Josephine Bosma on 19 Feb 2001 15:09:35 -0000

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Re: Re: <nettime> Re: Re: net art history

I think the way to approach net art is very much the way Steve Dietz has
approached the question (that is one of a number of questions that keep
coming up): "Why have there been no great net artists?" with an essay by
the same title.  So not
approach it from one particular angle (politics or art history or
technological excellence) but from many angles at once to get a new
picture of not just net art but of art as a whole. Individual artpieces
can be compared to older works of course, but to compare net art as a
whole with, say, mail art or performance or whatever will always be
lacking/failing somewhere. 

olia lialina wrote:

> "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.

So true. That does not mean his work is not interesting to reflect
certain issues. Like for instance there is also a text on interactivity
in which another theorist, Dieter Daniels, gives a lot of interesting
thoughts on media art.  One should
simply read between the lines and project a lot of ones own experiences
on it. What is wrong in this Daniels quote?: "Bill Clinton's
superhighway electoral campaign in 1992, however, already heralded a
radical turnabout. In a record period of time, the idea of free network
communications hatched somewhere between hackers, ex-hippies, and a
small avant-garde in art and politics, became the central message of the
media industry. This is why, finally, people forgot what media-assisted
interaction and communication was supposed to overcome: nothing other
than the hegemony of the media industry as the cause of cultural
consumerism." It seems as if the biggest problem with theorists and
academics is that they know a great deal but they work too little from
the situation at hand. What central message of the media industry? And
then: were 'media-assisted interaction and communication' supposed to
overcome anything of the media industry in the first place? Such a small
difference of thought can have great implications, like for instance it
could legalise (taking the thought further into media art theory) the
neglectance of media art which is simply beautiful. I am not saying we
should not be media critical anymore, just net art theory should be
multi-facetted. Groys seems to be leaning towards beauty in the
traditional sense too much (symbolical objects), Daniels leans towards
media art as political tool. 
> 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.

err.... ascii paparazzi? Sorry dear Olia, this is too insulting to come
from you. Anyway, the biggest problem net art journalists and observers
have is that we are too few with too much to do. Plus not all the work
that is done makes it to the 'central online discourse' but remains
hidden in local paper press or books. As for the interviews that I
publish: there are two reasons to publish them. First of all one
interview often can give a view of a certain area or field at a specific
time that is far more precise then I would be able to describe it in a
general text. Secondly do I think it is more important to show the
variety of works and practices out there right now then it is to write
analytical texts about them. If you have little time that is, relatively
little time with the speed of developments now, the explosion of calls
for net art works, net art exhibitions and conferences worldwide. Get
stuff out, that matters! Make curators etc see what goes on, who is out
there doing what, give ideas, provoke different angles maybe! The
problem with interviews is that one has to transcribe them, which is a
lot of work. Remember this type of work does not get paid for either,
which is the last thing I would want to complain about, but well... A
problem connected to this is that e-terviews are not working as good as
f2f interviews, whereas combinations of the two are great. So one also
has to have the opportunity to meet artists in person (which makes some
people feel shut out)

> Btw, saying that net art is just beginning isn't very
> different from saying it's dead.

That is a very strange thing to say, and I would say highly subjective.
I remember your words not so long ago, where you said in a conversation
that was published online that you were waiting for the next generation,
for those that would say your work is old news! We are now at a time
where we are at a crucial point where net art is about to really break
through, and I mean -understanding- net art is about to break through.
When I look around me at conferences and so forth the questions of both
the audiences and the moderators of panels have developed greatly. Is it
wrong to say this will develop further and that we should be ready for
it, help with it even? Would you prefer institutions to develop the
theory around net art themselves, on their terms, from their point of

> 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."

Sometimes one sees great mistakes in who gets appointed to teach or
judge art. Mark Amerika is first of all a writer, an experimental
writer. He should teach hypertext or something, not digital arts in
general. His presentation at Transmediale should have been
contextualised by his hosts. He knows very little really about net art,
and he will be used by traditional art professionals to justify



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