Steven Kurtz on Tue, 29 Sep 1998 07:23:45 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> An open letter to Ricardo Dominguez

An open letter to Ricardo Dominguez:

Group memory is a funny thing; each member inevitably recalls events
differently, and these subjective modulations seem to become
increasingly distorted and mutated over time. In turn, this eventually
prompts returns to the archive where we can attempt to determine how
tightly bonded facticity and interpretation are. What prompted this
particular dig in the archive was your remark at _Revolting Media_ when
you stated, and CAE quotes:

'I was a member of a group called Critical Art Ensemble and in the 80's
we wrote two books that of course weren't published until the 90's. One
is called _Electronic Disturbance_ and the other one is called
_Electronic Civil Disobedience and Other Unpopular Ideas_.

In regard to the books _The Electronic Disturbance_ (TED) and
_Electronic Civil Disobedience_(ECD), and your participation in the
production of these works, CAE's return to the archive yields the
following memory:

The last major projects that you worked with CAE were Magnified Section
in late 92 and Apocalypse and Utopia, Part 1 (A&U) in 1992- early 93.
While CAE did some small actions in early 1993, no more major projects
occurred until September of 1993 with the New Smyrna project. After the
spring of 93, you never worked on another project with CAE.

CAE's first contact with Autonomedia began in 1992, while producing a
performance at NYU. During that time we proposed doing a book project
for Autonomedia. You were at that meeting. At this time, the book had
not even been started. Autonomedia rejected our proposal, and instead
stated that they wanted to work on the video project A&U in order to get
a better idea of what we were about, rather than blindly committing to a
book. Work on A&U continued through the year, and in 1993, we went back
to Autonomedia and proposed the book project again--this time it was
reluctantly accepted. In spring 1993, CAE began working on TED, at about
the same time that you stopped working with the group, and it was
released in late 1994. CAE certainly recognizes the contribution that
you made with the scripts that you authored or co-authored in the
chapter on performance, but that was the extent of your contribution.

The first appearance of the essay ECD was in 1994 when it was produced
as part of a project for the Anti-work Show at Printed Matter (NYC), and
was first published in The Crash Show catalogue for Threadwaxing Space
(NYC). By this time, feedback on TED was coming in, and this prompted
CAE to decide to put together a companion book for TED (we mention this
in the introduction to ECD) in order to answer questions that had been
raised. At this point, ECD was the only completed essay, until we
decided to add the Addictionmania chapter, which was based on a pamphlet
(Action is Addiction) CAE did in 1992. The other four chapters were
written and published in 1994-95 ('Useless Technology' written in 94 and
published in _Ctheory_ that same year; 'Slacker Luddites' written in 94
and published in 95 in the Ars Electronica catalogue; 'Human Sacrifice,'
written in 95 and published in _Public_ that same year; 'Resisting the
Bunker' written in 95; and ECD (the essay) was modestly reworked and
addendums added in 95. ECD was released by Autonomedia in late spring of
1996. Again we are thankful for your contributions, which consisted of a
one paragraph script in the Addictionmania chapter, and a performance
that you developed and performed, described by CAE in the chapter
'Resisting the Bunker.' However, during this period you were involved in
neither planning nor producing this text. The two small elements that
you contributed were CAE archive material from 1992. In no way can it be
claimed that any text having to do with TED or ECD was produced in the
80s, or during your time with CAE. Given that this misinformation has
been entered into Net memory, CAE members felt we had to speak out
against this fabrication, and set the record straight.

CAE has always freely given its work (both art and text) to the public,
and it may be used as individuals see fit without acknowledging or
giving any credit to the collective. However, when someone who was not
involved in the development of CAE's work claims or suggests having had
the status of producer, this is no longer plagiarism in any productive
sense, and in fact, is a great disservice to the writers, artists, and
editors that gave their labor to realize these projects.

---Critical Art Ensemble
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