INTERVIEW - Cosmos Carl x Joe Rowley

The Exhibition is in Transit vol. 1 : Cosmos Carl

Joe Rowley : Cosmos Carl has been around for a good number of years now and felt like it was right there in the front of the pack in the resurgence of internet art in the 2010s. How did Cosmos Carl start? What was the impetus for the project?

Cosmos Carl : Initially we wanted to establish a project space in our shared flat in New Cross in London just across the street of Goldsmiths, where we were studying at the time. Soon into the process we decided to open an online project space for practical reasons.
We wanted to find a way of showing art with the least coding involved and out of this thinking the idea of only sharing hyperlinks to external platforms came into being. At first we did not find it significant but as the idea grew on us we started to appreciate the model for its simplicity and elegance.

JR : How do you think digital exhibition-making has developed as a field of practice since you started with Cosmos Carl?

CC : Nowadays it is more common to see works of art infiltrating existing commercial platforms than back in 2014 when we started Cosmos Carl. As online platforms have become an intricate part of our daily routines, their usage has become more diverse and in many ways misused for their intended purpose.

Pinned location “sighting” of an “Unrooted Flying Object” on Google Earth by Monica Mays

JR : What do you look for when selecting folks to work with as contributors?

CC : We generally reach out to people who we think can respond interestingly to the framework of Cosmos Carl. Sometimes based on their previous works incorporating online platforms. Sometimes we ask people from other continents to recommend artists to reach beyond our own knowledge of artists working today.

JR : Presumably, you have a predominantly digital relationship with many of the artists featured in the project, especially over the past 18 months. How do you build relationships and develop working practices with that in mind? Do you find it challenging?

CC : As Cosmos Carl has a relatively rapid programme of new upload every two weeks and is entirely commentary run, we try to keep the correspondence to a minimum. We ask the contributors to share a link to a work which is parasitically hosted in a commercial platform, write a short description of the work and send us some visual material for promoting on social media. We offer our feedback in the process if the contributor wishes for that.

JR : The motif of “parasite” is a notionally negative one, at least in a biological sense, however, when framed as “para-site”, as in a site besides, analogous to or parallel, feels way more generative and activistic. It's a super fun liminal linguistic space that I have always enjoyed about the project. How do you position yourself between these two possible definitions and how has that influenced the development of Cosmos Carl?

CC : Cosmos Carl lives in symbiosis with the platforms available on the web. It leaches onto platforms which in return gain visitors. The motif of the parasite has helped us with clarifying and communicating the curatorial framework of Cosmos Carl to the artists that we invite.

A series of “rooms” on linktree with various different videos in each hosted by YouTube by Beatriz Conefrey & Miguel Witzke Pereira

Hyperlink Soap on online marketplace Etsy by Jip van Steenis

JR : There is also something around the ethics of access in the various capitalist/consumer platforms that Cosmos Carl’s contributions inhabit that potentially becomes hard to navigate from a couple of perspectives. It feels simultaneously like a super exciting and effective way of reclaiming a digital commons but at the same time play into the hands of tech corporations in terms of the collection of user data. How do you deal with the situation of corporations like Google collecting the data of the audience as they visit the artworks and has this become a more prevalent concern in recent years?

CC : Cosmos Carl emerged as a non-commercial and non-profit online space for redirecting visitors to art. Our website does not harvest or sell data about the visitors, but leeches on to commercial platforms that are busy with this. However, these platforms do not have access to our collection of links. As a result, they have no access to the valuable data of individual users and they cannot group and profile our visitors. Our visitors are redirected traffic and do not necessarily behave like regular users of the platforms. Their data is therefore obscured and useless.

JR : What is your advice for folks initiating digital art/culture projects?

CC : Keep on leaching! :)



Cosmos Carl - Platform Parasite is an online platform that hosts nothing but links provided by artists, writers, thinkers and curators. Be it encrypted, inside an archive, available through open source software, live-streamed, downloadable, in a webshop, on the dark web, or on street view, the CC work, although on public display, is directly accessible through the hyperlinks displayed on the website.

CC encourages artists to reclaim (commercial) online platforms to produce and display their art. This means that the work is displayed on a website that is neither designed nor hosted by the artist.

The fact that the work is made on an existing online platform implies that visitors may stumble upon it, not necessarily viewing it as art.

Examples of platforms explored:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and many more.

* CC is run by Frederique Pisuisse & Saemundur Thor Helgason

** Typeface of CC: 'Cosmos Skrift' by Gnax Type

The Exhibition is in Transit vol.1 features contributions from Cédric Fauq, Cosmos Carl, Jaakko Pallasvuo, Jade Foster, Martí Manen, P*D*A*, Tal Gilad and Winnie Herbstein.

The Exhibition is in Transit vol.1 - in partnership with:


Reflecting on... "The Curatorial", Contact Zones and Rafts

Reflecting on... : Joe Rowley


Reflecting on... Community Cinema

Reflecting on... : Giulia Busetti


Reflecting on... Whiteness and Art

Reflecting on... : Hanna Skoglar


Reflecting on... Ukeles and Antibodies

Reflecting on... : Joe Rowley

Ephemeral Care focuses on ethics, practice and strategies in artist-led and self-organised projects.