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<nettime> googorama — and an article on a work based on google's streetv
Roberto Winter on Mon, 20 Oct 2008 13:52:21 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> googorama — and an article on a work based on google's streetview

Dear nettimers,

I recently finished translating the attached article and, considering it to
be relevant within nettime discussions, I post it here hoping to engage some
in the text's discussion(s).
It was originally a speech given by Tadeu Chiarelli (a Brazilian art critic
and curator) where he dealt with matters related (but not limited) to
contemporary art production, photography and the internet having as
reference "googorama" (suwud.com/googorama), which is a work by suwud (
suwud.com), a project I participate in.

All comments, critiques, reflections, opinions, etc are very welcome. (The
article can also be found as a PDF at

Best regards,


Seminários Internacionais Museu Vale III Edição
[Museu Vale's International Seminars 3rd Edition]
"... and why poets in indigent times?"
Table title: Why art? – March 2008

Why art today? The suwud inquiry.[1]
Tadeu Chiarelli[2] – 2008

Despite having enthusiastically accepted to participate in this 3rd edition
of the International Seminars, promoted by Museu Vale, the event's title
seemed odd since I sense in it a bit of hopelessness regarding art's current
situation. This feeling is made even stronger by the themes of each
discussion: "The indigence of our time" and "Why art today?". If these
themes were meant to mobilize debate, in my case the target was hit.

Having been a professor for almost three decades, it would be paradoxical if
I believed poets are useless, in indigent times, be they present or future.
If I believed in it, then there would be no reason to continue instructing
new generations of artists and art scholars and I would have already stopped
thinking about the artistic field, especially the Brazilian one.
Thus, as a response to the "provocations" incited by these Seminars I have
chosen as the object of this lecture the production of a young collective
from Sao Paulo, formed by three youngsters aged 23 to 24. That is why I
called my talk "Why art today? The suwud inquiry". I hope that this title
reveals that I don't see myself living in indigent times, despite all the
indigence around us all. I don't see myself in them because, working with
youngsters, and being by their side, the light that they radiate illuminates
my professional path, making me see less obscure perspectives for the

To contextualize this collective I shall consider some subjects regarding
art from the past few decades that are not yet very clear. This
contextualization, however, must not make one assume that by the end of this
speech the members of the collective should be raised to the level of
heroes. I am not enthusiastic about art writings devoted to artists'
glorification. Suwud is studied here as an evidence, among many, that while
my generation – and those before it –, discuss and get depressed – and
sometimes become desperate when facing the apparent chaos that surrounds us
–, young people throw themselves into the world trying to understand it and
transform it. In the vast field of contemporary art these youngsters keep
producing, and in this production, primarily non-conformist, reaffirm
crucial postures that make me believe in the relevance of art in our times.
At least in the kind of art that suwud and part of its generation produce.

Given these premises, I begin my talk.


The current art panorama presents two general trends: on one hand those
productions that insist on the uniqueness of the art object, the importance
of authorship – and hence all the institutional apparatus that surrounds
them (galleries, museums, collectors, etc); on the other hand, we have
productions that make a hodgepodge of these concepts so dear to western art,
diving more and more into areas that are further from any art concept
connected to the – still hegemonic – European aesthetic tradition that
formed us and, to a large extent, dismissing all the institutionalized
apparatus established by this tradition.

Despite my awareness of the prejudicial aspects of some arguments by authors
such as the Northern American Arthur Danto or the German Hans Belting[3], I
am inclined to agree with both when they substantiate the end of the
traditional western art concept. Both Danto and Belting attest this
situation after many authors – maybe with less power to spread their ideas –
have, decades ago, drawn attention to this fact. I am referring to the
Brazilian Mário Pedrosa[4] and to the Italian Giulio Carlo Argan[5] who, in
spite of not having explicitly declared "the end of art", had already
detected the collapse of the universalist's concept of western art.

When we consider these authors' ideas, we realize that what motivated them
to create these "finalist" concepts were artistic productions that, between
the 60s and 70s, de-structured those concepts so dear to western art, some
mentioned before (uniqueness of the art work, authorship, specificity of
language, etc.). These productions, destructive of these almost sacred
assumptions, elevated the common object to the condition of art, minimized
authorship and emphasized behavioral and theatrical matters related to
contemporary art. These authors, effectively compromised all of contemporary
art's basis.

Restricting the problem to Mário Pedrosa's contribution, we can say that,
considering propositions by Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Clark, he deduces that
it would be impossible to continue defining these and other artists
productions' framed by the parameters established by modern art (understood
as the continuation of the "grand" western art). Thus, by the early 70s, he
coins the term "postmodern" to identify and distinguish these artists'
proposals from modernist tradition.

If we compare the productions of Oiticica and Clark to those of other
Brazilian artists of the 60s, we realize that, due to their radicalism, they
complicated even further the premises that structured the concept of western
art. Both minimized, or even overcame the matters of the art object's
authorship and uniqueness, above all through the emphasis given on the
spectator's participation in their proposals. Another fundamental aspect is
that, in these proposals, precisely because of this emphasis on the old
spectator – now a 'participant' –, the art object, or the thing which could
be seen as such, ended up in a secondary role, merely 'relational', that is,
a simple instrument to establish the relationship between the individual –
the 'participant' –, and the other and the world of experience.

If we gather the parangolés and other proposals by Oiticica to the concept
of "relational objects" – term coined to understand certain objects used by
Clark in her proposals –, we will see that both her objects and Oiticica's
were nothing more than instruments without any cult value, and, thus, less
important than the individuals that used them to carry on the actions. The
objects used in their proposals were not intended to be perpetuated as works
that could be reduced to the condition of merchandise – a strike on all the
capitalistic art circuit[6].


References to the mentioned authors and to the productions of Oiticica and
Clark were established with one intention: begin to demonstrate that, from
the 60s up to now, the concept of art has become even more complex, opening
up unsuspected possibilities by that time. If in those years nearer the end
of the Second World War we saw the parameters of the "grand" western art
weaken, today we live in a situation where everything can be considered art.

Today, even those instruments created by Oiticica and Clark intended to
reduce the sacredness of the object, have already been absorbed as
"aesthetic" objects. Oiticica's parangolés and Clark's relational objects
certainly resist being absorbed as such. Removed of their original functions
and recently shown in glass and acrylic domes (or worse, in hangers!), they
bravely express a refusal to the market's aesthetic consumption. But the
market, much like Clark's and Oiticica's sidekicks, do not care about this
refusal, and absorb them without pity nor mercy.

After decades, the current art circuit wants to make us believe that
anything can be art, even those relational objects, originally thought as
proposals to deny the established concepts of art. From a painting framed in
the most strict modernist rigor to a pile of photographs sealed between
glass; from an intervention in a large city like Paris to an abstract
sculpture made from marble; from a delicate embroidery showing rape scenes
to an internet production, dealing with racial matters, and transmitted on
the internet itself, everything can be absorbed as art.


This situation has puzzled many scholars and, facing the endless
possibilities, many take refuge in one or another niche, not trying to
understand – not even partially –, what goes on in near niches and in the
countless cases of inter-contamination among them and among the conservative
or radical positions that infuse them.
Trapped in these little territories of specialty, most do not reflect, for
instance, on how newer generations position themselves face to the complex
scenario that they did not create, but confront and interact with, reaching
stimulating results a number of times.

To position suwud's actions, I do not intend to map the production of all
young artists, despite the fact that this text assumes that at least a part
of this generation will bring a novel focus to the field of art, especially
concerning the creative use of new technologies.

Setting out from conquests reached by artists that, in the 60s and 70s,
broke with museums' walls to realize their productions (associated with site
specifics) and with the dictatorship of the art object closed in itself
(associated with dematerialized conceptual art, mail art, and those who
started using cutting edge technology)[7], this new generation tends not to
produce more of what we understand as "art objects", but "situations", which
are hard to classify according to the parameters established by the
conventional artistic system.
However, even working on the borders of the established art circuit, their
productions update and, to my mind, can, finally, fire the mercy shot that
many artists connected to the vanguards and neo-vanguards wanted to direct
to the art object and its merchandise condition.

If in earlier times these attacks were little by little being neutralized by
the gradual recovery of these objects into the domains of established art,
"situations" such as some proposed by these artists, above all related to
the internet, seem to make impossible any future attempt to rescue them as
"art objects", in the traditional market sense.


Based on the multi-faceted character of the current artistic production
field, and mapping the arrival and institutionalization of a phenomenon
given by the merger of artistic production and new technologies for the
production/distribution of images, this text will consider suwud's practices
on the internet, from the perspective that the collective produces
alternatives for the creative use and at the same time critical of this
tool. More specifically, the aim here is to discuss one of its productions
conceived and distributed over the internet: Googorama[8].

Not too long ago, Google, the owner of softwares such as Google Earth, added
to their webservice 'Google Maps' a new functionality called Street View. It
consists in the photographic documentation of (until now) a few
North-American cities, made through the use of cars that, on their hoods,
carry a device containing a number of cameras that, while the vehicle moves
around the city streets, automatically document every aspect of the streets,
avenues, squares, alleys and, even, passers-by, without any direct human
intervention. Both Google Earth and Street View are explicit exercises in
vigilance that, despite that, are "sold" to internet users as another
address finding service. Despite this strategy of presenting themselves as a
pacific service, they emanate an undisguisable totalitarian aspect.

Through the appropriation of images from San Francisco, USA, suwud created a
virtual portfolio containing 18 images.

The images' appropriation and the portfolio's configuration clarify a
typical characteristic of all the images chosen by the collective and all of
the other images contained in the website in question: they obey the
aesthetic patterns of modern photography's tradition connected to a genre of
straight photography[9], known as street photography[10].

Once the portfolio was ready, it spread on the internet, where it gained
certain resonance in photography discussion forums.

I focus on this work for two reasons: first, because it is of my interest to
understand how this collective can bring about, comment and de-structure
matters so dear to modern art (and still very present in the
institutionalized universes of art and fine art photography) – authorship,
the gaze of the artist, the importance of craftsmanship in art, etc –,
reutilizing strategies that are esteemed to certain past century art
movements. I refer to some strategies that are typical of dada and neodada,
such as the principles of appropriation and displacement, which corrupt the
order of art's hegemonic discourse, demonstrating how it can be understood
as an authorities' discourse manifestation.

Many will claim that the strategies used by suwud have already been
recovered and institutionalized in post-war art. Even I have drawn attention
here on how Oiticica's and Clark's proposals have been avidly absorbed by
the market. However, I would like to draw attention to a fact that, from my
perspective, is crucial, since it brings a new relevance to the use of these
strategies in the contemporary scene: originated, developed and disclosed on
the internet, Googorama gives new force to the critical strategies inherited
from dada and neodada, precisely because of the difficulty, or even the
impossibility of reducing this proposal to the quality of object and,
therefore, merchandise – a process that encompassed dada photo manipulations
and Lygia Clark's relational objects, just to mention two examples.

Secondly, I am interested in the collective's proposal for the following:
Googorama, comprised only of information, with no material existence, when
distributed over the internet, immediately becomes a source for debate; the
result of these initial receptions becomes new information that couples to
suwud's original proposal, which immediately will receive more information,
also added to the ones before, and then adding another, and another, and so

We can understand, through Googorama, that thinking art as information on
the internet, is to experience in "real-time" what, a few years ago, Giulio
Carlo Argan wrote about the fact that an artwork is its reality and
everything that all generations have thought about it throughout
history[11]. In an accelerated time such as the one in which we live today,
works that no longer possess material support – comprised solely of
information in an ongoing transformation process –, update the Italian
scholar's definition.

These new works configure a challenge to all who, coming from a formal
tradition in the field of art history, face these new possibilities on
thinking art.


There are two kinds of professionals working with recent image
production/broadcasting technologies. There are those whose discussions do
not show a thorough interaction with the technologies they explore, so to
speak. It is as if they operated "from the outside", always far from a
complete connection with these machines.

Many of these artists still aim at clarifying the "aesthetic potentials" of
these new tools as if they were new, but as traditional artistic modes
(which would thicken the traditional group leaded by drawing, painting,
sculpture...) and their productions have difficulty escaping the universe of
clarification or illustration of certain effects, of these new media's
"expressive" character, pointing at what can be artistically added to art's
already stereotyped universe.

Further from these production which already configure a certain kind of
"tradition" – already established by the institutional apparatus into which
many of them are produced –, there is a second group of producers which
brings out other matters to thinking art today, having new technologies as
an interest.

Composed mostly by young artists, what sets this group apart is the fact
that their members have practically been born already using these new
instruments. Since they were children these devices have been a part of
their lives, and handling them, in many cases, was part of learning and
acquiring the most general codes to communicate with the world.
The dissemination of cell phones, digital cameras, internet, and other
tools, found many producers who were already socially established and
recognized as artists, which led them, many times, to initially explore the
"aesthetic potentials" of these new devices, even before they were a real
part of their daily lives.

For a youngster, however, using a camera, taking pictures with a cell phone
or browsing the web never had the same weight that it had to their
predecessors. Before entering the field of creative explorations known as
"art", these activities helped them understanding the world and interacting
with it. This familiarity enabled, or have been enabling that, in many
cases, these youngster's production is articulated with a surprising degree
of intimacy between user and machine, in the same natural way with which
artists in the past used the pencil to draw.


What is noticeable in a significant part of these new generations'
productions is, in the first place, the loss of interest in the need to
reveal or analyze the "expressive" possibilities of these new media. Simply
by not thinking from an exclusively traditional "artistic" perspective
anymore – which would only be concerned with the formal integrity of the
"finished" artwork – and much more concerned with the informational
potential and critiques of their activities, these youngsters are looking
for other problems to explore.

In their productions they clearly investigate the semantic and syntactic
potential of these new technologies, but these questionings are always
carried out in layers, since the use of a certain information production
method (say photography) comes across, and usually penetrates, others (for
instance the possibility of coupling sound to photographs), due to the
hybridization that joins them. Considering that the goal is not the
production of a merely analytical work, typical of the modernism concerned
solely with form, explorations tend to happen more freely, without the
intent of making "art", in the traditional sense of the term.


Created in late 2005, suwud is composed by two physicists who are USP
graduates ("Universidade de São Paulo") and by a student of the
"Departamento de Artes Plásticas" of the "Escola de Comunicações e Artes" in
the same university[12]. All three have varied interests that range from
software programming to theater lighting, passing through philosophy, arts,
woodwork, photography and other areas.

The collective is not characterized solely by works made for the internet,
or other "immaterial" media (such as video, for instance), its interest in
actions that involve interventions in real spaces is noteworthy, by creating
specific places/situations, in which the public's participation is

Among these activities, I'd like to draw attention to a series of works –
called Structures: Passarela [Walkway], Torre [Tower], Hotel Laboratório
[Laboratory Hotel] e Ponte [Bridge] – in which suwud builds a kind of
ladder-tower that molds itself to the spaces where it is built and then
taken apart, and relies on the involvement of both the public and
In this same universe, in November 2007 the collective presented, at an
exhibition at Galeria Emma Thomas, an 'activity' called "Fato 1": suwud
tattooed a tiny black spot on 49 volunteers, the body part where the tattoo
was made was chosen by the person being tattooed. After the action, the
collective distributed to each participant a document containing a schematic
view of the front and back of a human body, with a mark on the spot where
that person's tattoo was made. According to one of the group's component:
"That was fact "1". We intend to make a series of facts, all different.
Thus, tattooing people is not the main subject of this work (other ideas for
future "facts" are: meditation, barbecue, fighting, etc.). We don't consider
this works as a performance [in the traditional sense] since what interests
us is not the act of, for instance, tattooing 49 people; but the condition
of the fact always existing in the past. Therefore, the proposal of creating
a fact is paradoxical, since when we are performing the action the fact does
not yet exist; and when the action is over, the fact is already memory.
Maybe making facts is making memories. It is a work that only exists in the
participant's memory, or in the document. The document also serves to
validate and prove that the participant's memory is real."[13]

All of these actions are recorded in video by the collective itself, which –
seen as raw material – may or may not be developed into specific editions,
with a certain transcendence of the condition of mere register of the
actions, to be seen as autonomous works[14].

Parallel to that, suwud also produced videos from ideas/scripts without any
proper documental basis, which can be shown on the internet or in
installations at conventional exhibition spaces.


Therefore it is in this varied field of activities that the collective's
interventions on the internet can be framed, starting by the group's very
site – suwud.com.

Suwud's interest on the internet, as expressed by one of its components, did
not arise from a specific desire to make something such as web art or "art
via internet". The relation that this generation's producers establish with
these media, as mentioned before, possesses a "naturalness" that is hard to
verify on older artists' productions. About this subject, one of the
collective's members says:
"Regarding suwud, I believe that our own histories are very indicative of
the reason why we are interested in these technologies. Ricardo, and myself
other than, of course, having been exposed to them a lot in college,
[Roberto Winter and Ricardo Birmann studied physics at USP] had already
great contact with computers since childhood. My parents are professors at
USP and because of that (I believe) I had access to computers, internet and
all these things from a very early age (the first webpage I created was in
1996, which amazes even me when I think of it). Ricardo had great interest
in programming, which was greatly motivated by his mother (as far as I know)
since before he entered high school. Pedro, simply for being in touch with
Ricardo [Pedro and Ricardo are brothers] I'd also risk saying that was
interested in these subjects very early. I think that, because of all this,
we are not concerned in, for example, "making a work that deals with the
internet" or something like that, it happens naturally because we are
immersed in this environment".[15]

For a collective that, as I have already mentioned, manifests through
several media, the issue of media specificity (still from a modernist
perspective) is not contained amongst their main concerns, even though it
appears as a certain "residue" in the conception/making of the works.
Encouraged to answer about the fact that suwud is concerned with this
matter, the same component answers:
"I believe the answer is, at the same time, yes and no. That is, we are not
concerned about exploring the 'specificities' of a media since,
primordially, it interests us (suwud) the specificity that things have in
themselves and not specificity as that modernist program of exploration of a
characteristic through an insistence in it (such as, for instance, a
collection of works all devoted to comprehending the "canvas's surface").
I'll try to make it clearer with an example: in Structures we are not
interested in showing or clarifying characteristics (specificities)
regarding "structures", but the specificities of that structure (which is
there, installed in front of you, through which your body moves, etc.). I
think that in this sense, this specificity also contains the modernist one.
It is as if it came attached to it and that is why I'd say "yes, we are,
inevitably, concerned in exploring the media's specificities": when we show
a structure whose interest is the structure itself we end up relating to
aspects of "structures"."[16]

When it comes to the use of the internet, the problematic of specificities
gains countless critical possibilities, due to, mostly, the hybrid character
of the media. At least theoretically, the internet compels those who operate
it to confront with several "specificities" (that of photography, video,
text, etc.), articulating simultaneous joint and/or sequential operations to
reach – or find! – their objectives. However, to this new generation of
artists – or at least to suwud's components –, the main aspect regarding
internet works is not this kind of specificity (despite its existence). What
seems to interest them is the specificity of information that manifests
through the mean with which the collective operates.

According to one of its components:
"Technology crates new problems to be faced. I think that our works explore
some specificities of more basic things. For instance, communication,
instead of communication devices. Technology usually just facilitates
certain procedures that existed prior. A saw and a circular saw do the same
thing, despite the fact that one is capable of cutting much faster than the
other. Thus, it seems to me that the differences between technologies, which
can be understood as each one's specificities, are rarely disclosed.
Going back to my example: a saw's movement is back and forth, but a circular
saw's movement is circular. These functional details diverge from the
mechanical perspective, but produce similar results. It is possible to deal
with technology's specificity in this framework, but I believe suwud deals
more with the result produced by a tool than with mechanic details. And this
is maybe due to the fact that we have a certain intimacy with the tools we
work with".[17]

About Googorama, the collective's components also have a peculiar point of
view, seemingly unconcerned with whether it is or not considered netart or
even "art":
"... when we created it, the intention we had was simply revealing what
Google StreetView was. And, by selecting some images, and grouping them it
was possible to understand better what it was we were browsing, these very
odd world of photographs. Google StreetView is a giant 3 dimensional
photograph. Something totally new and incredible. Our initial intention was
simply showing, understanding and discussing what that was which was in
front of us. This maybe is a fundamental suwud characteristic. Most of the
time we are only trying to understand things around us, without adding
complexity to the enormous chaos that the world already is."

In another statement, the same component again manifests about Googorama:
"Making a photograph of a photo is a particularly interesting procedure. The
redundant gesture of taking a photograph of a photo empties the original
visual meaning of the photo. The difference between the two photos is that
one had the trouble of concerning itself with light, angle, framing, speed,
etc. and the other simply appropriated the first. The important for the
second photo is that it has appropriated itself of the first independently
of the visual meaning present in it. Thus, the second photo is empty of
visual meaning. The interesting thing about the second photograph is its
mechanism of appropriation.
In Googorama a perversion of this mechanism that I presented occurs. The
pictures that make the world of StreetView are blind photographs; there was
no one looking behind the lenses, looking and choosing what was being
photographed, that is, they are empty of meaning. And, in the case of the
second photo, which should empty the visual meaning of the first, we are
[suwud] choosing which is the best angle and the best subject for it, in a
certain way, adding a visual value to what was empty before."

This seemingly cold attitude towards Google StreetView, cannot hide the
collective's critical posture. After all, they, after selecting the 18
images captured in the website, choosing those with "the best angle and the
best subject", almost "give back" to those photos which were created blindly
(to carry on with the collective's component metaphor) a "visual value" lost
by the very making process of Google StreetView.

The critical character of this attitude is evidenced, in the first place,
when the collective declares that Googorama was their entry to "Prêmio Porto
Seguro de Fotografia 2007"[18] in a category called "Recent Researches".
Sending Googorama to "Prêmio Porto Seguro" – an award that usually
celebrates traditional photography's persistence in Brazil – can be
understood as another of the group's provocative actions – fact "2"? –, more
so than, in fact, as a desire to run for the prize. After all, suwud, by
evidencing characteristics typical of street photography (and, therefore,
"straight photography") in photos captured from a website with "blind"
photos, evidences, or bares the fragility of modernly oriented photography
discourse, led by the rhetoric of "the photographic gaze", the "decisive
moment", etc.

It comes as no surprise that the Award's jury ignored the collective's

Googorama's negative reception by "Prêmio Porto Seguro de Fotografia 2007"
indicates the resistance of certain sectors related to photography in facing
attitudes that question modern photography tradition's deeply rooted

The reception Googorama had in some sites and blogs on the internet, also
dedicated to photography or webart, wasn't very different. However,
Googorama, in these cases, was not simply ignored. On the contrary, at least
in three of these spaces – a blog called monochrom (
http://monochrom.at/english/2007/07/googorama.htm) and the sites photosig (
and photo.net (http://photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=00LzqU) -
Googorama's portfolio generated debate and controversy. The participants of
these forums where not indifferent, or did not ignore the provocations made
by suwud to modern photography's tradition.

Reading the debates generated after these forums participants' visited
Googorama, shows how much several of the principles that structure modern
photography's rhetoric are still alive, despite all the discussions that,
decades ago, have been carried out on the subject. It is also noticeable the
durability, among these virtual spaces of discussion, of traditional
conceptions related to art, the artist, the art work, etc., demonstrating
that there remains a lot to be done, if the goal is the problematization and
overcoming these traditional concepts.


I believe that is in place now to inquire into Googorama's very structure so
that we can clear up some questions that, probably lead, both Prêmio Porto
Seguro and aforementioned forums debaters', to receive Googorama negatively.

In one of the statements quoted above, one of the collective's member shows
that, by appropriating Google StreetView's photographs, the collective gives
"visual value" to "blind photographs" from the North-American website. The
question to be put forward here is: (from) where does the "visual value"
inserted into these photographs come from?

Suwud, by selecting some of the site's countless photographs to produce
Googorama, shows everyone that, despite them being apparently blind, these
images can be seen as "authorial", as results of a unique regard towards
real. After all, some "unusual" shots, some original points of view can be
noticed in them, denouncing an "eye" that controlled the capturing

However, when it is evidenced that the origin of these images is Google
StreetView and that, therefore, they were not captured by any human eye, by
no sensitive and creative gaze that was considering the "decisive moment",
the collective evidences that the whole of street photography's rhetoric –
which is, as seen before, a subgroup of straight photography and, therefore,
a considerable part of modern photography – can be found within the camera's
own mechanism.

To think that some of those shots, interesting precisely for their unusual
framing, were captured by an ordinary machine on top of an automobile,
effectively causes discomfort. Facing what is revealed by the collective,
therefore, at least two actions are possible: ignoring the provocation or
denying it in favor of supposedly higher values such as the "photographic
gaze", "human creativity" and others.

Actually, suwud shows in practice, what philosopher Vilén Flusser had
already brought up in the theoretical plane: the photographer photographs
what is photographable, that which is already beforehand programmed by the
photographic apparatus as a photographic "as yet to be":
"If we consider the photographic apparatus [...] we will notice that "being
programmed" characterizes it. The symbolic surfaces it produces are, in some
way, previously inscribed ("programmed", "pre scripted") by those who
produced it. The potential is large, but limited: it is the sum of all
photographable photographs by this apparatus. Every time a photograph is
made, the potential shrinks, increasing the number of achievements: the
program is being exhausted and the photographic universe becoming real. The
photographer acts towards the exhaustion of the program and towards the
completion of the photographic universe. Since the program is very "rich",
the photographer attempts to find ignored potential. The photographer
manipulates the apparatus, feels it, looks into it and to through it, so as
to always find new potential. His interest is concentrated in the apparatus
and the world out there only interests him as a function of the program. He
is not striving to change the world, but to oblige the apparatus to reveal
its potential. The photographer is not working with the apparatus, but
playing with it. His activity resembles that of the chess player's: also
looking for a "new" move, so as to realize one of the game's program hidden

If still in this text, Flusser credits a minimum of possibility of action to
the photographer – despite characterizing him as a sort of being subjugated
to the photographic apparatus' program – the process of clarification
proposed by suwud with Googorama reveals that, nowadays, programmers
definitely leave the photographer out of consideration, since all of
photography's aesthetic, pre-programmed more than a century ago, and now
reinforced by the presence of digital, can directly take care on its own of
the photographing act.

What effectively seduces about suwud's action is its gesture, although it
has some resemblance with Andy Warhol – who also tried to "just" disclose
the reality of the Brillo Box, or a Liz Taylor photograph – does not tend to
glamorize or transfigure the ordinary object, turning it into "art". The
collective seems content in just pointing at the scheme that structure the
photographic rhetoric, leaving to the receiver the processing of the
information in whatever fashion he/she sees fit.

By turning the photographic rhetoric into something visible by just
restating its existence prior to the experience of the human eye, suwud does
not aestheticize its strategy for deconstructing traditional visual codes
(which, in fact, precede the photographic camera by centuries), not
producing, thus, an art object passive to the reduction of mere merchandise.
On the other hand – and consequently –, satisfied in maintaining its
intervention on the sphere of pure dematerialized information, the
collective will hardly run the risk of finding its proposal on some
collectors' room.


In a moment in which most of the agents in the art circuit seem relieved in
producing, or maybe overestimating, works which barely disguise their only
desire of being a merchandise, a collective that compromises with the
strategy of revealing power mechanisms that structure both the art world and
the world of information brings out a certainty: we cannot affirm that our
time is of pure indigence.


1 I thank Roberto Winter and Pedro Terra for their availability in
discussing suwud's production with me, as well as my colleague from the
Departamento de Artes Plásticas at ECA-USP, Gilbertto Prado for his reading

2 Translated with consent from the author from the portuguese original
(available as PDF online at
http://www.seminariosmv.org.br/textos/tadeu_chiarelli.pdf and
http://rhwinter.com/tadeu_chiarelli_pt.pdf ) in May 2008 by Roberto Winter,
who is grateful to Jeffrey Jon Shaw and Larissa Rebello for having carefully
reviewed it (this translation can be found online at
http://rhwinter.com/tadeu_chiarelli_en.pdf ). This text was originally
written for the occasion of Tadeu Chiarelli's speech at Museu Vale's

3 I refer here to their lack of ability in realizing the developments that
the concept of art had outside the United States and European countries, a
problem which, belonging exclusively to the kind of tradition that both
represent, just remains to us, Latin-Americans and other "excluded",
lamenting (for them). BELTING, Hans. O fim da história da arte. São Paulo:
Cosac & Naif, 2006.; DANTO, Arthur. Después del fin del arte. Barcelona:
Paidós, 2002 – Translator's note: Hans Belting's book referenced here is
known in English as "The end of the history of art?", Arthur Danto's is
known as "After the end of art".

4 "Por dentro e por fora das bienais", in PEDROSA, Mário. Mundo, homem, arte
em crise. São Paulo: Perspectiva, 1975, p. 300.

5 ARGAN, Giulio Carlo. L´Arte moderna. 1770/1970. Firenze: Sansoni, 1980.

6 It is noteworthy, even if briefly, that while in pop art, Arthur Danto
sees the transfiguration of the ordinary object into an art object, in
proposals above all by Clark, we can notice a reverse transfiguration: by
transforming the art object into devices that simply provoke a relation
between subjects or among them and space/time, the artist overcomes the
concept of an "art object" in a simple way (If, later, some of her
followers, will firmly endure on the process of re-sacralization Clark's
relational objects, producing "quasi-relational objects", that is another

7 Refer, above all, to: BREA, Jose Luis. La era postmidia. Acción
comunicativa, prácticas (post)artisticas y dispositivos neomediales.
Salamanca: Editorial Centro de Arte de Salamanca, 2002.

8 Translator's note: googorama is available online at

9 Straight photography – a tendency that arouse in the field of
North-American photography at the beginning of the last century and which,
attempting to escape from academic pictorial stereotypes exhausted by
photographers who wanted to grant photography the status of "art", had as a
goal the production of a direct photography, with no stylistic or technical
artifices. For some authors, this "direct" photography in some way simply
replaced the pictorialist patterns: if that which preceded it searched in
academic painting its parameters, this tried to base itself in a modernist
rule book, always attentive to the avant-garde painting of its time.

10 Street photography – lead the proposal of straight photography outside of
studios, directly documenting life in big North-American metropolis'
streets. The two tendencies strongly influenced international photography,
acting even until today.

11 ARGAN, Giulio Carlo./FAGIOLO, Maurizio. Guida a la storia dell´arte.
Firenze: Sansoni, 1977.

12 Translator's note: USP stands for "University of São Paulo",
"Departamento de Artes Plásticas" is the plastic arts department in that
university. The department is part of "Escola de Comunicações e Artes", the
"School of Communication and Arts".
13 Email statement by Pedro Terra sent to the author on february 22nd, 2008

14 It is in this sense that a video called "Performance Hotel Laboratório"
can be seen, made from the documentation of one of the ladder-tower's
previously mentioned.

15 Email statement by Roberto Winter sent to the author on February 3rd,

16 Email statement by Roberto Winter sent to the author on March 4th, 2008

17 Email statement by Pedro Terra sent to the author on February 28th, 2008

18 Translator's note: "Prêmio Porto Seguro de Fotografia" is a photography
award sponsored by a Brazilian insurance company called "Porto Seguro"

19 FLUSSER, Vilém. Filosofia da caixa preta. Ensaios para uma futura
filosofia da fotografia. Rio de Janeiro: Relume Dumará, 2002. pág.23. —
Translator's note: Vilém Flusser's book is known in English as "Towards a
philosophy of Photography".

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