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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  2002

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 12:37:06 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (78 lines)

A few points in response to Josephine's posting, and the general theme.

I would suggest that neither of these labels 'net art' or 'code art'
necessarily has anything to do with computers or electronic networks.

Is mail art net art?

Are knitting or embroidery code art?

Isn't all art about codes and/or networks?

To get more focussed, it seems to me that what has come to be described as
net art (plus one more geographically and personality sited variant, the
so-called movement 'netDOTart') started out as a largely decentred,
artist-led phenomenon. Much of the debate in the past 4 years or so has
been about the process of coalescence, establishment, consolidation,
institutional involvement in what was, perhaps wrongly, seen as an area of
practise free from these influences.

Stating the obvious of course, but this e-mail list itself is a product of
an institutional initiative to stimulate discourse around issues of
curating, related to a conference organised by the Baltic Centre for
Contemporary Art last year. 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.

Not that artist-led net art projects are no longer important
(http://rhizome.org/carnivore) but their acceptance by the art world is now
equivalent to artist led initiatives in other media.

Code art: we can define this as art work which makes computer programs
and/or systems, their syntax and structure, evident. This has a fairly long
history, going back at least to the early computer art experiments in the
1960's where artists had to write programs in machine code or simple
english-based languages and were interested in what these lines of code
meant as a means of expressing aesthetic ideas, exploring the essence of
the medium if you will. With these sets of concerns, a relationship can be
found with structuralist film-making of the same era. The exhibition
'Cybernetic Serendipity' at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London in
1969 (I think?) brought some of these artists together.

It is interesting that these concerns have become relevant again, though
there have been similar ideas explored in net art circles since the early
days. JODI have been mentioned, but also Alexei Shulgin, Vuk Cosic, Mark
Napier, i/o/d collective and numerous other artists have pursued what might
be termed a 'code aesthetic'.

These artists owe as much to the popular sub-cultures of the demo scene,
hobbyist hackers, and the open source development community as they do to
modernist formalism and post-modernist deconstruction. Before the internet
and computers became relatively 'seamless' cultural experiences, the users
of these technologies would experience them through screens of code:
sometimes meaningful, sometimes worryingly less so (or pleasingly depending
on your point of view).

As to whether net art is a ghetto in the larger art world, well yes and no.
The art world is a ghetto in the larger field of popular culture. Net art
has some things in common with the art world and with certain sub-cultures
within broader popular culture. Like other technologically-determined forms
I guess: sound art and video art spring to mind. Is this a problem? Not
necessarily.

Chris




--------------------------------------------------------
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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