studioNOTES: support for artists/ideas and information

Number 25

June - August 1999

Frédéric Madre
web site

Frederic Madre, pleine-peau FRÉDÉRIC MADRE started his internet piece m.s.t. last October. "It took me approximately three months to complete it! Not full time, but constant thinking. Then the actual coding might have taken me a whole week (artist time). I took some days off my work when I knew I was ready to finish it once and for all, although even today I'm tempted to add things." As he does with "everything I do," he published it in pleine-peau, ( fred/mst.html), a hypermedia art revue he created with some friends.

A Short Time Later: "I saw a call for contributions in a mailing-list called Syndicate that focuses on eastern cum ex-Communist countries (not just art) and I went to the site and the registration and everything was online." He entered and was selected. The show, Trash Art (, is part of a broader festival organized by Soros Foundation in Moscow.

What He Wrote about His Piece for the Festival: "m.s.t. means 'moi sans toi' (me without you) and also 'maladie sexuellement transmissible' (venereal disease). It is an appropriation of the rhetorics of pornography on the internet to present the atrocious carcass of a failing love affair. When the flesh is discarded the organs are revealed, some of them functioning, others barely retaining the shape of what is no more. The visitor of this ruin can either look and go away or decide to dig in the remains and, perhaps, salvage putrefied souvenirs of me without you."

What You See First: If your screen is set to high resolution, you'll see a background of four vertical bands. Reading left to right, the first, taking about 20% of the width, is totally black. The next, about a 1/4 screen wide, is an out-of-focus color photo of a woman in a department store; she is dressed in black and facing the camera, possibly pointing at it. The third band, just a bit wider, is also black, and the final one is the left third or so of same photograph. (If your screen resolution is set lower, you'll probably see just the left black band and the photo. As with all internet art, each viewer's experiences are conditioned not only by his or her knowledge, history, culture, and temperament, etc., but by his or her equipment and settings as well.) On top of this background are several lines of javascript, (a programing language), and some rectangles with such things as "petite mort grand mal" or "Ta Bouche dans My Mouth" written in them.

What Happens If You Keep Looking: As the page continues to load, the background is repeated over and over, but the material on top is different for each screen. The boxes or links are clickable. There are several dozen of them. Some lead to images or to written material or a combination of both or even other links. One shows your directory. Another may seem to crash your system. Others lead nowhere or create error messages. The link at the bottom of the home page reads, "[YOUR PRETTY FACE IS GOING TO HELL]."

What Might or Might Not Happen: The paragraph you seek does not exist in this article. If this condition persists, please go to the next paragraph.

How it All Started: "Looking at those annoying sites that the Japanese seem to be specialists at, sites that when you close the window or hit 'back' produce automatically a new window and sometimes dozens in a continuous flow. (It's called circle-jerking, apparently.) Then suddenly I stumbled on this page which was so long, and there was a background image, and all of it was full of links and tiny ads in Japanese. I loved it for some reason, and decided to save the html on my hard disk. Then I decide to break it open, rid it of all the links and images, and replace each one of them with my own stuff. Which I patiently began to do. Sometimes I thought, Let's cut some of it, but I never did. It was huge. I like that it is so big and that it takes time to load. One very important part is that it loads in two stages; you can scroll down the first part while it is loading the rest and only later you can see the rest and scroll further."

Where the Images Come From: "They are found, cropped, blown up and modified. I was looking for faces of women with particular expressions. I accumulated them over time, and then I looked thru my collection and chose the part of the image I wanted to use, then blew it up (any imaging software can do this; I used Lviewpro) to get the mosaic effect. Sometimes I had to do this several times to get the right proportion of mosaics. It's really important as it goes on the web that the images, although they have to be big in width/height, must not be big in size/download time, which is why I use the JPEG format and do not care much about 'quality.'"

Where the Text Comes From: "I've written most of it myself trying to use the style of porn banner ads and apply it to my intentions. Sometimes I left original text; for instance, "(not new but raw)" was in the original html, and I left it 'cause it's too good. Strangely, this text was left inside the original html code, as a comment. There was lots of stuff inside this source html that you could not see at all on the japanese porn site. It was just inside and I looked at all of it and extracted some of it. Like looking in your grandparents' attic after they're dead. Some of the text that looks like gibberish ($B#J#a#p#a#n#e#s(J $B#H#a#r) is Japanese characters that my browser could not display 'cause I do not have a Japanese font. I used some of that, too, and also made visible some javascript code, mostly used in porn sites to open new windows and show more and more ads. They are called consoles, those smaller ad-filled windows."

What Really Started it All: "I had this idea of doing something around porn imagery without the porn but, more importantly, I wanted to impress my girlfriend. She had told me, when seeing, that it was not dynamic enough. I was piqued! (She was not yet my girlfriend.) So I thought that I must achieve more this time. Later she said it was the best piece of art she saw this year, which made me very proud, and then she ditched me."

Paris, 05.01.99


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