Hi Mike (and all)
Glad to see the discussion tempted you out from lurking around the edges. I'm very aware that I've not been catalysing the discussion this week. Too many issues off-list at present. Apologies for neglected correspondence, I will catch up. I am still trying to find time to collate a list of things we might consider as 'networks-as-artworks' already referenced here and others elsewhere. Please do send links and perhaps a few words, needs be nothing more than that.
In the meantime, in preparing a lecture for first year undergraduate students on Duchamp, postmodernism and appropriation I was quickly searching for Filliou's view on how The Eternal Network 'replaced the concept of the avant-garde which has become obsolete' because:
"If it is true that information about the knowledge of all modern art research is more than any one artist could comprehend, then the concept of the avant-garde is obsolete. With incomplete knowledge, who can say who is in front, and who ain't. I suggest that considering each artist as part of an Eternal Network is a much more useful concept." (http://www.franklinfurnace.org/research/projects/flow/mailart/mailartf.html)
Steven Harris has noted that Filliou 'equates art with knowledge here, and still retains a notion of art as research.' I am not sure I agree with this link with knowledge entirely, particularly in the case of practice-led research, unless it also refers to unconscious knowledge which I assume it does. Does this production of knowledge generate value, hence our scholarly interest? Does that institutionalise the practice as a form of capital? What then is it capacity for radicality, for critique ... what does this means for notions of critical art practice?
In any case, while quickly searching for references I cam across this information regarding the 'Digital Legacies of the Avant Garde' conference in Paris, April, 2012 (http://digitallegacies.org/parispapers.html) which I am kicking myself for not noticing earlier (i have to accept incomplete knowledge again). All good angles on the subject from a slightly different perspective but maybe Stephen Voyce's "The Eternal Network: Avant-Garde Activism and the Cultural Commons" is particular useful!
Have a look, perhaps it helps us expand our discussion. Anyone know of this conference?