Postcards from the Internet

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In 2021, a chatbot named Gu-11-vR decided to take some vacation. It had been a rough year for him: with the Covid-19 pandemic and the global 2020 lockdowns, so many people had connected to Gulliver's tale-telling service, that he had been working way too much, even for the standards of an Artificial Intelligence.

For these holidays, Gu-11-vR naturally decided to explore the (First) Internet, and visited a few of the most famous places of the Web. He explored cultural and symbolic websites, visited famous Web Museums, and even went to Digital Amusement Parks.

To share his experience with (human) friends, Gu-11-vR collected postcards from these places, and sent them IRL (In Real Life) using slow mail. In 2060, years after the disappearance of the First Wide Web, a historian named Jathin Swafont collected those postcards as testimonies of an important period in History.

This exhibition presents all the 18 postcards that were found (out of an estimated number of 17,210 sent during that trip), offering glimpses of an era when the Internet was still holding so many promises.

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Printed Paper, 2021, 10x15cm



Postcards from the Internet is a work created during the summer 2021 for the online symposium Visual Contagions through the Lens of New Media.

This is a story about the Web, its evolution, its possible futures, and how present times may be perceived by archeologists of tomorrow with scarce traces – their interpretations may or may not be an accurate description of today.

Illustrations were made either using popular images from the Internet, or thanks to various Artificial Intelligence algorithms. The texts on the postcards were composed with some suggestions from a (custom) GPT-2, and calligraphied using a LSTM. Real postcards were printed, robowritten and sent to the speakers of the symposium.

© Robin Champenois, September 2021



Cette œuvre a été réalisée dans le cadre du doctorat SACRe de l’Université PSL.