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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING 2002

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Subject:

Re: February's topic: artist/critic/curator

From:

Chris Byrne <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Curating digital art - www.newmedia.sunderland.ac.uk/crumb/

Date:

Tue, 5 Feb 2002 21:50:31 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (88 lines)

At 5:04 pm +0100 5/2/02, Josephine Bosma wrote:

>"Is mail art net art?" There have been a few pre histories of net art in
>which mail art is one forerunner of net art. In my point of view these
>pre histories were written most of all to show that what is generally
>considered art history seems to place too much emphasis on art objects
>(paintings, sculptures) instead of other influential art practices in
>the 20th century.

This problem arises particularly in the context of museums and collections
where at best the documentary trace is all that is left of let's say event
or process based art. We can probably add a few other practises into the
mix: live art, time-based art, temporary installation. You can find
parallels with net art in all of these.

>"Isn't all art about codes and/or networks?" Yes, but the new media
>environment (with what Graham Harwood calls 'more people producing
>meaningful content') and its global political and economical structures
>(computer networks have not just changed the interactions between us
>simple folk, but also between governments, banks, armies, mafia etc.)
>are the new cultural arena. We can't keep turning a blind eye there.

I think this generally holds true of most electronic communications media,
not just computer networks, though the technologies are converging. Those
with an interest in the wider social ramifications of Internet can hardly
be unaware of the way it is changing, not always for the better,
particularly since September last year. Here in the UK the government has
passed very draconian legislation governing surveillance of electronic
networks, amongst other measures.

http://www.cyber-rights.org keeps an eye on developments on behalf of those
not working for the government, police or security services.

Carnivore http://rhizome.org/carnivore is a very intelligent artistic
response to military use of computer networks.

>"So within this context, I would say (feel free to contradict!) that we
>have moved from artist-led activity, and artists as curators in the
>developmental stage to a relatively professionalised infrastructure
>emerging now, where museums and institutions feel more confident about
>getting to grips with the technologies and artistic concerns in the
>field (....) the art world is now equivalent to artist led initiatives
>in other media."
>
>That last point is very important. It is what I was refering to when I
>mentioned I wanted to talk about responsibility. Joining the media
>environment (which everyone does when posting on a public list or
>creating a website) means you enter an existing discourse, an existing
>culture. In an environment which is still developing, legally,
>technically, socially, this can have a lot of consequences. Think of the
>.museum story as highlighted by Jon Ippolito.

Hmm.. I don't remember that specific reference. Was it in his "Museum of
the Future" talk?

>Depends how you look at it. Video art and sound art do not have as many
>different forms of appearance as net art does. I sometimes call net art
>the merging of media art and more traditional art. Finally the two merge
>almost by default, through a media space which is used by 'everyone'.
>Yet the connection which also happens there with other cultures (design,
>activism, popular culture, folklore even) makes that in the end we see
>something that is more then just media art and more traditional art
>combined. Should we not adress such a big cultural phenomenon (as it
>also affects art) as art critics? We miss an opportunity to analyse the
>situation well and act to it if we keep the two seperate.

Yes, I see your point but with a very broad approach we also run the risk
of disappearing into meta-theory or theories of "everything".

Again I go back to computer theory, specifically Alan Turing's notion of
the computer as universal machine. The key is language, as language
controls the machine through programs. As media theorists realised some
time ago, the key to contemporary media is language and semiotics, whether
it's film, television or computer (see Lev Manovich, Noam Chomsky et al.)
The differences are mainly in the application of theoretical tools to
analyse diverse media phenomena. As for the web, well Hypertext Mark Up
Language says it all. I think art criticism can turn to literary, film and
media theory for useful critical tools to interrogate new media 'texts'.


--------------------------------------------------------
Chris Byrne                          [log in to unmask]
--------------------------------------------------------
New Media Scotland                 tel: +44 131 477 3774
P.O. Box 23434, Edinburgh EH7 5SZ  fax: +44 131 477 3775
Scotland, UK                    http://www.mediascot.org
--------------------------------------------------------

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