Vuk Ćosić (* 1966, Belgrad) found his path as an artist while engaging with the early internet in the 1990ies after having studied archaeology. Said to have coined the term 'net art', he is considered one of the pioneers of new media art from this early era (and calls himself a retired net artist!).
He gained international recognition through his work Documenta done for which he copied the official website of the DocumentaX in order to archive it and keep it live until today. For the Venice Bienial 2001, he was invited to the Slovenian Pavillion as an artist, however used this opportunity to invite his colleague net artists, thus presenting his own work in the larger context of this new genre.
With History Of Art For Airports Ćosić created a series of pictogramms similar to those found on toilet doors, but in this case quoting icons of art history and pop culture. For example Warhol's Campbell Soup or JODI's flickering screens are depicted in a way that they are immediately recognisable.
His interest in the intersection between text and computer code, in the archaeology of the media and in habits of perception also lead to his extensive period of reseach on ASCII-art. ASCII, the abbreviation for 'American Standard Code for Information Interchange', is a standardised character set that is more or less congruent with the characters on a keyboard and is constitutional for the basic processes of decoding in computing. ASCII-art refers to still or moving images that are composed purely out of that set of characters, arranged in a way that all graphic information is emulated through letters, numbers and other symbols. Vuk Ćosić's work in this field has helped establish ASCII-art as its own aesthetic genre. Since the 1990ies, Cosic has not only produced ASCII images, but also converted entire feature films - classics such as Star Trek and Psycho - into ASCII. Their emblematic visuals have sunk so deeply into our collective memory that they are easily recognisable even after the alienating effects of ASCII.
The artist describes his interest in low-tech aesthetics as follows:
„ [My] Works and experiments with ... ASCII ... are all directed towards conversions of contents between one media platform and an other, every time carefully directed at their full uselessness from the viewpoint of everyday high tech and all it's consequences. (…) My reaction to this is to look in the past and continue the upgrade of some marginalized or forgotten technology.“(see http://www.ljudmila.org/~vuk/ascii/vuk_eng.htm)
One of his most recent works is the File Extinguisher, an internet service allowing the user to destroy their data 'with absolute certainty'.
Next to his being an artist, Ćosić also works as a lecturer, author, curator and activist. He was co-founder of the Syndicate- and Nettime-Mailinglists as well as the Ljubljana Digital Media Labs. His work has been exhibited internationally, in the Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis; Kunsthalle Wien, ZKM Karlsruhe and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam amongst others.