Project History

“The Virtual Beret: Perceptions of the Artist in the Online World” is an Internet Art project that has been running since May 1994. It was started by sam e. smiley,  a media artist in Boston, Massachusetts. She went to various Usenet groups, and asked people to respond to these questions:

  1. Invent an Artist. This Artist can be a he, she, or it, working with any materials, in any medium, with an unlimited virtual budget.
  2. Describe the Art created by said Artist
  3. Describe said Artist’s Beret (hint: what is a Beret? In this case, an Artist’s Hat. What is the nature of this Artist’s Hat? What is the relation of the artist to said Hat?)

In August of 1994, smiley met up with web artist Patrick Jordan who saw this project in various Usenet groups, and offered to create the Virtual Beret Web site.To find out more about Usenet, you can read this article on Wikipedia:

The Virtual Beret project took many forms after that. Smiley worked with artist Matt McMakin to create a video table where people could create their custom “berets” by putting objects around the images of their heads at the Cambridge River Festival, in Cambridge Massachusetts. She collaborated various artists and art groups to pass out “Virtual Artist” questionaires where people would invented their artists. She worked with a group in Scotland to do an “exchange” of virtual artists, and she worked with colleagues to create an “invent a scientist” questionaire.

Today you are looking at a revamp and continuation of this conceptual art project. The Virtual Beret was also part of ENACT, an online exhibition based on another virtual exhibition of sorts, a catalog of artists works called “Art in the Mind”, created in 1970, and never enacted in physical space. Curators Ann Torke and Nanette Yannuzzi  invited several artists to participate in this exhibition, and The Virtual Beret project is proud to be a part of this.

You can see all the  work curated into ENACT here: