At flea markets, as well as on the Internet, there are accumulations of astonishing and useless things. Both flea markets and the Internet are fanatical and chaotic mixes of the amazing and useless, says the artist-collective IDPW, who initiated the Internet Yami-Ichi. Internet Yami-Ichi means Black Market in English and it’s a one-day flea market which deals “internet-ish” things, face-to-face, in actual space. Everything is allowed – as long as it is legal.
After bringing the market to Tokyo, Berlin, Brussels and Amsterdam, the Ars Electronica Festival 2015 in Linz will be the next station for this punk-capitalist intervention.You could also join the market and sell “internet-ish” things! But the number of participants is limited! Click here to register.
We talked about it with Yae Akaiwa and Kensuke Sembo, two members of the Japanese artist-collective or secret society IDPW.
Yae Akaiwa and Kensuke Sembo, you are part of the Japanese artist-collective or secret society called IDPW. Could you please tell us about IDPW? What does the name mean and why is it a secret society?
Yae Akaiwa: IDPW is a loose collective of about 10 members who, descend on various internet scenes from time to time. Originally we started anonymously because we wanted to do projects freely without being bound by our positions in society. The name IDPW came from I.D. and Password – affectionately known as “I pass” – which means you can connect anytime and anywhere if you have it.
Photocredit: Sebastiaan ter Burg
On your website you state: “Once upon a time, the Internet was supposed to be a place for “liberty”. Nowadays it’s so uptight.” What exactly does this mean and how do you think this will evolve in the future?
Yae Akaiwa: In the early days of the Internet, there was scant commercialism and the Internet was supposed to be a place for liberty. It was like a small village where people bartered things without money. There was something like autonomy and nobody exerted control there.
As the population of the Internet increased, big companies like Google, Apple and Facebook started controlling the network with their own rules. Privacy issues frequently occur and flame war happen often.
Some people feel it’s uptight. Therefore we started Yami-Ichi to drag the Internet-originated spirit out from the Internet. In the Yami-Ichi, we can see how the Internet changed our minds or how we value things. That might be a hint for our next step.
Yami-Ichi means black market in English and a black market is normally something illegal and forbidden. Why did you call the market Yami-Ichi? Does your market have something to do with illegal things?
Kensuke Sembo: The Japanese word “Yami-Ichi” translates directly into the English “black market”, though due to an emphasis created by mixing different Japanese writing systems the word “yami” takes on a double meaning of “sick for” or “addicted to. So a more accurate translation might be “Internet Obsessives Market”. This market doesn’t trade in dangerous or illegal goods. This black market is bright!
How did you get the idea of doing a market, where people can sell “internet-ish” things in the real world?
Kensuke Sembo: The basic idea of flea-market-style events came from the Japanese cultural flea market called “Comike.” Comike is a huge comic market which has been held twice a year since 1975. That’s a really big fan culture in Japan that people trade products from self-published comics to D. I. Y. products and it also involves non-product like Cosplay.
People take things from the digital world and transform them into physical objects to sell them on the market. Which ideas do people have? Which products and services have you been most excited about?
Yae Akaiwa: People sell not only physical objects transformed from the Internet but also data itself or rights to their activities on the Internet. For example, somebody sells the rights to be a friend on Facebook. The products sold at Yami-Ichi are very diverse and that’s the important point we think. We accept any product about which a vendor could clearly say: “It is related to the Internet.”
There’s a vendor named “Internet Dude” who performs like the Internet in real space. For example, he “follows” after somebody like following them on twitter and he shouts a phrase when somebody bought a “Real Retweet”. He always livens up the venue.
The Ars Electronica Festival 2015 is the next station. This year’s theme of the festival is Post City – Habitats for the 21st Century. Already today, online auctions are more popular than sales at traditional flea markets. Do you think that flea markets will become completely extinct sometime?
Kensuke Sembo: Yes, I think markets like a flea market in a physical space won’t be extinct in future. By holding the Internet Yami-Ichi in several countries, I could see differences which were caused by regional differences, even if we are connected through the Internet. We are still strongly bound by locations of presence. I think meeting a person face-to-face physically will have greater worth and be more important after online life is fulfilled.
IDPW (I.D. Password, affectionately known as “I pass”) is a loose collective of 10-some Japanese media artists operating under the slogan “a secret society on the internet that goes back more than 100 years”, who descend on various internet scenes from time to time. They are known for having produced the “Internet Yami-Ichi (Internet Black Market)”, “Whatever Button”, “Text Party” and other projects in monthly get-togethers. Among these, their “Whatever Button” won the “New Face” award at the 17th Japan Media Arts Festival, in 2012.
Sign up for the “Internet Black Market” on SAT September 5, 2015 at the PostCity, Linz to sell your own “internet-ish” things! The number of participants is limited! Click here to register.