Ever wondered what the internet would look like stripped of all its content? In the hands of artist Rafaël Rozendaal, it looks a bit like a Piet Mondrian painting infused with a confetti-inspired color palette. Vivid blocks of kelly green, cobalt blue, and eye-popping magenta replace videos, text, images and ads—transforming busy websites into beautiful abstract art.
As a New York-based net artist who works mostly in programming and animation, Rozendaal is best known for creating web-based interactive artworks and selling the domain names to art collectors. Back in 2014, he created an endlessly entertaining Chrome extension called Abstract Browser. The plugin maintains the structure of a web page, but replaces the content with ten colors pulled from a preset palette. Rozendaal keeps an ongoing archive of his favorite screenshots—and this year, he brought a handful of those favorites into the physical world with a series of jacquard woven tapestries, now on view at the Steve Turner gallery in LA.
When deciding which of the pieces to reproduce physically, Rozendaal gravitated toward the websites that he uses daily. There’s a Gmail window transformed into glitchy, horizontal stripes, and a Tumblr page that becomes a series of blocks in varying sizes. The stacked columns of Pinterest and simple style of Instagram are both instantly recognizable, even with nothing on the page. It speaks not only to how much time we spend looking at these screens, but to the power of simple yet distinctive interface design.
While the new woven tapestries takes browser windows from screen to material object, Rozendaal has seen to it that traces of their digital history still remain. For one, he chose to weave the tapestries with the Jacquard loom, a mechanical loom that in the early 19th century revolutionized the textile industry and paved the way for modern computing with its programmable punch card. Each tapestry is woven with fibers that vary in hue, giving it a low-res, digital feel when seen up close. As Rozendaal tells The Creators Project: "My goal was to create colors that appear to vibrate because they are built up from smaller parts, like dithering in a .gif file."
Ultimately, what's great about these pieces—in both physical and digital form—is their quiet simplicity. Turns out, stripping the web of all its information can make it a pretty pleasant place.
[via The Creators Project]