Raivo Kelomees on Sun, 15 Feb 1998 10:34:18 +0100 (MET)

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<nettime> Syndicate: Conformism in net.art (once again)

Conformism in net.art

Interview with Nelli Rohtvee

R. K. Is there conformism in net.art ? 

N. R. I am not a communication expert. I can only give my personal view.
Well,it4s an obvious statement of course that web-, net.art should never
represent something, not the outside world. It should only represent
itself. It should fight and be as radical as possible. To define its new
territory will not be that simple because we have already history of
mail art, video and the interactive new media art. So net.art is
situated, byits very nature, because its us within this history and
context. Althoughit is exposed to turbulent forces, it is trying to
escape.. but in fact it can4t. But it would be fatal if it can4t also,
you know, just escape art history and the whole art system. The
conformism is that in the end it will accept history as it is, accept
the rules of representation, the gallery system, museums, catalogues,
etc. But we should not blame net.art as a phenomena for this.

R. K. Don4t you see some personal conformism in web-projects, or pages
which are made by artists. You can see different festivals which are
asking for web-projects. Not only video- and interactive art. Somebody
want to see very much web-projects, net.art ...

N. R. Question of demand in market terms for net.art is obvious. So
there is market opportunity for someone. If he or she calls herself a
net.artist then they are successfull, instanteneously because there is
nothing else. You can almost start from scratch, know very little about
computers andhistory of art and technology and just do whatever you like
because thereis nothing else.  So in that sense, you know, maybe you
could demand that all the rising stars of net.art should study history
of mail art and they should know everything about situationism and
fluxus. They should know everything about conceptual art et cetera.  But
its seen from very narrowart perspective in the terms of art is defined
system were people have the power of definition. 

Why is this art system so powerful? Because it has the power of the
definition what art is. So if net.artists are just doing whatever they
like, they can do that, but they can4t do that for a long time. They can
go crazy for a while, if they have enough creativity, maybe they will
have the financial resources to continue with this, let's hope so. The
other development you see is that while in this creation of net.art the
questionis who will have a power of definition what is net.art and what
is not. At the moment the so-called net.art group is extremely small,
almost like asect. They are more operating like an artist group, a
movement and cannot claim to be the only ones in this field, as there
are many others, also developing useless, suberversive net esthetics.

R. K.  But is it possible to define which kind of pages are so-called
art-pages, web-art, net.art . Which kind of pages jury of international
electronic art festivals prefer?

N. R. You should have a look for example the difference between the
so-called net.art group which is a specific group a lot of net artists.
But it is always happening. This group is about 10 or 15 people. So all
the others out there on the web are not included. But I don4t think that
process of exclusion is strong here. This is a relatively random group.
They came together in a specific setting, but I don4t think they are
particularly avangardist. I see very much that they come from a specific
configuration  in the development of a non-American Internet culture. 

R. K. Is it typical or not by net.art that people are using programmers,
this pages are not made only visually. Some social space is involved. Is
it possible in future that artist can made this pages by himself,
without professional programmers?

N. R. People always depend on other people's software. The writing of
software itself has been a social process. This is how UNIX and many
other system were created in the past. All software is collaborative in
that sense. Of course it became corporative and huge...  There is no
personal software in that sense. So it is just the matter, the question
of how, to what degree you depend on others. There is no total freedom
or autonomy in the computer world. But, one can only say, that
especially net.artist the first thing you have to do learn as many
program languages as possible. I don4t think that we can have this
distinction like you know from conceptual art. That there is a person
with a idea and who just send the idea to the construction workers and
they just build up the temporary installation. I find that it4s so
completely hilarious situation. 
I think in net.art there is interesting debate going on, a
collaboration between designers, programmers, artists and maybe
theorists and critics. In that kind of environment you can see the
concept of net.art can grow rapidly. It is now being consolidated if you
ask now, you can see that new, old rigid forms of divisional labor again
returns. And one of them is of course that you give idea to the
programmers and they will do it for you.

R. K. Could you at last shortly define the net based artist?

N. R. I am not quite sure but I can see that there are some differences.
You have the commercial people who are interested in making money. It
doesn4t matter with what, with content or access. And within net.art
there is the distinction between theorists, some of them having an
academic background, some of them are the art guerilla activists, they
are busy with all kind of social, political, economic themes. And you
have artist who are dealing with the lot of esthetical issues. I think
by definition net.art is  dealing with communication in the true or
false sense or intriguing in subversive sense. It can4t not be a picture

Questions asked by Raivo Kelomees


Nelli Rohtvee as Estonian artist and critic has been active in local
art-scene since 1986. In beginning as a painter and author of
de-collages. She is known by her childish and honest manner of writings:
she says what she has in mind. She is untouched by powergames. For
strong people (critics, curators etc.) are particularly in small
societies lots of possibilities to attain power, to define what art is
and who an artist is. Nelli Rohtvee has broken rules of subordination
and local conventions, she says when everybody says yes. She made
dolls before Estonian women artist started their activity with 
feministic art. She started with video when everybody was enthusiastic
about performance. She started with net.art, with kind of net.scratching
as the bes artist are still video-artists.
She presented last year her net.works on mediaforum Ostranenie. She
is trying to make simple, unpretentious pages which from a point of view
of used technology are very cheap: only mixed messages


You can see it without plug-ins and with low-equiped computers.

Raivo Kelomees

Nelli Rohtvee's...

- homepage: http://www.artun.ee/homepages/nelli/nelli.html
- CV (written by herself):
- Net-Poetry http://www.artun.ee/homepages/nelli/poeemid.html
- altavista words http://www.artun.ee/homepages/nelli/tower/start.html  
  e-mail: xnellix@hotmail.com

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