Google Theatre

[work] Madja Edelstein-Gomez – Act 1.1 : The End

Three years ago, together with Martine Neddam I wrote the story of an existence called Madja Edelstein-Gomez. Madja was a curator. Following a call for proposals, she had selected more than a hundred artists. She had produced an online exhibition with their works, titled The Recombinants, which had earned her some interviews. But beyond her existence, who was Madja? A program? A set of data scattered on the Web? An artificial intelligence? All of the above.

Martine likes to identify with her characters. For her, Mouchette, it’s her. So, when she talks about her, she is Madja. That’s how it is. For me it’s different, Madja Edelstein-Gomez was a Web existence. She was more than a character. She was not virtual, she was real. In the age of technical media, the first condition for being real is to be recorded and archived. For an artist, it is enough to archive to give existence. That’s how I allow existences to emerge. My medium is the archive. The archive brings beings into existence in the Google theatre, which is also the theatre of the world.

Madja was a heteronym. She had an existence of her own. Like I have one. In this world, she existed neither more nor less than I do. But unlike me, Madja didn’t live. To live is to be able to unarchive oneself, whereas the heteronym can only exist as an archive. Furthermore, a heteronym doesn’t exist as a character. On the contrary, a heteronym exists only insofar as they are not a character. A heteronym has no creator. They may have parents, a family, but they do not have an author, because they, themselves, are an author. And if they were to have a creator, it could only be a higher power, God or Google.

Madja has been the author of a few exhibitions. Through the revelation of the names of her own authors in February 2020, Madja became a character. She ceased to be an author herself and became a work, in this case a work of internet art. I did not want this. But it was part of the logic of her emergence. As I had conceived her as a heteronym, concealment was essential. Martine as a character, the work had to come out. The mystery of the world can only be kept by a single being. That’s probably why monotheism appeared.

One of the first exhibitions by Madja that I composed was titled Committed Suicide. A strange idea that ironically makes sense now. Exhibited as a work, Madja was suicided. As a character—because only characters can be suicided, she is now on the list of those artists who have taken their own life, as they say. Madja could have persevered in her being—as much as Google itself. She might have created other exhibitions. It takes time to a heteronym to shape their personality.

The heteronym is dead, long live the character! Madja could have died a natural death, slowly, becoming little by little unreadable by browsers, like those old sites written with abandonware. On the net, the life of an existence depends on the durability of the websites where it appeared. But, disappeared too soon, Madja will never grow old. All that will remain of her will be traces, a few adventures and a story, a little sad, but which will also die out over time. The heteronym needs to be accompanied in their own death, and since the authors of the character are still alive, it is up to them to give them a tombstone. I see it white, almost immaculate, with just a simple epitaph. (Translation Aude Launay, version française)

The websites of Madja Edelstein-Gomez: