Felix Stalder on Sun, 19 Feb 2006 01:09:59 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Netbase (1995-2006)

Yesterday, there was a party in Vienna. It was a small, at times sombre, at times
exuberant affair, fitting for the occasion. The final call for netbase, the
institute for cultural technologies. Today, the doors remained closed and the
website turned static.

After more than a decade sailing hard against the currents, suffering countless
near-death experiences, it's hard to believe that the fall of the curtain is now
final. No more publicity stunts. 

With the netbase, one of the last 'free radicals' of the early internet culture
disappears, an institution which understood art as necessarily critical, both of
the commercial hype and the old and new centers of power.

Insisting on the freedom of art, defining its value as cultural intelligence,
probing alternative futures, netbase refused play along with the neo-liberal
redefinition of culture into 'services' to be measured by tourism boards, economic
development agencies, or ministries of education. 

Rather, what characterized netbase was an insistence on acting in public, engaging
the public directly and on its own terms. That such an approach is ultimately
doomed, particularly in a country like Austria, is hardly a surprise. Like a crash
in a formula one race, it's easy to say "i saw it coming." 

Even if the real surprise is probably that netbase lasted that long, witnessing
its closure is a sad affair nevertheless. Particularly for many nettimers, who
enjoyed, at one time or another, its particular kind of hospitality in here



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