martine Neddam Not yet, I’m talking of a time when…

Olivia Brum But earlier?


Martine Neddam Not yet. I would say like previous to 2000 you had AltaVista or… They didn’t do much of a job.

Olivia Brum Yeah. But how the context changed as these things happened.


Martine Neddam And I saw it. I could see it changing through my works. Some works are really… and I have all these databases with the dates. So, so, of course people would not interact the same. For example, people would when, when people started coming to my site because of keywords in search engines, or just sentences in search engines, then the access changed and the meaning of my site changed completely. Or some parts of the site changed completely. So yes, I really saw it happen and could… And participated to this change really as they went on. So, I can say in certain works, I can say I did that because search engine has happened. This happened because all because the web 2.0 what they call web 2.0 wasn’t existing yet. I was offering a platform to people because that’s where they came to. So, I have lived within very special periods and in a very special atmosphere also as, as a way to acknowledge with the changes and to move on or not with them according to what I wanted and the new.


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