Rafaël Rozendaal (b. 1980, Netherlands) is Dutch-Brazilian artist who uses the internet as his canvas. Weavings and websites comprise Rozendaal's presentation in West Bund's ArtReview Asia Xian Chang, which features solo projects by artists from around the world, both inside the fair and spanning the entire space of the West Bund district.
Stretched like paintings, Rozendaal’s large-scale weavings derive from ‘Abstract Browsing,’ a Chrome extension designed by the artist. This free software plugin transforms content-filled web pages into vibrant, geometric patterns, devoid of information. The resulting non-arbitrary abstractions of well-known websites, like Google, Livedoor, and Reddit, simultaneously reveal unusual, unhuman compositions and the scaffolding of the web. Surfing the web is fast and fluid. Weaving is antithetically slow and process-based—what the artist describes as “mechanical painting.” Rozendaal selected weaving as the medium for these works because of the relationship between computer programming and the loom: The Jacquard Loom inspired Charles Babbage to incorporate perforated punch cards in his analytical engine. Thus, the loom could be considered the first computer.
Created continuously since 2002 Rozendaal's websites—now over a hundred of them—are individual works of art where the domain name serves as the title. Though collectors may buy his websites, Rozendaal stipulates that the sites must remain online, in public view, and the owner must renew the domain registration annually. “It's the virtual equivalent of owning a sculpture in a public park,” he says. “There's a point of pride of being the one who commissioned or paid for it. And the site still identifies the owner.” In 2011, Rozendaal published a freely accessible “Art Website Sales Contract” (www.artwebsitesalescontract.com). It is a document outlining the rights and duties of the artist and the collector, to ensure that the work remains intact as long as possible. It has been adopted by countless artists and collectors. In 2013, his website ifnoyes.com was the first website sold at auction. Rozendaal's websites attract 50 million visits per year.
His practice also consists of installations, lenticular paintings, tapestries, drawings, writings, lectures, and a podcast. He is the creator of BYOB (Bring Your Own Beamer), an open source DIY curatorial format. In February 2015, his work was presented in Times Square as a part of the Midnight Moment exhibition series, and in 2012, his website Much Better Than This was presented on the world's largest LED screen in Seoul Square. Recent exhibitions include the Centre Pompidou, Stedelijk Museum, NIMk Amsterdam, MU in Eindhoven, Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm, Casa França-Brasil in Rio de Janeiro, Valencia Biennial, and the Internet Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, as well as Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, where he curated an exhibition of screensavers.