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<nettime> Vuk Cosic interview: net.art per se
Josephine Bosma on Sat, 27 Sep 1997 21:06:12 +0200 (MET DST)


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<nettime> Vuk Cosic interview: net.art per se


I actually wanted this interview out before Ars Electronica, things got
delayed but it still works ok. This one digs a bit into the history of
net.art and it shows net.art did not start as a joke or as a hoax. It's
pretty old, May this year, and made at the infamous nettime meeting
in Ljubljana. It has some fresh url's at the bottom though, which
change its perspective. After the rumor earlier this year that net.art
would be declared dead in Linz, net.art gets taken to a higher plan
instead. Some writer in the paper yesterday said nothing is as safe as
writing poetry. I doubt that, but it of course depends on the writer
and the context. How safe is making net.art? What is safe anyway?


--

Q: Did you start off as an artist immediately or was it more
media activism?

Vuk Cosic: If I recall well the first website I did was for a
little festival that I was in, just to see how it works. But the
next thing immediately was a website for a conference I was
organizing last year in Trieste. That was net.art per se. It was
about net.art allready. I was fully aware of the possibility of
this quest, so to say. I invited some people I knew from before,
you know: Alexei Shulgin, heath bunting, Pit Schulz...I made a
website that was allready some type of, how to say it, not a
manifesto, but a practical version of it. It had the same ambition
like a manifesto, but without the declaritive tone. It was a
demonstration of what might be done in my view, back then, a year
ago.
I liked and so did the others. I thought: "hey, I've got nice
friends, they like what I like..." and it was in this way that I met
all these good guys. That's what net.art is all about, you meet good
guys.

Q: Net.art per se was one year ago, do you think that manifesto,
or whatever it was, still stands? How would you write it now?

Vuk Cosic: The whole manifesto thing was actually four questions
that are on this one page and that are links to four not really
answers, but suggestions for quests for the answers. I really did
not think of it back then as a manifesto, but somehow it works
quite fine.
One question was whether net.specific art is possible. The other
question was (oops, I don't remember well) "does the globality of
the audience automatically mean the universality of the topic",
something like this. Pretty pompous in rethorics, but still...
Then there was something about distribution and something about
content, something about specific aesthetics and something about
the tangible artwork itself. What happens with the copy and the
original. That made a lot of sense to me back then and
today it gained a new quality.

Q: What happened at the meeting?

Vuk Cosic: It was a great meeting. It influenced a lot the
structure of several events that followed. I gathered 7, 8 or 9
people. We were sitting around for two days eating icecream in
Trieste end of May, which is something you absolutely have to try
in life, and our only duty to the external reality of life was to
sit around a table the second day at the evening and try and say
what those talks were all about and then there was the dinner
party.
Actually the talk was based around these few questions. Andreas
Broeckman came with, how do you say this, a sketch for an essay
about net.art. It somehow coincided in time. He had the opportunity
to test his theory. We also had the opportunity to test him. It
worked well, it was a good text. Akke Wagenaar was there, she was
defending some funny 19th century positions, but in the meantime
baby, she got far this one year. Then who was there, Alexei Shulgin
and Walter van der Cruysen (desk.nl) and me. The three of us were
the Marx Brothers of cyberspace, we liked that title back then.
Then there was Igor Marcovic from Zagreb, Adele Eisenstein, she
used to work in C-3 in Budapest.
It was a conference of people that are involved more or less
seriously in various art and internet institutions or are kind of
involved in art in the internet.

Q: Were any of the talks or the outcome of the talks published
anywhere?

Vuk Cosic: No no no. I don't really believe in secret societies,
I don't believe in mafia and in mercenary, but it makes a lot of
sense to just meet, talk and not think of real academic or what
ever other kind of output. (It was the same here at the nettime
meeting). We met, there was a lot of quality in exchange, a lot
of dynamics, it was pretty intense. Just like in some other
conferences later or like in the first nettime conference in Venice.
It was just intense and nobody was thinking of how it will be an
essay or a journalistic text. I hope this year, the conference in
Ljubljana, was basically like that. I hope not many 'reports' are
going to come out of it. It was about us meeting, talking, that's it.
That's where it should end as well.

Q: What kind of net.art did you do after net.art per se?

Vuk Cosic: I don't know really how to answer that. I did a lot of
experimentation, right after that conference, with animated gifs.
I made a large collection of them. I like taking things from the web,
keeping them on my disc. You know: view source, copy, paste. I did
some experimental combinations with these gifs. You can blow them up,
you can crash the browser. You like it so much you want to destroy it,
that attitude. Then I developed an attitude where out of twenty
things I do I maybe put one on the server and just like playing with
it. It goes in fases. I am not dedicated like Jodi are. They just do
this and only this. They work every day all day, fill their disc with
loads of stuff. They are really in an artist studio with their
machines, while here its more like an occasional reflex and instinct
to react to maybe some bullshit I see or good stuff I see which I
want to underline in a way. I don't have much to show, but there is
some stuff, twenty, thirty little projects.
Sometimes I react to CNN, sometimes I do just abstraction. I maybe
fall in love with something that happens new in browser revolution.
I say:" Wow, frames! Look at this shit, its so stupid, it must be
good for something." Then I sit down, I read the manual, I try some
borders, fatness, thickness, whatever.
Slowly I was also involved in some collaborative projects, with some
guys I mentioned allready: Alexei and Andreas. The Refresh thing.
Alexei had this Moscow WWW art centre fassade, a multiple identities
thing, then in Berlin Pit Schulz organised something: NetLab.
There was something in Budapest. Caroline Smith, who is into
situationist, postsituationist, neoist, Luther Blisset, Monty Catsine
international omni art something. It was a nice little project I liked
very much. I think it was called Budapest 1956, or I call it that.

I go to conferences. That's net.art actually. That is an art practice
that has to do a lot with the net. You come to the conference. You meet
one hundred and a few people from abroad. That's a net. Art is not only
the making of a product, which then can be sold in an art market and
praised by an art thinker or mediator. Its also a performance. When
you are having a good time, its pretty much like when you are creative
and you are producing something. When you have a good dialogue, when you
are stimulated to come up with new argumentation, with new ideas, that
is creativity for me, thus art. When it is about this type of meeting,
like this nettime meeting was, thats net.art for me. The whole form of
this conference can also be defined as a piece of net.art, as a sculpture.
A net.art sculpture if you wish.

http://remote.aec.at/history
http://remote.aec.at/life/index.html
(made for the Ars Electronica net.art project Remote-C)

http://www.ljudmila.org/~vuk/dx/
(gives the whole Documenta site, read an article about this at
http://www.rewired.com )

http://www.ljudmila.org/7-11/
(the website to a recently started mailinglist,
a cooperation between Vuk Cosic, sep97 (the artist formerly known as
heath bunting), jodi and Alexei Shulgin)

*




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