Anna Couey on 4 Apr 2001 12:53:10 -0000

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Re: <nettime> Carl Loeffler(was: net art history)

Thanks to Mark Petrakis, who forwarded part of this list's discussion about
Carl Loeffler and ACEN.

Carl Loeffler did pass away, on Feb 5, 2001.

His good friend, Tohei Mano, has created a virtual memorial for Carl at

I worked with Carl from 1983-91...a period during which Art Com (La
Mamelle, Inc.) moved away from presenting performance art and into
distribution of television art, books, vhs, artists software...and the Art
Com Electronic Network. Nancy Frank, Darlene Tong and Fred Truck all played
significant roles in the organization during that period. Jennifer Bender
was the mainstay of Art Com during the bulk of the 90s.

Contemporary Arts Press was the book publishing activity of La Mamelle,
which included Correspondence Art: Source Book for the Network of
International Postal Art Activity (eds Michael Crane and Mary Stofflet,
1984) and Performance Anthology: Source Book for a Decade of California
Performance Art (eds Carl Loeffler and Darlene Tong, 1980). Art Com
Television and Contemporary Arts Press Distribution were the distribution

A few factual corrections/clarifications to add to the discussion about the
Art Com Electronic Network (ACEN). We launched ACEN in 1986, as Bob Adrian
pointed out, as an electronic version of Art Com Magazine (greatly expanded
in size since we no longer had to worry about printing costs!). It was
initially posted in the ACEN conference on the WELL (Whole Earth 'Lectronic
Link), within a menu system developed by Fred Truck. The electronic edition
of Art Com Magazine did not reproduce articles from the print version. When
we went electronic we abandoned print.

Soon after ACEN launched, we realized the medium wasn't about publishing so
much as it was interactive, conversational. The conference itself quickly
became the heart of ACEN, and a number of participatory text-based
performances and projects developed or took place there...Bad Information
Base (Judy Malloy), Planetary Network (ACEN was one of the nodes for Roy
Ascott's project), Das Casino (Carl Loeffler & Fred Truck), to name a very
few.  ACEN was also a forum for artists working with software or
telecommunications as artistic media to begin to form a language for what
we were doing. At Art Com, we began to think of ACEN, rather than the
physical loft space we inhabited, as our artists' space.

One of the key aspects of the ACEN experiment was that it not only
connected artists, but engaged people who didn't define themselves as
artists as active participants in the making of telecommunications art...
we were very interested in moving away from the "artist as genius" concept,
and breaking down the hierarchy of art production.

The electronic edition of Art Com Magazine was transformed over time, into
a short guest-edited monthly publication that was distributed free via
email. I forget exactly when we started, but in that format, I was editor
from 1989-91.

We established alt.artcom on Usenet in 1990 as a way of connecting artists
more broadly (it was pretty expensive, even with international services
that let you dial locally to access the WELL from outside the US), after
learning about Usenet from Jeff Mann, who ran Matrix BBS in Toronto. ACEN
on the WELL and alt.artcom were 2 distinct environments and existed
simultaneously, though with little overlap in participation. I organized
several participatory projects that utilized both systems -- cross-system
dialogue was achieved by manually reposting from one site to the other.

ACEN on WELL officially closed in 1999, although I hear there is still
activity there.

-Anna Couey

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