Art’s Birthday/Gulf War Protest

“As the last in a series of events, we had arranged to connect by fax and videophone to over 20 different cities, including Amman, Jordan. Just before show-time, the Americans started the bombing of Baghdad and our party turned instantly into a protest. We found ourselves in possession of an international electronic network, just like CNN’s, with the important difference that ours was interactive. We were able to forward live images from Amman to other points on the network, who had also organized their own spontaneous protests. Symbolically, this event offered an alternative to the television viewer’s passive frustration.” – Hank Bull

Art’s Birthday is an annual event first proposed in 1963 by French artist Robert Filliou. He suggested that 1,000,000 years ago, there was no art. But one day, on the 17th of January to be precise, Art was born. According to Filliou, it happened when someone dropped a dry sponge into a bucket of water. Modest beginnings, but look at us now.

Filliou proposed a public holiday to celebrate the presence of art in our lives. In recent years, the idea has been taken up by a network of artists and friends around the world. Each year the Eternal Network evolves to include new partners who work with ideas of exchange and telecommunications-art.

Artists have celebrated Art’s Birthday with lavish parties and gatherings, correspondence and mail art, and through Telematic networks using Slow Scan TV, Videophones, music composed for telephone lines, modem-to-modem MIDI connections, early bulletin board and chat systems, and Internet streaming.

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