Acquisition Highlight: Eduardo Kac’s Tesão, 1986/2016


Digital & Electronic Art

Tesão by Eduardo Kac is an animation carried out in three acts that unfold to spell the artwork’s title, Portuguese slang for “horny.” Created when the artist was 24 years old, Tesão is a message to his then-girlfriend; the graffiti-like message also challenged the commercial and business applications of the network system. As a work of visual poetry and telecommunications art, Tesão extended what was expected and possible within Minitel.

Minitel was the world’s largest pre-internet networking service established in the mid-1980s and primarily based in France and Brazil, connecting twenty-five million users through their phone lines. Eduardo Kac was one of the first artists to create artwork designed, accessed and viewed within the Minitel. The terminal did not process data as modern computers do, but acted as a gateway to access information hosted on remote servers. Minitel terminals were offered to the public for free.

The Minitel network was dismantled in 2012, effectively destroying Tesão until a digital art preservation research team in Avignon, France, reconstructed Kac’s artwork to play as a video file, matching the color and rhythm of the original as a case study for a PhD dissertation.

Tesão is on view at Orange Door as part of the micro-exhibition, Life After MediaHours by appointment.