Behind the Scenes of Internet Yami-ichi

Japanese artist duo exonemo, the brains behind “Internet Yami-Ichi,” a global, pop-up, “Internet-ish” festival, recently joined NEW INC as part of our second year cohort.  And they’ve got great timing—just a few days before the NYC debut of Internet Yami-Ichi, taking place this Saturday, September 12 from 12-8PM at Knockdown Center.  Inspired by the whims of the web-surfing experience, past Yami-Ichi have included stalls that sell the Cloud in the form of cotton candy, bottles of “MacBook Air,” and avant-garde interpretive performances by Internet Dude.  The New York gathering kicks off a month-long string of events that will see the cyber-themed market travel around the world, from São Paulo to Seoul.  

We had a chance to chat with exonomo and co-organizer Chris Romero about Internet Yami-Ichi.  Here’s what they have to say:

The Internet Yami-Ichi began in 2012 in Tokyo and quickly grew into a global underground art event. How did this happen?

The first two Internet Yami-Ichi events were in Tokyo. It began growing globally as people took interest in the concept and mission of the event. Vendors spread the word and different locations took notice, so we brought Internet Yami-Ichi to Berlin, Brussels, Amsterdam and New York.  It’s a light-hearted event that mixes a lot of different people together. We hope everyone feels welcome to join in.

What is unique about the Internet Art community in New York? What is the culture that is emerging?

New York's Internet Art community is growing, changing, and has a specific sense of humor whether it comes from PARTY creating things like Disco Dog or the way various artists are using the NewHive platform. New York is particularly unique because of its history and constantly evolving cultural scene, that you won’t always find in museums and galleries. Artists like Mark Napier or Yael Kanarek, have been working in New York and the Internet Art scene for some time, and helped make this all possible.  

It is hard to pinpoint the emerging culture because it is always changing. Our real lives and real cultures have merged with Internet culture. We are taking things back-and-forth from both places more freely now, to the point where we forget where each came from.

Internet Yami-Ichi does take on different flavors in different cities; for instance in Berlin many vendors sold things addressing issues of Internet privacy. We are excited to see what New York will bring forth.

We noticed that several NEW INC members are involved with this year’s festival: Rhizome, PARTY, NewHive and Babycastles. How did these collaborations form?

The event organizers, IDPW, exonemo, Chris Romero, and Eri Takane have a lot of friends in these different groups, and they are all interconnected by similar missions and communities.  New York is a messy place, so it is good to get a bunch of different people and groups involved.

Why is the online/offline community experience important to forming culture? What is the secret to creating experiences that bring people together in both spaces?

There isn't so much a secret to creating these types of experiences, as it is about genuinely wanting to bring people together to share what makes offline and/or online culture so special to their lives. Being funny, kitschy, and honest is something that adds to the experience, even though we are always working hard on the project. We also collaborate with participating vendors, and appreciate their help in spreading the word and inviting others to participate.

What are some of your favorite booths/items in the market?

This question comes up a lot!  There are many diverse and fun participants in each Yami-Ichi, so our answers always change. This year in New York, artist Faith Holland will use an air mattress to present fake 'Ookie' tattoos based off imagery from her work "Ookie Canvas.” Over the Opening will bring a tent and lawn chairs to sell works by various artists (this is exciting to us because the lawn chair is a very American symbol of flea markets). Annie Rose and Darla Bell will sell underwear used during long binge watching sessions of Netflix, an homage to Japanese otakus. There is a lot to see! We've been posting vendor wares on our Facebook event page as a preview.

Event Details:

Saturday September 12, 2015 from 12 to 8 PM

Knockdown Center

52-19 Flushing Ave, Maspeth, NY 11378