Jonathan Harris @ IDFA DOCLAB

Tonight, the 23rd of November, Jonathan Harris is speaking at IDFA DOCLAB. It will be at 8:00p.m. at De Brakke Grond, and the session is called “Jonathan Harris and the Slow Web”. So… what is it all about?

On the DOCLAB website we find the following introduction:”The Internet is like food. It’s easy to find fast and mass-produced junk, but much harder to find something truly special – or take the time to sit down and enjoy it when you’ve finally found it. That is why more and more web artists are embracing the concept of “The Slow Web.” Just like the Slow Food Movement did for food, this digital counterpart invites us to switch off our instant messages and take a moment to enjoy the web in full screen, as a place for art, reflection and stories that will still have meaning tomorrow. Some of the best examples of this can be found in the works of Jonathan Harris, one of the most important artists the Internet has known so far.”

So why should Jonathan have to add to the Slow Web? Well… his work is all about taking the time to explore ourselves… and the project he is presenting at IDFA, I love your work, was even asking people to pay 10$ to experience it (read my post about it here). So… did it work? How did people respond to such an attention of time and money in the world of the free web?

I asked a few questions to Jonathan before his evening talk:

SG: You have launched I love your work in May, so this is about 6 months ago. One of the innovative aspects of the project was the “pay to view” model, and I am curious to have some numbers about its first 6 months of life. How many people have viewed it so far and how long did they watch it for? Is this what you expected?

 JH: Around 650 people have purchased tickets, which is far fewer than I expected. But the average time people have been spending with the site is 3-5 hours, which is much longer than I expected. People are having deep experiences with the site, but then choosing not to share it — possibly because of the topic.

SG: Is there any pattern in the viewing numbers – exponential intake once launched, slow start but quick growth, steady viewing…?

JH: Within the first couple of days, the site sold out for about a month (~300 tickets sold very quickly).  Then, the numbers quickly dropped off, and now it’s just a trickle — most days, no one is viewing the project at all, which is disappointing.

SG: You launched “I love your work” by inviting people you knew to preview it. Looking back at it do you think this strategy has paid off?

JH: This strategy worked well to give the project an initial push, but very few of these people shared the project with their networks, so the ticket sales never really went more than one or two degrees of separation from me.

SG: What have you learned through this project that you think you’ll might use again in other projects to come?

JH: I think a big part of the project’s originality is its interactive interface, which is hidden unless you purchase a ticket.  I think I should have provided people with a way of previewing the full interface before purchasing a ticket.  I also think that, given a different topic, ticket sales may have been better.  But that’s hard to say — there is such a culture of “free” on the Internet, that it’s unclear whether people will pay to buy tickets for any digital experience — that’s still an open question.

SG: What are you working on at the moment? When are we meant to expect a new release from you?

JH: At the moment, I’m working on a small autobiographical project about being stuck, hopefully to be released in early 2014.


Thanks Jonathan, and good luck with your new project!

Sandra Gaudenzi