From the vault — January 2004 — Marina Zurkow’s new media

(In celebration of Artblog’s 10-year anniversary in 2013, we’re bringing you content from years past. Roberta reviewed the web artwork of Marina Zurkow in January 2004, and considered the experience of viewing art in private online! — the Artblog editors)

Thinking about web art this morning, I decided it was about time to check out the “New Directions in New Media” button at Inliquid. I knew none of the names of the artists listed, so chose one at random from Menu 3, Marina Zurkow. I’m always interested in work by women in what’s perceived as male-dominated fields (computers, animation, video).

Zurkow’s project “O-MATIC,” includes seven short animated videos, and some of them are stars.


The artist’s resume says she started out as an art director in horror movies and there’s a little bit of that weirdness in some of the work.

Zurkow collaborates with other artists, technicians and musicians in her work. Her aesthetic is mostly hand-drawn and hand-painted although some of the pieces use collage and what looks like cyber drawing. The imagery ranges from Monty Python does South Park (low production values, humor, some scatology and repeated choppy motions) to anime-inspired — invoking alien life forms and all things intergallactic and sci-fi. There is a sad, sweet tone to many of the pieces that I also bought into. And a minimal but sufficient audio or musical presence.

Best of all, I liked the pieces’ brevity. The shorter the better for this type of art, I think.


Not only that, but because of the episodic nature of the projects, there were many options, many buttons to try and basically, the viewer is the boss, driving the experience. I love that.

Dancing images from "Advent Moment" by Marina Zurkow.
Dancing images from “Advent Moment” by Marina Zurkow.

I looked at all nine, and my favorite was the one I picked first, at random, “Advent Moment,” a triptych of short, repeat-motion gif’s, made with what look like hand-drawn or painted cells. There’s some Hallmark card sweetness in the big mix of imagery (a dolphin jumping, a snowflake spinning). But there’s also more real-world stuff (a blinking eye, a person getting up from a couch) and some out and out unexpected (an airplane pilot seeing an apparition through his cabin window). (dancing images from “Advent Moment”)

This was a completely non-narrative piece where images cycled past with no apparent connection to each other. In its triptych of rotating imagery, it kind of mirrored a slot machine. I let myself get mesmerized with one triptych. It made for a kind of giddy, visual stagger, like a skip in a record that — if you’re in the right mood — can be soothing instead of annoying. But I also clicked through the piece quickly which made it more of a crazy, kaleidoscopic, merry-go-round. That was also good.

"Alien Sex," another Zurkow project.
“Alien Sex,” from another Zurkow project.

“Braingirl” and “Parthenogenesis,” which I also recommend, have more story-telling in them — and a completely different drawing style. Flat and cyber-drawn in affect, with a minimal pallete of red, black and white, the pieces felt like cartoons from a series, which, perhaps they are. (The image above is “Alien Sex” creatures, from some other Zurkow project.)

The number of web artist projects on the site is overwhelming –three menus full of names. But since I had such luck with this morning’s random selection, I’ll be back to sample more. In fact, if anyone wants to steer me to other URLs with good web art, I’m up for it. It’s a genre I believe in, and I’m quite interested in the experience of viewing art in private online. I’m not sure it’s good for art or not, but I’d like to do a quck immersion and think about it.