2001.02.15. - McKenzie Wark, Re: 'Spacial Discursions' - no space
Subject: Re: 'Spatial Discursions' - no space
From: McKenzie Wark
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2001 11:25:11 -0500
There is a difference between saying that space disappears, and saying that space *almost* disappears. What one experiences is the latter. This phenomena, of the almost-disappearance of space, has been going on since 1848, which we can take as a notional date for the implementation of the telegraph. This too was spoken about in terms of the almost-disappearance of space. Only space can be quite recalcitrant, and can refuse simply to disappear just because another kind of space, with different properties, has arisen which becomes a power over it.
I discussed this, many years ago now, in terms of second nature and third nature. If we think of second nature as built environment, the physical labour of tranforming nature in habitus, then third nature is another kind of transformation, the transformation of both nature and second nature into an information landscape capable of controlling the process of transformation of nature into second nature.
This process is limited, technically, until the arrival of telegraphy, which for the first time enables information to move across space faster than people or things. With the emergence of telesthesia, of 'perception at a distance', third nature comes into its own as a space able to fully subordinate other spaces to itself.
Telesthesia, which begins with the telegraph, includes radio, telephony, television and telecommunications. (The etymological similarity of these terms is no accident). It is composed of both extensive and intensive vectors -- those that connect New York to Nepal, but also those that connect two diodes within the same machine.
The space of third nature is only notionally 'spaceless'. In fact it is always divided, territorialised, partitioned. There is a politics of the space of third nature. A politics of speed and price, of flow and boundary.
Interestingly, utopia is able to attach itself to this space as its ideal just as it attaches to nature and second nature. There are romantic utopias of nature; there are technologlical utopias of second nature, and now, cyber-utopias. These ideals never have much to do with the politics of space, however, which is constantly creating boundaries and openings, differentials of speed and value.
There's more on this in my Virtual Geography, Indiana University Press, 1994.
2001.02.19. - Olia Lialina, Re: Re: net art history
Subject: Re: Re: Re: net art history
From: olia lialina
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 09:35:36 +0300
I check my mail, look at my bank balance, I see myself in the mirror - and I still don't know what you mean by failures and deaths?
Net art failed, in some critics and researchers opinion, because it didn't take over institutions as was expected. Curators, museums and magazines didn't disappear (sorry). But don't you see that net art and net artists changed the landscape of contemporary art? Now, art institutions have to learn to act as nodes (not as a center). And they do. Those who are really open become part of complex networking projects. Those who can't get rid of traditional standards of beauty and interactivity entertain their audience by making links to funny web pages.
And Art.Teleportacia --my miserable, small, pale Art.Teleportacia gallery-- did a great job. It moved curators of big museums to open their eyes and continue their work on a new level; with understanding and respect for works that are not objects, works that are not completed products.
Institutions correct their positions, collecting policies, exhibition practices. I would say it's a victory. And a funny process. It's fun to participate. Fun to observe . And fun to completely ignore.
Last September I wrote an article, quite a long one, about my experiences with the "First Real Net Art Gallery" and the "Last Real Net Art Museum". About Famous Net Artists, Real Net Artists, Conferences, Objects and ZOOs. But it's in Russian and German . I'd be happy and grateful if someone would translate it into English. Title "A Link is Enough"
"A Link is Enough" was published last November in DU magazine. On the next page there was another essay on net art, written by Boris Groys. He writes about his vision. He's brilliant. His ideas and comparisons are fresh and unexpected, but after a few paragraphs you see that he has no understanding of net art and networks. He saw the net art at ZKM in the autumn of '99 and thought that net art was a lot of connected computers, blinking screens and projections. I have a small quotation with me: . I can imagine there are a lot of good and influential writers who still think the same.
It's a pity.
And it's a pity that net art critics who have been working in the field since the heroic days have reduced their activity to interviews. Or hurrying and competing to be the first to announce death and failure. ASCII Paparazzi.
Btw, saying that net art is just beginning isn't very different from saying it's dead.
My students came back from Transmediale in Berlin and said there was a speaker, Mark America, who was announcing that net art is dead.
from Mark Amerika's CV:
"Amerika was recently appointed to the Fine Arts faculty at the University of Colorado in Boulder where he is developing an innovative curriculum in Digital Art."
I can already see the development, innovation and result. We'll get a bunch of experts from Colorado writing necrologues.
Discussions about terminology may seem endless and useless. But I like them and find they create perspective; like a tool -a magnifying glass- to look at the present and recent past. Recently, during WRO KULTURA, I planned to make a tremendous contribution; analysing the development of the terms web art, net art, net.art - general terminological issues. But I failed because the previous speakers' statements made me change the subject of my talk. These sketches are all that's left:
Who benefits from the rumour that net art is dead?
Your 'W' will be the same 'W' as in original
We try to teleport people
But without success
Last Real Net Art Museum
Do you keep my photos on your server?
2001.02.19. - Pit Schultz, Re: net.art-history
Subject: Re: net.art-history
From: Pit Schultz
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 01:00:27 +0100
maybe someone of you read erik davis' last book, in which he names the great antagonist of our times "hermes", the trickster, god of trade and thiefs, and god of communication. michel serres, also a kind of half-god in the academic sense, made him the hero of his studies. this figure, maybe a data dandy, parasite and prankster, maybe a guy formally called an artist, but certainly out to make fun and profit of all of you who try to get him, was probably the god of net.art too.
let's assume that the 'failure of net.art' was some kind of auto-destructive program inbuilt from the beginning for the purpose of vanishing in the moment of capture. this makes the difficulty more explainable interpretators seem to have, as well as the institutional system or even the art market in making profits with net.art.
the love for crap (the bla project), the somewhat cynical game about the end beeing near (time to remain to go crazy). the utterly sad sound of a computer who is brought to try to sing (386dx), or the formalistic absurdities of artful phpl-form art, just taking one of them, alexei as an example, is *playing tricks* with the context which constructs these works. you could say very similar things for jodi, vuk, heath, olia and many others.
i think we are completly underestimating the complex value of these works, that they were partially constructed by the way they were viewed by 'the community'. their fine intercommunication with their fans and interpretors, replying to texts and ideas, or surfers who randomly came by, curators who were more than clever to call this a kind of self-promotion, a community of friends of the international conference circus before the rather dull dot.com phase, made net.art a more than lucky coincidence of some people doing art which hasn't to be called art anymore. walking through the institutions it revealed often insights in the way these institutions work.
remaining is not an autonomous art form, but a complex but as well precise body of works which represent a certain social time of the net, viewed from a specific angle. net.art therefore could be explained in a second, third, or n-th order, but is itself a kind of thick description of what happened in that time. and the more this time vanishes it becomes clear that net.art reveals and critiques very well the all too human pathos of the radical new, the vanities, desires and dreams of a cyberspace which only happend in our imagniations, but nevertheless happened.
back then in the early nineties, at the same time when other artists diappeared from the field of institutional critique or the so called context art, to start clubs, or record labels, bakeries, do book projects or movies.. when the web took off these loose groups were just ready to use it for their own purposes. it was more then a way to become famous. from the beginning a sense of satyrist critique and scepticism towards technology drove net.art combined with the existential experience that utopia is possible insofar that very unlikly changes can happen. the east-west dialogue is maybe one of the substantial geographical elements of net.art. plus a disrespect for authority and the old and new orders of knowledge, artistic interest to bring the matter of the medium, the code, to its limits within a larger sense then just programming, playing with the echoes of the avant-garde net.art only simulated the existence of a group, it was rather an open aliance, and even today one can continue to work in the spirit of this practise.
laughing about ideologies, the grand ideas, and a calculated anarchic fun of expanding and augmenting vision not just by the means of technology but by manipulating the expextations of people using them, highlighting the limits and errors of the internet myths makes net.art 'human' in a post-humanistic sense.- it describes the complexity of the net.condition exactly without canonizing it but in an open ended narrative. a rather first-hand and therefore rare knowledge about contemporary art and its history *) helped and just gave a explosive package to merge with the nettimers for a little while and along other stations and splittings.
to demand now, why not more artists are put into the heaven of net-dot-art is understandable but neverteless futile. we speak already about the past. of course one can try to overwrite history, by inventing a genre of 'artistic software' and neglect that groups like jodi or iod for example started a whole "do it yourself - school" of understanding code and the visual layers plus its social context as one thing, tactically including bits of programming language. an approach now very viral on the microsound levels of electronic music.
of course you can say net.art is dead, and do your books and catalogues, but chances are high that these efforts are useless and are just feeding a even more vivid zombie. somewhere someone else might understand something, and use the label to do another post-post avant-garde hack, temporary of course, but nevertheless a source of many very constructive misunderstandings. sometimes, one can still hear the laughter.