Stephen Walter, Miltos Manetas & Dzifa Benson, East Wing

By Ben Miller | 22 January 2009
A picture of a man in front of a giant projection of an Internet screen

Greek artist Miltos Manetas (above) has an open studio at The Courtauld Institute of Art this weekend. Pic © East Wing VIII and Ilenia Bombardi

Exhibition preview: East Wing Collection, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, London, January 24-25 2009

Having created a video of the normally invincible Lara Croft dying under scores of poisoned darts and an installation of heroic gaming plumber Mario sleeping, Miltos Manetas has established himself as an artist very much down with the kids.

In a 2004 essay, the Greek geek theorised that websites “are today’s most radical and important art projects,” comparing the vast unchartered terrain of the Internet to the discovery of America.

A further paper, the pointedly titled “copying from video games is the art of our days,” reckons console characters are “extended versions of reality,” with artistic interpretations of them becoming “easy and beautiful and, for that reason, the coolest thing to do.”

At the latest one-off opening for Somerset House’s East Wing this weekend, the North London based artist presents his Internet Paintings, transforming The Courtauld into his workspace to paint portraits of Internet pages in oil.

“I like being at The Courtauld,” says Manetas, pointing to the “lively atmosphere, classical architecture and academic surroundings” for inspiration. “By returning on different days and overlaying different websites, my works show the always changing nature of the internet - they will never be finished as the internet will never end and is always growing and developing.”

“Miltos’ painting is enthralling – I’ve never encountered an artist who works in this way before,” says organiser Chloe Nelkin.

“People can’t help but become involved in his temporary studio, contributing ideas and watching as he picks new and dynamic web pages and changes, expands and develops these incredible canvasses.”

A picture of a drawn map of london in tiny black line detail

Stephen Walter's interpretation of London (above) took two years to complete. Pic © TAG Fine Art

Stephen Walter picks London as his vast landscape, making a cartoonish map of the city in such immense detail that you need a magnifying glass to pick through the idiosyncrasies captured within.

“You can spot your own London borough on the wall and find nearby landmarks,” suggests Nelkin, who found her own house in Barnet on the map. Walter spent two years studying historical documents including travel literature, antique maps and biographies of London to fill his ordinance with observations and oddities during his two-year re-mapping of the city.

Dzifa Benson, a Ghanaian performance poet and writer who has a one-year residency at East Wing, will also echo sounds and visual projections through the corridors.

Open 10am-5pm on Saturday, 12pm-5pm on Sunday, admission free. Dzifa Benson will be leading a workshop on Sunday (TBC), call 020 7872 0220 for further details.

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