After graduating from school I was left to fend for myself to try and get exhibitions. This is no easy task and a couple of factors led to my failure during these early years. One was that the only real images that I had of new work were of my previous installations which are difficult to comprehend, not very good photographs, and are useless in an art world driven by group shows and object based art; it’s very hard to convince people to give you a show where you are given the opportunity to build a full-fledged installation when nobody knows who you are. My interest in creating context based work also led me into making what I considered to be “un-impressive” art. This meant the continuation of the making of models as a form of art, the creation of quickly made drawings, various forms of propaganda material and a lot of digital based art.
One of the earliest things that I thought would help me to better contextualize the Associated Artists for Propaganda Research was the internet, which was still an Information Superhighway back then and still developing as a platform for critical discussion. I had already been aware of such groups as rtmark, The Yes Men and Critical Art Ensemble which used digital media as a new accessible from of distribution for social, political, economic and artistic critique. In 2001 I applied and received a grant from The Puffin Foundation to fund the creation of a website for the AAPR. (The Puffin Foundation also gave me a grant in 2005 for Epicenter City.) I quickly learned how to build websites and went through some experimental stages before settling on a format that I was happy with. I spent about a year working on it and made a lot of digital-only work to help fill in the categories.
The navigation was the most difficult thing to try and create since it involves needing to plan out ahead of time how the information is going to be accessed. I used some symbols that I found in an old modeling kit and used them to designate the different area that I wanted to explore; I used these on the homepage and again in the top left hand of each page that each symbol pertained to. On the homepage I also came up with a corporate logo for the AAPR. This was a a simple white box with an image of a corporate building in it and the name Associated Artists for Propaganda Research. (The corporate building is actually an image of a hospital from the side of a soap opera puzzle.) All of these images were scanned in and digitally cleaned up so that they could be used.
The information page introduces the AAPR and then has rollover images that give explanations of each category that is on the website and links to them. On this page I have timelines running: these were an early way of making simple animations by flipping through images to create the illusion of movement. When the user scrolled over an image it would start the animation and it would start scrolling through images. The top left scrolls through a series of black and white doubled “passport” photos with the eyes blacked out. These were presumably the members of the AAPR; four of them were anonymous photos and one was of me. The top right has an animation of a spinning communication disc from the top of a Lego police vehicle. This linked to the resources section which had separate categories and links for books, magazines, websites, organizations, favorites and contact information. The second row were links and explanations for the galleries section and the projects and subsidies page. The galleries page had sections separated by colors had a gallery for stickers and a gallery for posters, all with explanations. The Projects and Subsidies section featured small scale models as well as diagrams for the model parts as well as historical information for the project that the models were based on. The third row has a link on the left to a resume and a scrolling square on the right of corporate logos; when you scroll over the square it gives a statement about mass media conglomerates and when you click it it names a corporate giant and lists what they own while it scrolls through their corporate logos. The bottom left square is for Strategy is for Street Fighting (Coming Soon!) and the right side is for the Future Living Projects (a subsidiary of AAPR Project and also Coming Soon!) I haven’t made Strategy is for Street Fighting yet but have successfully been working on Future Living Projects.
I used this website for about 5 years before I decided to change it. One of the things that I failed to do was keep the original domain name at aapr.net; I let it lapse and couldn’t get the name back. At this point pretty much all domain names that use a simple combination of letters are taken in the hopes that someone will want it for a lot of money. Oh well.
Here are some screen shots of the first website.