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The Internet’s Black Market Comes to London

Yami-Ichi is the market that’s perfect for net artists

Yami-Ichi is spreading, as the flea market geared towards Internet artists and enthusiasts alike comes to London this May 20th through to 22nd. From stone-mounted USB sticks, to selfie baseball caps, Yami-Ichi—or, the "Internet Black Market"—sees online and digital themes translated into physical work, put on sale in both a humorous celebration and critique of The Internet of Things.

“Lots of the ideas take the things that we don’t really pay attention to, such as browsers, and manifest it into a new aura,” says Nimrod Vardi, director and curator of London’s Arebyte Gallery, which recently ran a printed book exhibition based on Facebook material. “There are all sorts of really funny and whacky projects but it also makes you look at topics critically, like free Internet and free Internet access for everyone. It’s very sarcastic.”

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Considering anthropological aspects of virtual realities, browsingnoise.com is an archive of Internet field recordings produced by Tadeo Sendon for the London College of Communication's MA Sound Art show. (2011) Image courtesy of: Arebyte Gallery.

Teaming up with OffPrint London—an alternative publishing fair—Vardi has been gathering artists to add a digital Yami-Ichi aspect to the grassroots event. Athens-based artist Marios Athanasiou will be one of the many exhibiting.

“All of my work is usually digital,” he tells The Creators Project. “So it’s nice to be making an object for a change. For Yami-Ichi, I decided to ‘sell’ pieces of the primordial Internet, the Internet used on Earth by ancient civilizations thousands of years ago.”

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According to the work of Marios Athanasiou, ‘Pieces of this Primordial Internet have only just been excavated by Internet archeologists in sites around the world,’ created on 4 physical pieces of printed black glossy acrylic. 50.cm x 50cm. Image courtesy of: Arebyte Gallery.

Started in 2012 by artist collective IDPW—I.D. Password, or ‘I pass’—in Tokyo, Yami-Ichi is an open-sourced concept that has been replicated and revamped in cities across the globe, such as Berlin, Amsterdam and New York. Over email, IDPW member Akaiwa Yae tells The Creators Project that “anyone can organize and hold Yami-Ichi in their own city,” and that venues often takeover unique places like “someone’s office, a closed campus, old factory and on the street.”

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Net artists sell physical pieces of the Internet at Yami-Ichi in Tokyo.  

The event in London will be the first time Yami-Ichi has reached the British capital, hoping to draw a mixed crowd with its planned display at the Tate Modern.

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This piece of glitch knitting is the result of viewing binary data and translating it into a textile scarf. Design by J.Donaldson GLITCHAUS © 2015

“In the past, we met local communities in big cities and there were differences between them,” says Yae. “So I think there must be a community or scene in London with some differences. We think it's good to be involved in various situations, locations, or scale to see the potential of the Yami-Ichi and also the Internet IRL.”

Vardi agrees.

“There is something wrong about the way that some museums and big galleries look at digital nowadays,” he says. “Yami-Ichi looks at things differently, so I feel like having it at the Tate Modern will be an interesting combination. I’m looking forward to see how the London scene will develop through that.”

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Reimagining the Internet at Yami-Ichi in Tokyo.  

In collaboration with Offprint London, Yami-Ichi will be at the Tate Modern May 20 to May 22, 2016. See more here.

Want to organize your own Yami-Ichi? Check this out.

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