Amir Esfahani is a practicing Bay Area artist, educator, and curator. Esfahani's role at the Internet Archive is to connect artist with our collections and to show what is possible when open access to information meets the arts. He is also the Director of Special Art Projects at the Internet Archive.
At Internet Archive we love to see how creative people can get with the material we make available online. As part of this year’s Public Domain Day celebration we asked the greater community to submit short films highlighting anything that was going to be made available in the Public Domain in 2023.
For the contest, vintage images and sounds were woven into creative films of 2-3 minutes. Many of the films were abstract while others educational, they all showcased the possibility when public domain materials are made openly available and accessible for download.
“The Internet Archive has spent 24 years collecting and archiving content from around the world…now is the time to see what people can do with it,” said Amir Saber Esfahani, director of special arts projects at the Internet Archive. He was an organizer and judge in the January short-film contest along with Yuanxiao Xu, who serves as Counsel at Creative Commons, and Rick Prelinger, who is an archivist and filmmaker, as well as a board member for the Internet Archive.
The judges reviewed 47 entries and chose a winner based on creativity, technique, engagement, and variety of 1925 content (including lists of all sources).
First Place: Echo Echo by Gnats Gonzales
Second Place: The Public Domain Race by José Domingues and Leonardo Domingues
Third Place: Seeing Cats by Alex T. Jacobs
There were so many amazing films that did not win the contest, so below are a selection of artists that we feel should get honorable mentions for their short films.
We are looking for artists of all levels to create and upload a short film of 2–3 minutes to the Internet Archive to help us celebrate Public Domain Day on 20 January 2023!
Public Domain Day is a celebration of all the rich materials that will be newly available to the public free of copyright restrictions. On January 1, 2023, most works published in 1927 will ascend into the Public Domain in the United States. We want artists to use this newly available content to create short films using resources from the Internet Archive’s collections from 1927.
The uploaded videos will be judged and prizes of up to $1500 awarded!! (Please see details below)
Winners will be announced and shown at the in-person Public Domain Day Celebration at the Internet Archive headquarters in San Francisco on 20 January 2023. All other participating videos will be added to a Public Domain Day Collection on archive.org and featured in a blog entry in January of 2023.
Here are a few examples of some of the materials that will become public domain on January 1, 2023:
Movies! E.g. Metropolis, The Jazz Singer, and The King of Kings
Possible themes include, but are not limited to:
The Best Things in Life Are Free
Sleuthing the Public Domain
What can 1927 teach us about 2023?
Make a 2–3 minute movie using at least one work published in 1927 that will become Public Domain on January 1 , 2023. This could be a poem, book, film, musical composition, painting, photograph or any other work that will become Public Domain next year. The more different PD materials you use, the better!
Note: If you have a resource from 1927 that is not available on archive.org, you may upload it and then use it in your submission. (Here is how to do that).
Your submission must have a soundtrack. It can be your own voiceover or performance of a public domain musical composition, or you may use public domain or CC0 sound recordings from sources like Openverse and the Free Music Archive.
Note: Sound recordings published before 1923 are in the public domain. Sound recordings published later than Jan 1, 1923 are NOT public domain, even if the underlying musical composition is, so watch out for this!
Mix and Mash content however you like, but note that ALL of your sources must be from the public domain. They do not all have to be from 1927. Remember, U.S. government works are public domain no matter when they are published. So feel free to use those NASA images! You may include your own original work if you put a CC0 license on it.
Add a personal touch, make it yours!
Keep the videos light hearted and fun! (It is a celebration after all!)
All submissions must be in by Midnight, 16 January 2023 (PST)
Link all your sourced materials from 1927 in the upload description
1st prize: $1500
2nd prize: $1000
3rd prize: $500
*All prizes sponsored by the Kahle/Austin Foundation
Judges will be looking for videos that are fun, interesting and use public domain materials, especially those from 1927. They will be shown at the in-person Public Domain Day party and should highlight the value of having cultural materials that can be reused, remixed, and re-contextualized for a new day. Winners’ pieces will be purchased with the prize money, and viewable on the Internet Archive under a Creative Commons license.
Amir Saber Esfahani (Director of Special Arts Projects, Internet Archive)
Rick Prelinger (Board Member, Internet Archive, Founder, Prelinger Archives)
SAN FRANCISCO – Hashimoto Contemporary is pleased to present Wild Animal, a solo exhibition by San Francisco-based artist Casey Gray, his third with the gallery. Utilizing his signature process of complex masking techniques and acrylic spray paint, the artist’s latest body of paintings, sculptures and works on paper are a meditation on the vibrancy of life as seen through the animal kingdom.
Drawing from his experience as a new father, and the chaotic stasis of the last two years to reconsider both subject and audience, Gray narrows his vision into a singular, charming topic; a colorful world of dynamic animals in action. Eight highly stylized portraits of solitary animals make up the majority of the show; Eagle, Bear, Horse, Tiger, Pelican, Crocodile, Trout and Duck. The figures are flat, graphic and modernist, painted with a variety of competing treatments and textures, and set amidst dreamy, gradient backgrounds.
Gray describes his inspiration for the work, “Raising a toddler has my life overrun with animal themes, from children’s books to toys, clothing, television, trips to the zoo. You name it, they’re everywhere. It was a natural evolution for me to move in this direction because animals seem to be everything I’m looking at, and simply put, I can’t separate my life from my work.”
The exhibition is a direct extension of the artist’s recent residency at The Internet Archive in San Francisco from 2020-2021. During his residency, Gray used the Archives’s vast magazine cover art collection as a source for representation, specifically focusing on the dramatic Adventure and Nature Magazine illustrations of the early 20th century. Gray re-contextualizes the animals from the covers, instead imagining them as plastic children’s toys, into two obsessively composed window box paintings central to the show. In the first, a meticulously rendered feral herd of mammals, snakes and birds intermix around a large bonsai tree with a heightened sense of alert. In the second, a school of fish, sharks and other aquatic creatures clash with a deep sea diver in a powerful fight for survival. Each layered still life arrangement offers a sense of excitement, bewilderment and sentimentality for the outdoors in their theatre and spectacle. The interactions the wildlife and their placement in space create a narrative tension that mirrors the emotional turmoil of this day and age.
Wild Animal will be on view February 5th – 26th with an opening reception on Saturday, February 5th from 1pm-7pm. For more information please contact gallery director Vanessa Indies at email@example.com.
As part of the Internet Archive’s 25th Anniversary celebration we asked artist LaTurbo Avedon to contemplate what the year 2046 and the future of the internet might look like through the lens of their own art practice.
LaTurbo Avedon introduces the work Hypertext Wishes, inviting viewers to follow a virtual token as it passes into a contemplative well of the Internet. Avedon has spent the past decade developing a body of work that illuminates the ever-growing intensity between users and virtual experiences, pursuing creative environments that deepen the meaning of memories found in the metaverse. They curate and design Panther Modern, a file-based exhibition space that encourages artists to create site-specific installations for the Internet.
Here is a clip from Hypertext Wishes, available for viewing at Internet Archive Headquarters:
LaTurbo Avedon is an avatar and artist, creating work that emphasizes the practice of non-physical identity and authorship. Their process of character creation continues through gaming, performance and exhibitions. Their work has appeared internationally, including The Whitney Museum (New York City). The Manchester International Festival (UK), Transmediale (Berlin), Haus der elektronischen Künste (Basel), HMVK (Dortmund), Barbican Center (London), Galeries Lafayette (Paris), and TRANSFER Gallery (New York).
As part of the Internet Archive’s 25th Anniversary celebration we asked artist Olia Lialina to contemplate what the year 2046 and the future of the internet might look like through the lens of her own art practice.
Olia Lialina’s artwork Perpetual Calendar builds upon the rich digital folklore tradition to start a day on your social network by wishing each other a good one in the form of an image, often animated, and most likely glittering. With https://haveagood.today/ you can go to the future and the past, checking what day of the week were you born, or on what day of the week New Year eve 2071 is going to be. At the same time you can see it as a flipping through of her archived collection of the graphics that represent an important layer of vernacular web. In the beginning of the century the tradition to wish a good (nice, great, sexy,…) Monday (Tuesday, Humpday,…) with a self made or found graphic replaced “Welcome to My Home Page” greetings and relieved the ever growing urge for updates.
Olia Lialina (b. 1971, Moscow) is among the best-known participants in the net.art scene of the 1990s – an early-days, network-based art pioneer. Her early work had a great impact on recognizing the Internet as a medium for artistic expression and storytelling. This century, her continuous and close attention to Internet architecture, ‘net.language’ and Web vernacular – in both artistic and publishing projects – has made her an important voice in contemporary art and new media theory. Lialina is a co-author of Digital Folklore Reader and keeper of One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age archive (together with Dragan ESpenschied). She is an Animated GIF model and professor for Art and Design Online at Merz Akademie in Stuttgart, Germany.
What remains of the initial hope that digitization and Internet technology can contribute to human emancipation and a more just future? Today, surveillance scandals, dominance by a few mega-corporations, and hollow egocentricity increasingly dominate our perception of the digital world. But these negative trends are challenged by independent actors who vehemently defend the early dream of a free Internet. I believe the Internet Archive is one of the important institutions in this fight.
Recently, we had the pleasure of hosting two amazing emerging artists who created a work of art with these ideals in mind. Thomas Georg Blank from Germany, and Işık Kaya from Turkey are an artistic duo who spent several days at our San Francisco headquarters creating their own archive of visual and sound recordings. Blank and Kaya bring together text, video, and audio fragments to form a composition showing that, in the right hands, the Internet does not have to become an instrument of surveillance and control, but, on the contrary, can be graceful and divine.
Their short film, When looking at stones i get sucked into deep time, when looking at my harddrive i’m afraid that it will break, poetically interprets the Internet Archive’s headquarters in San Francisco.
Here is the film, available here on archive.org and embedded below:
More About the Artists
Thomas Georg Blank, born 1990 in Germany, was first trained in cultural and media education focusing on photography before studying Visual Arts in Karlsruhe and Mexico City. He currently lives in Darmstadt and San Diego and has participated in exhibitions in galleries and museums, including Hek Basel, Historisches Museum Frankfurt, Kunsthalle Darmstadt, Blue Star Contemporary and C/O Berlin. His works won many awards and he has been a scholar of DAAD at Uinversity of California San Diego’s Center for Human Imagination.
Moving between research and speculative interpretations, Blank explores how spatial and habitual representations of individual and collective imagination affect the world we are living in, and vice versa. By creating multidirectional, spatial narratives he offers spectators a space to reconfigure and change of their perspectives.
Işık Kaya was born in Turkey and currently lives in the USA, where she is pursuing an MFA in Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego. In recent years, her work has been featured internationally in art institutions and was shortlisted and won awards in many competitions and festivals. She holds a BA degree in Photography and Videography from Bilgi University and had worked for major art galleries, museums, and publications in Istanbul before moving to California.
Space plays a crucial role in both the practice and thinking of Işık Kaya. Her lens-based practice explores the ways in which humans shape contemporary landscape. In her work, she focuses on traces of economic infrastructures to examine power dynamics in built environments. By framing her subjects exclusively at night, she accentuates the artificial and uncanny qualities of urban landscapes.
Artist Whitney Humphreys is collaborating with the Internet Archive and Tiny Splendor Press to produce 100 copies of a limited-edition zine. In the three-part zine titled Gendered Machines, Humpries uses digital artifacts discovered in the collections of the Internet Archive to explore physical objects that have been assigned a gender, exposing the assumptions and biases of these gender labels.
Printed at Tiny Splendor Press and designed using manipulated, found imagery sourced largely from media in the Internet Archive, the zines of Gendered Machines are both examinations and artifacts of knowledge production technologies. Possessing the capability to transfer between a digital and physical state, the zine format itself reflects the modes through which influential information is delivered and shared, as well as the liminal quality of the space between real and constructed existence.
In Humphreys’ project, Gendered Machines are defined as any non-human, mechanical objects that are associated with, signifiers of, or assigned a gender. Humphreys is intrigued by how this phenomenon manifests in both lived and fictional realities, revealing a typical polarization in these relationships. Society imposes on these objects labeling that reflects our limited understanding of gender. People create, use, and identify with these labels, designating things as either objects of service or of domination, worshiped or feared for the power they possess. This is a patriarchal oversimplification that her work seeks to complicate.
A web of representations produced through repeated narratives in fiction have linked how we understand both object-hood and person-hood. The project’s title likewise reflects the culturally constructed mechanisms through which we learn to identify. Just as an ideal femininity is socially invented to serve male desires, technological artifacts, tools and media have been built to fulfill the needs of the historically male-controlled landscape of invention. The interwoven histories of influence that are brought to light through this project are embedded in the computerized objects we use every day.
Gendered Machines is an extension of these findings, synthesized into the accessible framework of a set of zines. The volumes are focused within three scopes–Body, Voice, and Spirit—each acting as a nexus where patterns of signification are often located across time and media. Humphreys’ collection represents a variety of resources, influences, curiosities, and inspiration.
To receive a copy of the zines mailed to you (only 100 copies available) fill out the form below:
Whitney Humphreys is a San Francisco Bay Area artist and teacher and a recent graduate of San Francisco Art Institute’s Dual Degree program, earning an MFA in Studio Practice, with a focus in printmaking and sculptural installation. She also earned an MA in the History and Theory of Contemporary Art with her thesis titled, Gendered Machines. Culminating in a practice rooted deeply in the processes of research, her work addresses modes of knowledge production and representation that impact constructions of identity, examined through an Intersectional Feminist lens. She has exhibited throughout the Bay Area during her career as an artist, muralist, designer, maker, event coordinator, and instructor.
Tiny Splendor started in 2012 as a tiny collective, traveling around sharing friends’ artwork out of a small wooden fold-up gallery. Now they operate two separate studios, one in Berkeley and one in Los Angeles, providing print and publishing services to artists locally and from around the world. They continue to pursue self-publishing and a love of ink on paper, producing print editions, zines, books, apparel and more.
We are looking for artists of all levels to create and upload a short film of 2-3 minutes to the Internet Archive to help us celebrate Public Domain Day on December 17th!
Public Domain Day is a celebration of all the rich content that will be newly available to the public free of copyright restrictions from the year 1925. We want artists to use this newly available content to create short films that contain content from the archive’s collection from 1925. The uploaded videos will be judged and prizes of up to $1500 awarded!! (Please see details below)
Winners will be announced and shown at the virtual Public Domain Day Celebration on December 17th at 3pm Pacific (registration opens soon), and we will introduce the artists. All other participating videos will be added to a Public Domain Day Art Collection on archive.org and featured in a blog entry in January of 2021.
Here are a few examples of some of the rich content that is now available for you to use:
Link all your sourced materials from 1925 in the upload description
1st prize: $1500
2nd prize: $1000
3rd prize: $500
*All prizes sponsored by the Kahle/Austin Foundation
Judges will be looking for videos that are fun and interesting for showing at the Public Domain Day virtual party and that highlight the value of having cultural materials that can be reused, remixed, and re-contextualized for a new day. Winner’s pieces will be purchased with the prize money, and then put into public domain under a CC0 license.
Amir Saber Esfahani (Director of Special Arts Projects, Internet Archive)
Carrie Hott (Artist and Professor, University San Francisco)
Brewster Kahle (Founder, Digital Librarian, Internet Archive)
Rutgers University and Internet Archive have collaborated to create a limited edition series of risograph posters. Facilitated by Amir Esfahani, Director of Special Art Projects at the Internet Archive, and Mindy Seu, Assistant Professor of Design in the Mason Gross School of the Arts, 14 students in the course Design Practicum gathered unique collections on the Internet Archive and then adapted their findings into an 11×17 graphic. These were printed on a risograph by the Brooklyn-based studio TXT Books.
The first 40 people to sign up will receive a packet of these tabloid-size posters. Please sign up here! https://forms.gle/72sX8F8vM8sCBDwo6 (Please note: We can only provide shipment to people in the United States).
After World War II, many military Jeeps were left in the Philippines by U.S. troops. These Jeeps were decorated and modified to hold more passengers. Since then, Jeepneys have become the most popular form of transportation in the country. This collection showcases Jeepneys in the Philippines starting from the 1950s, exploring a visual history of this symbol of Filipino culture.
Chinese Calligraphers of the Tang Dynasty 618CE—907CE by Zhongxuan Lin
For this collection of comparisons between the USA’s and Japan’s box art for specific Nintendo games, it can be observed that the advent of global releases has removed much of the differences in box artwork with newer releases possessing nearly identical covers between the American and Japanese versions.
Souvenir Spoons Collected by The Fajardo-Reyes Family by Alexa Reyes
A growing collection of spoons gathered over several years by a first generation Filipino-American family from New Jersey. Each souvenir utensil has its own story, own memory, and own journey from traveling anywhere between across the country or across the ocean.
This collection was made to highlight the progression of graphic design on rap album covers. It begins in 1993, right in the middle of the golden era of rap, and extends to our current day. Two covers per year are shown in order of their appearance on the highest first-week sales charts.
The Double Bass Archives includes performances of classical compositions and each piece’s correlating sheet music. This collection acts as a resource, providing a deep dive into the sound, documentation, and physicality of the Double Bass.
This collection is meant to archive every single unique piece that comes from the Steven Universe Monopoly board game. These unique pieces can be used to traverse and visit iconic Steven Universe locations.
Horror Movie Posters of Dario Argento by Steve Tomori
This collection consists of horror movie posters from the director Dario Argento. It features Italian and American posters as well as some alternate versions. These movies were directed, and some even produced, by Dario Argento and span over decades.
Strobridge Lithographing Company’s Circus Posters — 1890s–1950s by Marinelle Manansala
Circus posters were created by Cincinnati’s Strobridge Lithographing Company, printed in the 1890s through the 1950s. These posters focus on attracting the audience by depicting the unusual main acts in a dynamic composition. By 1900, they were known as the “Tiffany of Printers” since they had become one of the largest and most popular printing companies in the United States.
A living collection of street art in the U.S.A. focused around the Coronavirus Pandemic. These works of art are often temporary, so I am attempting to document these murals as I see them, either in person or online. This is an ongoing project until the ‘pandemic’ is finally over.
The Internet Archive and Ever Gold [Projects] are pleased to announce part two of our Bay Area Visual Artist Exhibition Production Relief Grant: an online exhibition featuring the work of thirty grant finalists. From June 29 – July 18, the exhibition, featuring one artwork by each artist, will be on view via the Ever Gold [Projects] website.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fourth annual Internet Archive artist in residency exhibition was cancelled—along with so many other visual art exhibitions in the Bay Area and across the globe. This presented a serious challenge for emerging artists, who typically must pay for production expenses out of their own pocket when creating a body of work for exhibition in a gallery. With canceled exhibitions making it impossible to recoup these costs, along with drastically slowing art sales, many artists have struggled with lost revenues.
Applications were judged by Hilde Lynn Helphenstein (aka Jerry Gogosian), a curator and critic; Drew Bennett, artist and founder of the Facebook art program; Andrew McClintock of Ever Gold [Projects]; and Amir Esfahani of the Internet Archive.
The winning artists, whose work will be featured in the exhibition, are: