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Re: <nettime> Qx2 Bartlett/Interplay
robert adrian on 19 Mar 2001 16:18:54 -0000


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Re: <nettime> Qx2 Bartlett/Interplay



Moges Abebe wrote:
>... I need a visual description of Bartlett's 1979 work "Interplay."
>I know the technology that they used and all the cities across the
>globe that were involved in it but I don't know EXACTLY what it was
>they did and why it is ART rather than just communication. Could
>someone please assist me?

A visual description of a computer communication conference
is basically just a description of people sitting in front
of computer terminals.

In Toronto, Interplay took place in the context of the first
Computer Culture Exposition during the 1979 Toronto Super8
Film Festival. In the catalogue to 'Computer Culture 81',
Richard Hill wrote:

    "The term 'Computer Culture' was sparked in a lively
    conversation between Richard Hill, Sheila Hill and
    Willoughby Sharp while brainstorming about a small
    computer-related art exhibition to accompany the 1979
    Toronto Super8 Film Festival. The ideas quickly blossomed
    into having displays and demonstrations coupled with an
    eight day workshop program ranging from education and
    robotics to networking and computer imagery."

Bill Bartlett's contribution was the 'networking' part,
presumably with the help of Norman White with his contacts
at I.P. Sharp Associates (IPSA) who provided the computer
network. Bartlett invited artists in cities around the
world with an IPSA office to join the project: a computer
conference in the framework of a public networking workshop.
Each of the invited artists went to the IPSA office in
their city and asked for free access to the IPSA network
for the project as promised by IPSA HQ. This usually meant
working from the local office - except for those lucky
enough to have access to a private computer terminal.

So Interplay was basically an 'on-line chat' and its
'product' was the printout that scrolled from the terminal/
printers around the world (computer monitors were costly
and rare in 1979).

I organised the Vienna location and worked from the IPSA
office while the local IPSA manager took a terminal to a
radio station (ORF) and used it to provide input for a live
radio broadcast on Kunst Heute, a weekly art programme.
I have no idea how it looked at other locations but Bill
Bartlett might have some data. I have an email address
for him if anyone is interested.

The interesting thing about the Computer Culture 81 text is
the fact that "networking" was thought to be an appropriate
topic for an arts workshop in 1979. Even more interesting is
the fact the CC 79 exposition jumped from film to digital
without including video - no mention of video in the CC 81
catalogue! Why?

Was it art?
I include such events in my CV as art projects so obviously
I think it was.
One of the motivations for artists to work with telecommuni-
cations was the growing awareness that political, military,
commercial and financial power was migrating to communications
networks. Penetration of these networks by artists could
perhaps make them visible and maybe even begin to map their
growing social and cultural influence (proto-hacktivism?).








    --------------------------------------------
    robert adrian <http://www.t0.or.at/~radrian>

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