Tilman Baumgaertel on Tue, 13 Oct 1998 09:25:45 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> art on the internet - part 2

Art on the internet pt II

Hardware and Software

Jodi: (We are angry - T.B.), because of the seriousness of technology. It
is obvious that our work fights against high tech. We also battle with the
computer on a graphical level. The computer presents itself as a desktop,
with a trash can on the right and pull down menues and all the system
icons. We explore the computer from inside, and mirror this on the net.=20

Matthew Fuller: They (the off-the-shelf-software products - T.B.) work
fine in some ways, but only because users have been normalized by the
software to work in that way. There are other potential ways to use
software out there, that seem to have been blocked off by the dominance of
the Windows-metaphor, the page-matephor and other ways of interfacing with
computers that have become common. We believe that GUI is suffering from a
conceptual Millenium Bug... I think the "Webstalker" realizes the
potentials of the net better. It strengthens the range of mutation, the
street knowledge of the net. Normal browsers deal with a web-site as a
determinate amount of data. What we do is an opening up of the web to a
representation of infinity. I guess that this is the core mathematical
difference between the "WebStalker" and browsers: between presenting a
fixed amount of data and an infinite amount of data. What we want to say
is that the web consists of a potentially infinite amount of data. What
normal browsers do is close it down, that's why they are easy to use.=20

Paul Garrin: I am opposed to the concept of "Domains" as such. In the term
"domain" is the military heritage of the internet: "Domain", that means
"Domination", control, territorium - this thinking comes straight from the
Pentagon. And that=92s the way some people look at it: They think that thes=
names are their property, like a piece of real estate that they bought.
And all of a sudden the word "Earth" belongs to a company!=20

Bunting: I was trying to find a way to cut down on junk mail to my email
account, and I came up with this concept of an algorhythmic identity. I
change my adress now every month in a way that is very easily predicatable
to humans, but not to a computer. I chose the date, the month and the
year, something most western humans would know. So my email adress
currently is jun97@irrational.org. Every month the previous adress will be
deleted, and if you send mail to this adress, you get an auto-reply
saying: This identity is now expired, please reformat in this form. Since
I've done that my email has gone from 50 a day to just about five. I don't
get any stupid messages anymore.=20

Juliane Pierce (VNS Matrix): I think that technology is part of the
structures of power that have been developed by the patriarchy. But now is
the first time that women are able to participate in developing an
industry or a discourse. Women never really had a part in how the
industrial age developed for example. In the information society, they can
play a really strong role in developing the future. So it's really
important for women to get into the roots of technology and work their way
up. If we want a society that really represents mens' and womens' views,
women have to be at the top of that ladder. The internet and technology in
general has been developed by men as a means of warfare, industry and
commerce. We're interested in having a discourse on the different areas of
technology, be it the internet, be it multimedia. What particulary
interests me is the how the information age changes our society and our
culture. That for me is a really important issue of being involved with as
well as using these technologies.=20

?: Would you say that computers or the internet are gender-neutral?=20

Pierce: No, I think it's part of a system. I don't want to call this
patriachry , but the basic fact is that men control this whole information
industry. Bill Gates is one of the most powerful people on earth, and
there are generally men who are controlling the development of the
industry. There aren't many women in those positions of power that
actually influence the flow of technology.  Maybe the computer and the
internet as such are a neutral space, but there are certainly gender
issues, that are relevant to that space. The presence of women of subjects
of technology and users of technology is really important. There are
really didactic arguments how the hardware, the screen and the keyboard,
favours the masculine, but I don't agree with that. There *are* women who
contributed to the design of all this.=20

Marko Peljhan: I think there is not enough knowledge in society about
technology and telecommunications. People tend to mystify it a lot, but
when you really start working with it, it is just a tool like any other. I
think that creative people who work creatively in this field have to
develop specific technical skills, and you have really know how you are
using them and why. When I started working with satellites, I realized
that it was all military technology. That is a very important moment to
reflect upon, this military provenience of almost everything that we use.=

Net-specific Art

Robert Adrian X: I wanted to create networks, and in these networks things
can happen. I am interested in the strategic part of it, not in the
content. I am curious to see what happens once this space for art is
created. Making pictures is not what it's about. It is about finding ways
of living with these systems, to look at how culture is changing in these

Vuk Cosic: I did a lot of HTML-documents that crashed your browsers. I
noticed that there was a mistake somewhere in my programming. And than I
asked myself: is this a minus or a plus? So then I was looking how to get
to that. It was not enough just to avoid this mistake, I was trying to
really understand that particular mistake, with frames, or with GIFs which
used to crash old browsers, or later Java Script, that does beautiful
things to your computer in general.=20

Olia Lialina: The Web makes it possible to experiment with linear,
parallel und associative Montage. With "My Boyfriend came back from the
war" one can influence the narration. It is some kind of interactive
montage. But the possibilities that the user has are limited, because he
doesn=92t know what happens when he clicks on a certain field. But this wor=
is more about love and loneliness then about technology.=20

Alexei Shulgin: If you deal with technology-based arts, the very first
years are always the most exciting ones. Look at photography: When they
invented the 35-Millimeter-camera there was this explosion of art
photography in the late twenties and early thirties. Artists just did
whatever they wanted with photography. They didn't worry how it would fit
into the art system. They experimented with the medium, and they got
really great results. It was the same with video. Video art of today is
not interesting for me at all. Artists now use it as a new tool for
self-expression. But I don't believe in self-expression.=20

?: Why?=20

Shulgin: There is too much information already. I don't need more. But
when this medium video appeared, it was really interesting what artists
did with it. Same with the net: We are in the early stage of it now, and
people are just drawn to it by enthusiasm.=20


Jodi: People sometimes send us helpful code. For example, somebody send us
a java applet that we actually used for our site. We are really grateful
for that. Some people really encourage us, too.  They say: "Go, Jodi, go.
Make more chaos. Make my computer crash more often."=20

Debra Solomon: I don't think that computer games are very interactive.
THIS conversation is interactive, because we both can influence just about
everything that goes on in it.  That's how the interaction will be (at the
net art project the_living - T.B.) between the_living and her
audience/participants, when I'm on this trip. For example, I have an
intinerary already, but should a participant know of some place or
individual that would really add to the narrative or create a visually
exciting atmosphere, I would be happy to change my route.=20

Alexei Shulgin: I don't believe in interactivity, because I think
interactivity is a very simple and obvious way to manipulate people.
Because what happens with so-called interactive art is that if an artists
proposes an interactive piece of art, they always declare: "Oh, it's very
democratic! Participate! Create your own world! Click on this button, and
you are as much the author of the piece as I am." But it is never true.
There is always the author with his name and his career behind it, and he
just seduces people to click buttons in his own name. With my piece "form
art", I encourage people to add to it. But I am honest. I'm not saying:
Send it in, and I will sign it. I will organize a competition with a money
prize, like 1000 Dollar. I think that will stimulate people to contribute.
I really want to make this an equal exchange. They work for me, and I give
them money. I think, it is much more fair than what many of these
so-called interactive artists do.=20

The Art System

Robert Adrian X: From the very beginning the problem has existed of
identifying and defining the "work" and the "artist" in collaborative or
distributed network projects. The older traditions of art production,
promotion and marketing did not apply, and artists, art historians,
curators and the art establishment, trained to operate with these
traditions found it very difficult to recognise these projects as being
art. Net art challenges the concept of art-making as a more or less
solitary and product-producing activity.=20

Wolfgang Staehle: The issue of "institutial critique" was interesting to
me, but I thought it was absurd to formulate a critique of the
institutions of the art systen within ist institutions. That was just like
re-arranging the furniture. I thought that this wasn=92t consequent. That=
why I tried to really do something outside the instituitons. I think, The
Thing (the art mail box that Staehle ran in the early 90ies - T.B.) worked
so well, because the traditional art world didn=92t take any notice at all.
The thrill was that you could feel like a gang of conspirators.=20

Olia Lialina: I, personally, never said in any interview or presentation
that internet is my long waited freedom from the art institutions. I never
was connected to art system. I was not an artist before I became a net
artist. Maybe that's why I - from the very beginning - concentrated on
other things: internet language, stuctures, metaphors and so on. But at
the same time the idea that net art must be free from real world art
institutions is very dear to me, because in row of their values net art is
just one of computer arts. But I don't think that the right way to
demonstrate freedom is to travel from one media event to another with
presentations of independance. It's better to develop an independent
system... For me to give up my freedom would be to stand on how a lot of
critics, artist and activists earn money and make a career with everyday
statements that net art has no monetary value. Its not funny anymore.
Article after article, conference after conference they want to convince
me that what I'm doing costs nothing.Why should I agree?=20

Cornelia Sollfrank: For me, Net art has nothing to do with museums and
galleries and their operations, their juries and prizes, because it goes
against the nature of Net art. Net art is simply on the Net; so there's no
reason for a museum or for a jury that decides what the best Net art is...
But I'm afraid this development can't be stopped. Net art is on the verge
of changing completely. It still happens on the Net, but this need for
completed, whole works which can be sold, which have a certain definable
value, which can be attributed to an identifiable artist, and the
establishment of authorities who do the evaluating and who deal in Net art
-- we won't be able to ignore these developments. Net art will evolve in
this direction, and away from what it was in the beginning.=20


Robert Adrian X: There was no way to make money out if it, and there still
isn't. You support the communications side of your work with money from
elsewhere. I sold artworks and used the money to support the
communications stuff. There was nobody from the big art centers like New
York or London or Paris or Cologne involved. The people who participated
in these projects needed the communication, because they lived in
Vancouver or Sidney or Vienna or San Francisco.=20

Jodi: (For the participation in documenta X - T.B.) we get a fee for the
expenses we have when we put our files on their server. In total we got
1200 Marks. It is a clear example of exploitation. Which artist would move
his ass for this amount of money? But net art is a victim of its b-status.
It is treated as group phenomenon, as a technically defined new art form.
That is something that we have to leave behind as soon as possible,
because that is the standard way to do these things: A group creates a
hype. They call it mail art or video art, and it's doomed to die after
five years. I think we are looking for another way, because we are not
typical artists and we also won't play the role of the net artists

Heath Bunting: At least half of my projects could be turned into a
business. I did begging on the net for one week, and got send 1500 pounds.
I made a form where you can send Mastercard or Visa donations to myself,
and then I inserted it into corporation's or government guestbooks over
the period of a week. A lot of people found it entertaining, and send me
money. But I didn't actually cash that money. It's not so interesting for
me to do business. I assume that most of the credit card information that
was send to me was from stolen credit cards anyway...=20

I get paid for giving talks. At the moment it is very boring for me to
have an apartment. So for me this is a way to travel around without having
to sleep outside all the time. I haven't had an apartment since September,
I have been traveling continously since last June. And I enjoy doing it,
it's very challenging. The internet is a technology that makes that
possbile. Maybe ten or twenty years ago, there would have been a different
way of networking. Maybe a hundert years ago, it would have been a name.
If I was a certain type of aristocrat, I could have turned up in a court
in India in rags, and I would have just said my password, and I would have
been admitted and treated very well. In those days it was your name. There
are other passwords now, that give you access to certain things. The
funding models change. In the postmodern funding model, everything is
small and connected in terms of business. Forty years ago it was
different: with the modernist funding method, everything was big and
disconnected. And that would have made it very difficult for me to travel


Guillermo Gomez-Pena: Basically we want to bring a Chicano-Mexican
sensibility to cyberspace. We see ourselves as web bags. That's a pun on
wet back, which is derogative for Mexicans. We see ourself as kind of
immigrants in cyberspace. We also see ourselves as coyotes, as smugglers
of ideas, because we do believe that there is a border control in
cyberspace and that the internet is a somewhat culturally, socially,
racially specific space.=20

Roberto Sifuentes: This is important, because when we started this
project, the internet was seen as sort of the last frontier, the final
refuge where issues about race relations don't have to be discussed, where
race doesn't matter - as a strategy of avoidance. So it was important for
us to venture out into the internet, and when we first "arrive there", we
started getting responses back like: "There goes the virtual 'barrio',
there goes the neighborhood. The mexicans have arrived." Literally, people
send us mails like that.=20

Alexei Shulgin: I feel much more included than before (the internet -
T.B.). When I was just an artist living in Moscow, whatever I did has
always been labeled as "eastern", "russian", whatever. All my work was
placed in this context. That was really bad to me, because I never felt
that I did something specifically russian.=20

But is it art?=20

Alexei Shulgin: ...What we have now is that there is no critical context.
Art always takes place in some physical place, in a museum or whatever.
Even when it's an performance, it takes place in a space that is marked as
an art place. Even if it is not an art place, it is appropriated by
artists and therefore becomes an art place. With the net, you don't have
this physical space. Everything happens on your computer screen, and it
doesn't matter where the signal comes from. That's why there is a lot
misunderstanding. People are getting lost, because they don't know how to
deal with the data they are getting. Is it art, or isn't it? They want to
know the context because they don't believe their own eyes.=20

Robert Adrian X: The term artists has to be defined much more broadly in
this context. You have to include so-called hackers in this definition for
instance, because they are operating creatively with these systems.=20

Cornelia Sollfrank: If you take a closer look at the term "hack," you very
quickly discover that hacking is an artistic way of dealing with a
computer. So, actually, hackers are artists -- and some artists also
happen to be hackers...For me, an important parallel between hacking and
art is that both are playful, purpose-free ways of dealing with a
particular thing. It's not a matter of purposefully approaching something,
but rather, of trying things out and playing with them without a useful
result necessarily coming of it... Hacking does have to do with
limitations, but even more with norms. That's another parallel with art.
The material that art works with are the things that constantly surround
us. The only thing art actually does is break the patterns and habits of
perception. Art should break open the categories and systems we use in
order to get through life along as straight a line as possible. Everyone
has these patterns and systems in his or her head. Then along comes art:
What we're used to is disturbed, and we're taken by surprise. New and
unusual patterns of perception offer up the same things in a completely
new context. In this way, thought systems are called into question. And
only the people looking for this are the ones who are interested in art at

Vuk Cosic: I think, that every new medium is only a materialisation of
previous generations' dreams. This sounds like a conspiracy theory now,
but if you look at many conceptual tools, that were invented by Marcel
Duchamp or by Joseph Beuys or the early conceptionalists, they have become
a normal everyday routine today with every email you send. With every time
you open Netscape and press a random URL at Yahoo! 80 years ago this
action, that is now totally normal everyday life, would have been
absolutely the most advanced art gesture imaginable, understandable only
to Duchamp and his two best friends. This very idea to have randomness in
whatever area, form, shape, would have been so bizarre in those days.... I
will give a lecture in Finnland in September in which I will argue that
art was only a substitute for the internet. That is of course a joke. I
know very few people who have so much esteem for what artists did in the

Marko Peljhan: I actually don=92t care much about this kind of designations=
But when I compare myself with some other people who are also artists I
don=92t see much we have in common. So I just call my works progressive
activities in time. I am actually interested in defining utopia, looking
over the defined borders. That is the legitimization that an artist has:
the right to be irresponsible sometimes.=20

Wolfgang Staehle: That=92s not of interest to me, that=92s up to the art
historians to decide. I can=92t answer this question.=20

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