nettime on Sun, 20 Jun 1999 00:22:32 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index] NET.ART: SUBVERSION, NOW MORE THAN OVER

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Date: Fri Jun 18 12:50:39 EDT 1999

It was only about three months ago that the new media afficionados were 
all a flutter concerning the new BIOTECH initiatives in net art. Which was all 
fine and good if one lived in London. 

For us who believe in a more global scale; the recent trend has been the
politics of subversion, for better or for ill. Vuk Cosics Documenta Heist is
well documented and there is enough commentary on the action to almost kill its
grandeur to begin with. Its fascinating how long it took many to follow suit.

The excellent RTMARK, who I dare say are quite on schedule for a massive
backlash, will kick off this weeks goodybag with
The satirical site is one of the best satires I've seen of American politics,
aside from the Perot campaign.

It should help to mention, in the Cinema isle, the film Bob Roberts, written 
and directed by Tim Robbins, which I watched twice this week,  a brilliant mock 
documentary of the right wing folksingers run for senate. 

Similarly,'s site is sickeningly accurate parody of the Presidential 
Sons campaign trail. Even better, the quotes, such as "There ought to be 
limits to freedom," are direct quotations.

The macro politics of, however, are just as interesting. Domain
names are now as close as one can get to libel or copyright violations while
still maintaining legal protection of the contents. Its an activists wet dream!
The new politics of subversion are equal in opportunity to those of the
technology, offering a new toolbox for anyone willing to use it.

Another site following the domain name suit is located at
museum dedicated to contemporary art. Their web site features the work of
various internet artists, initiatives and designers, but in fact, SMAK is not
responsible for the sites innovative and appropriate content. Rather, a small
group of students and activists banded together to purchase the domain name,
then contacted interesting digital initiatives. The material is worth a look,
to be certain, and it seems to still be in the process of collecting work for
its online collection. 

Lastly, there is the http://WWW.0100101110101101.ORG site; which, in 
the face of a somewhat interesting act of art sabotauge, proceeded to do 
absolutely nothing interesting with it. Hell.coms online event, SURFACE, 
was opened to the rhizome audience several weeks ago. 
The 0100101110101101ers downloaded all the material and posted it,
to the public, no passwords, resulting in the threat of legal action from Since then, they have gone on to, for some reason, download 
and make available other publically available sites, such as, 
triggering the very appropriate response from Alexei Shulgin: 
"Great. Subversion again." 

All of this is of course evident of a new move for net related art initiatives 
towards the more political aspects of the net. The communication issues 
and identity issues it triggers are by no means new,  but still particularly 
relevant. In the wake of a war, in which propaganda questions were raised 
for every new fact reported by either side of the media, it is interesting to
note that it is no longer safe to assume that when you enter a Sears Roebucks,
you are not actually entering a JC Penney, or an animal rights orginization. 
This is the nature of subversion, of course, the issue of raising questions 
via agitation. 

Its unfortunate, then, to see a slide from the intelligent subversion to 
that of subversion for subversions sake. It would be sufficient to define 
appropriate subversion as that which affects a "real world" institution via
"virtual" means, or one that creates a question towards the corporate face 
of the internet, or even the entire methodolgy behind internet identity. 


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