Michael van Eeden on 28 Jul 2000 08:21:14 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Interactive artwork in Dutch tunnel back on-line after 14 months in the dark!

Interactive artwork in Dutch tunnel back on-line after 14 months in the

On 1 May 1999, local councillors in the town of Leidschendam effectively
pulled the plug on the controversial Tunnel Journal artwork. They refused to
pay the power company until steps were taken to stop uncensored messages
reaching the Tunnel Journalšs electronic message board direct from the

The artwork was plunged into darkness only 6 weeks after it narrowly failed
to win the prestigious Rotterdam Design Prize, enjoying extensive press
coverage in the process. The New York Times praised the free-speech access
to the tunnel's 'light journal' which set it apart from its sanitised
counterparts in the Big Apple.

But on Thursday, 20 July 2000, after a lengthy censorship battle, the Tunnel
Journal sprang to life again. The revamped Tunnel Website, an integral part
of the project, was back on-line on Tuesday, 25 July 2000, allowing virtual
visitors to once again transmit their very own messages to the display that
forms the centrepiece of the artwork. The address is:

A brand new feature of the site is the DYNAMIC FILTER which allows visitors
to ban words from the electronic display for a limited period. The 'dirty'
words that appeared on the Tunnel Journal after its initial opening got the
local councillors at Leidschendam so worked up that they launched legal
proceedings to determine the "limits of public art". They took artist Hans
Muller to court, demanding that a filter be put in place banning a fixed
list of offensive terms from being displayed on the Tunnel Journal. Appalled
by this attempt at censorship, Mr Muller and Zwarts & Jansma Architects, the
designers of the tunnel, suggested a dynamic filter which would enable
visitors to the Tunnel Website to decide for themselves which words should
be banned from the Tunnel Journalšs electronic display.

The judge refrained from making a final ruling in the case, and suggested
that the two sides should first try to hammer out a compromise.
Leidschendamšs local councillors then initiated their own investigation that
dragged on for over a year, before eventually going along with the artist
and designers' initial proposal. All this time the power supply to the
Tunnel Journal remained dead.

Now that the interactive Tunnel Journal has been reborn, the makers are
doing more than just celebrating. The creative minds behind the Tunnel
Journal Website are now hard at work on a 'sister site' entitled De Dikke
Muller (Dutch only folks! Translates roughly as Mr Muller's Big Fat
Dictionary), detailing all the words that have been banished from public
view in the tunnel.

Regards from the coolest tunnel in the Netherlands! Let there be light!

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