ScreenSaverGallery presents: The Limits of ScreenSavers_A SCRAVER AS A UNIQUE AND SHOCKING ART FORM

Posted on: December 2nd, 2021 by Mary Meixner No Comments

It has been eight years since the ScreenSaverGallery started exploring the waters of the computer screensaver as an artistic medium. The research not only happens during exhibitions in the gallery itself, but it has also taken on a more academic dimension.

The culmination of this research is the publication The Art of Screensaver (published by BUT & PAF), an exhibition Screensaver as a Unique and Shocking Artform curated for the Gallery XY in Olomouc, Czech Republic (Dec 13 2021 – Jan 31 2022), and two extensive ScreenSaverGallery exhibitions we have prepared for the year 2021: The First and Only Retrospective of Artistic Computer Screensavers (April–December 2021) and The Limits of ScreenSavers_A SCRAVER AS A UNIQUE AND SHOCKING ART FORM starting just now.[1]


The exhibition is an archival one and traces back the screensavers presented at 2000 exhibition Refresh: The Art of the Screen Saver, possibly (one of) the first exhibitions of artistic screen savers in an art institution, which was held between November 4 and 26, 2000 at Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, Stanford, California (as well as on-line at

Since most of the screensavers were due to software and technology development no longer functional, it would not be possible without some restoration work, financially supported by the statutory city of Brno, and fore and foremost without the original exhibition files still lying in the personal archive of Yael Kanarek, who designed the exhibition website back in 2000.


Three screensavers were not possible to reconstruct and are presented as still images. EveryImage by Alexander R. Galloway from 2000 was a server-based work, in real time pulling-in images from Rhizome’s database. cameraSS (2000) by duo Entropy8Zuper was an online performance containing live webcam stream, that would need to be re-performed. However, the age of the personal computer is already behind us and the context of using one’s computer is quite different today. SoftSub, 1999 screen saver by C5, was developed in the Mac Classic environment using Flash. These archival challenges are now being addressed by the San Jose University to include C5’s work in their permanent collection. 


Internet Archive capture from exhibition website, February 2001. Website design (c) Yael Kanarek, website framework (c) Intel Corporation.

Refresh: The Art of the Screen Saver

November 4–26, 2000, Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, Stanford, California; on-line at

Curated by James Buckhouse and Merrill Falkenberg.


List of artworks

Francis Alÿs: The Thief, 1999

James Buckhouse: Double, 2000

C5: SoftSub, 1999

Patty Chang: Contortionist, 2000 *

Content Provider: 3017, 2000

Miriam Dym: All-Spin, 2000 cameraSS, 2000

Chris Finley: Cherry Churnin Drool Mix, 2000

Alex Galloway: EveryImage, 2000

Peter Halley: Untitled, 2000

Jenny Holzer: Lustmord, 1996

Yael Kanarek: World of Awe, 2000

Tarikh Korula: Texas Moments, 2000

Glenn Ligon: White #14 Screen Saver, 2000

Greg Lynn: Plantoid, 2000

Greg Niemeyer: Survey, 2000

Paul Pfeiffer: John 3:16 Screen Saver, 2000

Matthew Ritchie: Untitled, 2000**

Mick & Ted Skolnick: The Dreamingmedia Screen Saver, 2000

Scott Snibbe: Emptiness is Form, 2000

PK Steffen: blue, 2000

Jason Spingarn-Koff: LifeSavers: Survival Tips for a Dangerous World, 2000

* as pointed out by the artist, the right title of the work is Contortion, however the 2000 exhibition introduces it as Contortionist
** Matthew Ritchie’s work has apparently never been introduced into the exhibition

Installation view of Refresh: The Art of the Screensaver on display from October 12–November 26, 2000 at the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Art at Stanford University. (c) Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University.

The curators divided the 22 screensavers into four main topics: Web-Based Screensaver (Entropy8zuper!, C5, Alexander Galloway, Content Provider, PK Steffen), Digital Video (Paul Pfeiffer, Patty Chang), Narrative (Yael Kanarek, Jason Spingarn-Koff, Tarikh Korula’s, James Buckhouse in Double) and Painting, Graphics and Animation (Glenn Ligon, Francis Alÿs, Chris Finley, Peter Halley, Miriam Dym and Matthew Ritchie).


Read the original curatorial text by James Buckhouse and Merrill Falkenberg from 2000 in Web Archive.


More about the exhibition can be discovered in the prepared book The Art of Screensaver (ed. Marie Meixnerová, BUT & PAF, Olomouc 2020–2). Preorder at



Many thanks to: Yael Kanarek, James Buckhouse, and respective authors of the screen savers.


Financially supported by the statutory city of Brno.

[1] Plus an international symposium The Art for Screensaver at PAF Olomouc (Festival of Film Animation and Contemporary Art) that was planned to take place at the beginning of December, however was postponed to 2022 due to the dismal Covid-19 situation in the Czech Republic.

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