Web Residency 2021

From the 12th of April until the 9th of May the ONB Labs launched a Web Residency for creative engagement with their digital datasets. We are honoured to now present the awarded work of Rosemary Lee in the frame of a virtual artspace.

How does data become information that we can read? What role do aesthetics play in the politics of viewership? How can papyrus scrolls, musical scores, historical postcards and other treasures buried in the ONB Labs archives be explored artistically and in a way that is meaningful to our contemporary moment of unrest?

Open Digital Libraries

By raising these provocative questions the ONB Labs invited artists to critically engage with and creatively re-use the ONB Labs digital datasets. As datasets we offer collections such as digitized historical postcards, papyri, historical newspapers, pamphlets of the 1848 revolution, music manuscripts, documents in Esperanto, as well as metadata information. The Web Residency was developed for the international project Open Digital Libraries, a cooperation between the National Library of the Netherlands, the National Library of Estonia and the Austrian National Library. The project is co-funded by the Creative Europe program. General aim of the project is to foster creative engagement with digital library holdings in new ways and new formats. Due to the current restrictions caused by the COVID 19 pandemic, we decided on a virtual format instead of physical exchange. We adopted the format of a Web Residency by announcing an award and reached out internationally for artists to hand in project outlines. The range of questions, methods and selection of data was unrestricted. The number of applications and their variety proved the spectrum of possible approaches to our digital datasets. In cooperation with the artist and educator Seth Weiner we chose the contribution of Rosemary Lee for the award. We are honoured to present her outstanding work!


Rosemary Lee's work relates the recent phenomenon of Cryptoart to a selection from the ONB Labs collection of digitized postcards. She reduced the digitized postcards to their shapes by extracting the image coordinates from the available metadata. She then combined a variation of static and moving shapes with text fragments from the internet relating to the concept of Cryptoart. To learn more about the artwork from the artist's point of view see the accompanying description to the artwork in the Artspace.


Within the frame of the Web Residency, the ONB Labs Artspace was developed, an online platform for the presentation of the work created in the course of the Web Residency. It is also intended to function as a virtual exhibition space for future projects at the ONB Labs. The conception and development of the Artspace took place in close cooperation with the artist and curator of the web residency. Its intention is to allow for an immersive experience of the art works. They should be given as much space as possible and the attention of the visitors should be distracted as little as possible by navigation elements. The Artspace is therefore marked purely by a narrow frame and the navigation has been restricted to a subtle point. Both elements, point and frame, react in their appearance to the content. The flexible area of the Artspace will be developed further for future projects and might change in its design for different contributions. As a space for artistic experiments with the digital holdings of the ONB Labs, it will be open to all users.


Curious? Do you want to engage with our collections and contribute to our virtual artspace or our topics? Feel free to contact us at labs@onb.ac.at.

ONB Labs is dedicated to experimentation and making its collections accessible for creative use. For previous examples of experiments working with the ONB Labs data see: https://labs.onb.ac.at/. The web residency programme is part of the international research project "Open Digital Libraries for Creative Use (ODL)", in collaboration with the national libraries of the Netherlands and Estonia. ODL is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

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