Talk to Me by Jonas Lund

Jonas Lund, Talk to Me, 2019. 36 volumes, 740 pages each, available in hardcover and softcover. Produced on the occasion of Hyperemployment. Book Design: Federico Antonini (; Editorial Advisory: Domenico Quaranta. Available here

On October 21, 2017, at 6:17 PM, Jonas reached out to me with a proposal: to turn his online piece, Talk to Me, launched a few months before, into a book. According to the official text, “Talk to Me is a conversational chatbot, […] trained and modelled on all previous instant message conversations (Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger) as typed by the artist himself to create a smart, machine-learned, automatically talking version of the artist.” But in reality, Jonas told me, “it’s just me typing the answers through a Telegram bot, so each time someone uses the website I get a message on my phone and I answer.”


Reading Group

“while there is no such thing as a “net artist”, in view of the fact that the web is not chosen as an exclusive medium, and indeed is often used on an occasional basis, when artists decide to produce a project on the net they undoubtedly have to tackle a series of prerogatives which are not secondary to the nature of the project, and it is true that many artists, setting aside all reservations, embrace these unconditionally, seeing them as an opportunity to strike a mortal blow to some of the dogmas of the art system. In the first place, working on the web means abandoning the notion of authorship, or at least continually having to renegotiate it; working with others, and leaving the user, or software to perform part of the creative process. Identity itself can be simulated or constructed. While the romantic legend of the artistic genius could have survived in certain conditions, the net sounded its death knell. […] The weakening of the notion of the author went hand in hand with that of the concept of artwork as fetish object. Digital data is replicable and always will be; information is by nature free. […] Lastly, the internet as a medium breaks down the art world’s traditional distinctions between roles: community practices, art as communication and dialogue, the use of a medium that is at once means of production, distribution, promotion, dialogue, consumption and critique, rehashes the mediating role played by institutions, critics and curators, and redistributes these roles between the artists and the public.”


Reading Group

“The artist figure that emerges from this picture is still firmly anchored to the romantic vision of the genius, obviously updated to today’s standards. Figures like Olafur Eliasson, who created waterfalls cascading down the struts of New York’s bridges, and Matthew Barney, who spent five years of his life producing an unprecedented cycle of films, conceived in its entirety as a sophisticated allegory of male genitalia, embody this idea to perfection. The romantic genius acquires celebrity status, and is required to be an excellent entrepreneur of him or herself: think of figures like Damien Hirst, Maurizio Cattelan and Francesco Vezzoli, and further back Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol. If we descend gradually from art’s lofty pinnacles into the complex, variegated fauna of artists, many of these aspects fade away, but the one constant, the one thing we always expect from an artist, is absolute devotion to a project, an idea.”