Tilman Baumgaertel on 14 Feb 2001 00:57:59 -0000

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Re: <nettime> Re: [Nettime-bold] Josephine Berry's net art history

Hello Josephine!

Just some brief remarks on the chapter of your dissertation that you send. 

I think it is very good in general, and the theory around net art needed
some boost. Too bad that nobody produces any net art anymore... ;-) 

Two things: first of all there are hints throughout the text that net art
has become accepted by the so-called art world, is assimilated in the art
market etc. I have heard that claim a couple of times recently, but I don't
see much proove for that. There was a handful of sales of net art piece, OK
- but that was widely acknowledged by everybody, because it was so
spectacular, that somebody would pay money for some HTML pages. But apart
from that there is no market there - at all! (I am writing that not,
because I care very much if there is a market for net art or not, but to
counter these recent claims that net art has been "established".) And at
least in Germany there is no "normal" museum or gallery that pays any
attention to this stuff; only specialized institutions like the ZKM who
were founded for just that purpose. If a show like the Whitney Biennale
shows net pieces it is still pointed out as unusual, and I don't think any
net stuff will be included in the next documenta. So I think in terms of
recogniation of the "real" art world it is much earlier than we think, and
maybe it will never happen.

The other thing that bothered me as well as Josephine Bosma was the
limitation on the artists you discuss extensively, but you explained that.
I don't know if you point out elsewhere that you are limiting yourself to
these people because you can't discuss everything that happens on the net
in terms of art. I think especially in the context of this chapter it might
be interesting to focus on the very strategy they employed to get
recognition. You know, form a little group, give yourself some interesting
name, create a myth around yourself and start to write manifestos. On the
one hand this is a well-known artist's strategy, on the other hand - if you
look at it now - it was done kind of sloppy and tongue in cheek (the famous
story about the term net.art etc). I mean, only so few manifestos? Maybe
this can also be read as an example of the use of an art strategy that
turns into something else, that you describe in some of the examples...

As far as the Biopower-stuff is concerned... well, I haven't read "Empire",
but to me it sounds a little bit like "bio compost", for which we have a
special garbage can here in Germany... ;-) I totally agree with you that
the net artists used (and still use) well-established art (and
anti-establishment) attitudes, that somehow transcend the art realm, when
they are applied on the net. I have a hard time finding the right
terminology to describe this, but I am not sure if the "Empire"-terminology
puts it so well, either. 

Well, so much for now. There is a lot to be said about this topic, but
since this discussion was stifled on nettime at one point, nobody did
continue it. Maybe over some pasta with chicken, again, Josephine? ;-) 


PS: Of course I don't agree with you that I. Graw plays such an role in
your essay, but never mind. I wrote a furious reply on this piece, when it
came out, that Jospehine Bosma was kind enough to translate: 

At 11:06 12.02.01 +0000, you wrote:
>Dear Josephine,
>I could not have expected you to realise this (since I didn't explain),
but the subject of my thesis *is* the group of artists that are loosely
defined by the term 'net.art', and so the lack of a broader description is,

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