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Re: <nettime> Don't Call it Art: Ars Electronica 2003
philip pocock on Tue, 30 Sep 2003 21:35:28 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Don't Call it Art: Ars Electronica 2003

On Montag, Sep 22, 2003, at 20:34 Europe/Budapest, Lev Manovich wrote:

> Lev Manovich
> Don't Call it Art: Ars Electronica 2003
> In choosing CODE as its theme, Ars Electronica 2003 has capitalized on
> (some would say: appropriated) developments within the field of new 
> media
> art that already have been going on for a few years.

if the title isnt disparaging enough, the opener is certainly a 
put-down (some would say: sour grapes).

what a ridiculous inferrence, that recent developments are ineligible 
as a symposium theme. this in no way defends how ars electronica dealt 
with 'code' as 'the current hardcore language of culture'.

usually such events look back at recent developments to extract an 
appropriate theme. CODE certainly is appropriate. What is Soft Cinema, 
if not a superficial attempt to dig into what code is about, an attempt 
that veils the wizard behind the curtain in Oz. When open we see and 
hear Manovich, the GUI, pulling some levers to help the software along.

> As Andreas
> Broeckmann, the Artistic Director of the Transmediale festival 
> (Berlin),
> reminded the audience in his concluding presentation during the Ars
> Electronica symposium, already 5 years ago New York based artist John
> Simon suggested that it would be useful to treat software-based art as 
> a
> separate category.

there are several software art and network art platforms out there and 
discourse is aided not be segregating but by integrating. the main 
issue here is that few of the powers-that-be are far behind the 
aesthetics that code-based art opens. perhaps the most backward (some 
might say: modernistic, as opposed to modern) thesis stems from 
Manovich's misappropriation of current database-driven media in the 
'Language of New Media', there' a plug, some might title 'Language of 
Lost Media')

i was not able to attend ars this year, although Unmovie was there, 
somewhere. Still i hope that they were correcting the course which was 
sent ascew by the incredibly dumb misunderstanding of any 
differentiation between libraries, archives and databases that cause 
Manovich to call Dwiga Vertov an original database filmmaker. such 
tautologies drive Madison Avenue and CNN but it is the job of events 
such as ars to wipe the slate clean of self-serving histories like 
Manovich's, hopefully soon forgotten. this bok has caused me more 
problems with my media students who beleive that they must work like 
Manovich (equivalent to working like CNN, see my last mail to nettime 
on that) and i steer them far from that text so they might understand 
what a database and code can do other than Mondrianize a pre-recorded 
sound track with images, like MTV overlaying CNN, that is the message 
of database art in the future according to my reading of Manovich' 
pretentiously titled book.

was it sidelined in Ars E? is this the rationale for a long-winded mail 
  i am stoking?

ok, enough, in brief, i applaud CODE as an issue to be explored from an 
aesthetic point of view, and 'don't call it art' is a typical 
ideological stance, that ignores the poesis and architecture that code 
can share with many.

> Consequently, since 2001 the Transmediale festival
> competition has included "artistic software" as one of its categories, 
> and
> devoted a significant space to it in the festival's symposiums. Another
> important platform for presenting software art has become the Whitney
> Museum in New York and its Artport web site where curator Cristiane 
> Paul
> has organized a number of important exhibitions during the last few 
> years.

philip pocock
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