Jodi is Joan Heemskerk (*1968) and Dirk Paesmans (*1965), who live and work in Amsterdam and Barcelona. Jodi.org came online 1994 making them some of the first, and most widely known, net.artists around. Their work on the web is mostly ASCII-based, sporting a bold and rough look of machines, code and errors within it. This Jodi look and feel represents one of the very few truly original modes of graphic design on the Internet, making it instantaneously recognizable as their work. This is however not just a style, but an attempt at creating objects of art on the net using available media and modes of expressions. This act temporarily and instantaneously transforms your computer screen into a work of art when you display their work, as opposed to making it a media to display images of works of art.
A great deal of Jodi's work centers in on the interface of the computer or web browser, altering it in ways that renders it less useable or unusable. They have described it in interviews as a keen interest in the surface of the machine, and how easy it is to distort or break this surface. A lot of their earliest work dealt with the Macintosh, it's GUI and bits of bitmapped graphics within it, as a kind of deconstruction of the look of an operating system. Later work is more focused on disturbing whatever GUI the user has, becoming a distortion in the perception of the machine rather than a commentator on it.
Most GUIs opt for perceptual transparency, that is they should be self-explanatory and non-obtrusive - art by Jodi is the opposite; it's very opaque, and the (non-) GUI is often unusable, forcing us as viewer/participants to become aware of the interface/surface.
This play on collapsing the machine, and viewer experience, is closely related to artistic interventions like those performed by Fluxus or the Situationist International, a relation that is part of the explanation of why Jodi, and net.art in general, was very easily accepted by the established art scene. Jodi was one of the artists working with computer-based art that were shown at Documenta X 1997, (in Kassel Germany - curated by Catherine David), a show that became the beginning of the introduction of net.art to a wider audience.
http://jodi.org/ will redirect you to their latest project, one really never knows what to expect. Most of their earlier projects are still available:
http://asdfg.jodi.org/ best described as ASCII gone berserk; it's one of the aesthetically most pleasing jodi pieces around.
http://oss.jodi.org/ is an extension of the OSS/*** **** CD-rom project; keep watching the show for a few minutes and four great pieces of jodi software will begin to download: -OFFSCR, *** ****, My%20 and SCRRR#.
http://sod.jodi.org/ where you can download jodis black and white version of Wolfenstein 3D, and access the source code in full color.
http://www.wrongbrowser.com/ "This site is best viewed with the wrong browser", making a webbrowser as a piece of art.
You might get irritated or confused by what you see, please remember it is all about artists using your computer as a medium for their art. This is not art on the web, this is net.art. Some of the pieces do simulate crashes or breakdowns but as far as I know they are benign.
Tilman Baumgaertel has published a great interview with Jodi at rhizome.org; http://rhizome.org/object.rhiz?2550 (5.19.2001).