By chance Tilson was shown the first web browser a month after the web was born.
In 1994 Tilson became the Erna Plachte artist in residence at the Ruskin School of Fine Art & Drawing, Oxford University – in The Laboratory, run by Paul Bonaventura and Stephen Farthing. He designed some of the first websites in Britain for himself and the college.The chance meeting occurred in the Oxford Science Park at the offices of Milo Hedge run by Alan Milosevic. Jake was looking for a company to collaborate with to make computer screen savers as artworks, extending his idea of publishing as art. They showed him the world wide web on the Mosaic 0.1 beta browser on a PC . The excitement that Milo Hedge had for this software and the world wide web was palpable and Tilson could instantly see the implications for his own work. They taught him how to programme HTML and also about servers and the broader issues of how the Internet works. They were good teachers. For the next seven years Jake devoted himself to working on the web, creating his pioneering and award winning website TheCooker.
Initially attracted to the world wide web as a form of publishing Tilson found it to be a new form of popular communication that could be hi-jacked for artistic ends. He spent much time working on the ideas behind ‘thecooker’ before the site went online, trying to explore possibilities and decide what it was that an artist might do with such a tool.
‘thecooker’ was made up from three ‘areas’:
1-‘here’: new works that require being on the internet to function, 2-‘there’: an area that contains information on current non-internet projects, 3-‘files’: an area listing previous projects. Since its initial phase Tilson has concentrated on producing work that makes use of the unique space on the web.
“Art has always hijacked evolving media and new spaces for its own ends. But unlike traditional broadcast media and other mainstream entertainment the Internet offers artists, and others, a real chance to communicate in a democratic way. You don't need a million dollar budget to build a website that will communicate to a large responsive audience. Artists that can connect the meaning and content of their work with this new medium are in a unique position of being able to talk directly with a wider audience - and have the audience talk back and interact with their work. As with other forms of popular distributed art it functions rather like dada, fluxus or activist art - there is no conspicuous consumption involved. Its an exciting place to make art for those artists who can make use of the Web's shifting parameters.”
“The web is a unique medium because the Internet occupies both public and private space at the same time. It has the benefits of the one-to-one experience of radio as well as the many-to-one and one-to many experience of online interactive lectures or online shopping. It mixes the boundaries between public spaces, personal spaces, retail spaces, exhibition spaces, broadcast media and printed matter. “
TheCooker was featured in many books, magazines and exhibitions on early development of the web and features in New Media in Late 20Century Art by Thames & Hudson.
Jake's London computer studio.
The actual computer in Oxford that hosted TheCooker.
Museo Internacionale de Electrografia, Cuence. Retrospective exhibtion of Tilson's work in 1997, including a live version of TheCooker
|Right place, right time,
right frame of mind.
Jake Tilson, Name Magazine