In 1999 Antoni Abad (Lleida, 1956) launched the online art project Z: a digital fly that users can download onto their computers, and which then roams freely through their desktops whenever they are online. Z spreads through the net, creating a community of Internet users who are interconnected through their flies.
From September 2002 to January 2003, Abad’s flies parasitized the MACBA website.
Antoni Abad online project shown at the MACBA as part of the parasitization of the building, the collection, and the digital and analog networks of communication and information exchange that the museum uses.
Z is a freeware fly with variable behaviour patterns. Each fly is genetically unique and only lives when the PC it inhabits is on-line. Conceived as a virtual swarm, the flies are intended to multiply through the internet via free exchange between users. Individuals can communicate through channel Z according to different criteria: time zones, on-line flies, the community’s evolution graph, the swarm’s genealogical tree, language, etc. Z users can manipulate the behaviour and morphology of individual flies at Z.lab, the genetic laboratory. The resulting mutants can then be exchanged through channel Z. The aim of Z is to create a distributed communication network that is independent of any central server.
It is a piece which is conceived and created in order to intervene in human-computer communication processes, only when there is distributed communication. It is not exactly a work of net.art or a type of e-mail-art, although it can be spread as an e-mail attachment. Z.exe follows the logic of the virus quite closely without having its destructive effect. Basically it’s a parasite programme which sends and receives information to and from a server, thereby making everyone who installs it on their computer and then connects to the Internet into part of a community.