JODI, Joan Heemskerk, Dirk Paesmans My%Desktop 2002

  • Not on view

“You are very close to a person when you are on his desktop,” said Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans, who have worked together since the mid-1990s under the moniker JODI. Among the first artists to make art for the internet, they created cacophonous, browser-based work on their website

JODI recorded various versions of My%Desktop in front of live audiences, connecting their Macintosh to a camcorder and capturing their interactions with the user-friendly OS 9 operating system. The resulting “desktop performances,” as the artists call them, look at ways that seemingly rational computer systems may provoke irrational behavior in people, whether because they are overwhelmed by an onslaught of online data, or inspired by possibilities for play. What
appear to be computer glitches are actually the chaotic actions of a user. “The computer is a device to get into someone’s mind,” JODI explained, adding, “We put our own personality there.”

Gallery label from 2019
Additional text

The artist duo JODI made My%Desktop by connecting a computer to a camcorder and capturing the pair’s interactions with the Mac OS 9 desktop system and design. For this work, described by the artists as a “desktop performance,” JODI deliberately exploited the basic functions of the user-friendly interface, rendering them useless: files open at a maddening pace, hundreds of overlapping windows obscure one another, and a nerve-racking number of error messages appear. The resultant chaos, presented as four adjacent video projections and accompanied by a jarring cacophony of Mac alert sounds, might suggest that an anarchic virus has taken control of the computer, when in fact it is the product of frenzied choreography performed by the artists themselves. Through its destabilization of the operating system—a symbol of bureaucratic order in contemporary life—JODI’s intervention tests the limits of popular technology and a society driven by consumer-grade gadgets.

JODI first gained notoriety for its web-based works created in the mid-1990s, which exposed the chaotic, code-driven underbelly of websites as unintelligible, flickering amalgamations of text characters. Pieces like My%Desktop, which is the first in a body of work by JODI informally known as “screen grabs,” similarly turn systems of technological order against themselves, resulting in mesmerizing depictions of entropic digital landscapes.

Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
Four-channel video (color, sound)
20 min.
Committee on Media and Performance Art Funds
Object number
© 2024 JODI
Media and Performance

Installation views

We have identified these works in the following photos from our exhibition history.

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].