Dear list, 

Armin: I appreciate your comment on the impossibility or otherwise of curating the net as if it were a giant ready-made. It may well have been possible to approach it from this angle at the time of Cosic, Shulgin, Lialina et al. Galloway expressed similar when he says ‘is dirty aesthetic deeply limited, but also facilitated, by the network […] a type of art making that is a mapping of the network’s technological limitations and failures’.[1] The pervasiveness of Web 2.0, particularly social media, has meant the network is more likely a spectacle, in the Debordian sense of ‘a social relation between people that is mediated by images’. [2] I am not sure that curating the network-as-artwork is the same as curating the net as artwork, in the way I mean to explore it. I was ashamed of myself that prior to this discussion I had not read Tatiana Bazzichelli’s ‘Networking: The Net as Artwork’ [3] but will soon to try to resolve the question of whether there is a difference. Essentially, in my view currently, the Net is one network  - perhaps the paradigmatic apogee of networking  – but there needs to be a way the ‘network-as-artwork’ can affirm critique of its post-Web 2.0 pre-eminence. I agree entirely then with your view that ‘We need to move beyond this situation and not just invent a new aesthetics but new forms of living, of co-operation, of exchange. Technologies will play a role in this, but not such a privileged anymore.’ [4] This moves us closer back onto Filliou’s territory of ‘The Eternal Network’ where we need to contend then, however, with the problems of materialisation again. I see you trying to do that with your FIELDS project and while I won't be able to take part would like to know how that turns out.

Ken: I also appreciate your attempt to think through different meanings of ‘network’. If I follow, you seem to suggest one sense lies in artists’ manipulating communications technologies for aesthetic ends (Nam June Paik, ‘Art by Telephone’, ‘Omaha Flow Systems’) – network as tool, perhaps – and the other being the broader context of networked communication itself, which in many ways transcends specifically art production. If this careful differentiation stands, then it probably benefits Filliou’s conception of ‘art being what makes like more interesting than art’. It is useful to think of your differentiation of networks-as-tools and networks-as-systems. Sure, The Eternal Network would need to fall into the latter category as an artwork as an ongoing system of relations rather than an as a networked ‘artefact’. Your point of sustainability is valid to raise given the apparently ‘permanent’ nature of ‘la fête permanent’… but really how did Filliou mean this ‘permanence’ to be interpreted? I think his definition of ‘The Eternal Network’ – again from Clive’s ‘Porta Filliou’ tape – refers to the ‘eternal’ aspect as ‘la fête permanent’ of the post-avant-garde, as what happens whenever ‘through the collective efforts of artists …artistic activity becomes just one of the elements.’ [5] If artists collectively succeed in escaping the fixed positioning of the avant-garde as a dialectically-bound reaction and recoverable antidote to mainstream hegemony, then needing to circumvent the regulation of their activities as art could be important. The issue then is how to employ whichever criteria decide the efficacy of such a network or not. To move toward Clive and Gary’s discussion of Stuart Hall elsewhere, I wonder if ‘The Eternal Network’ is a puzzle which resists the moment of ‘regulation’ in the circuit of culture that ‘comprises controls on cultural activity’. There is also ‘play’ here as a critique of instrumentalisation and yes; I think Filliou is making mischief that’s keeps us talking now. Maybe working out what ‘la fête permanent’ is a koan? Thanks for making “The Wealth and Poverty of Networks” available [6]. I read it earlier in my research and it certainly works well as critique of Filliou that needs to be responded. Maybe the problem is in sticking to ‘network’ - we could argue whether Art’s Birthday is a ‘network’ or not. I guess I am as interested in in it as a ‘formation’ and a ‘networked formation’ at that. Problem?

Gary: I really appreciate your excursus on Cultural Studies and Hall [7] and do sense there is an answer from that perspective to these problems – as I hint at in a very literal, uninformed way above – but I am going to have spend longer working through those issues of research and politics you raise – is Rancière useful in relation to finding ways to consider ‘being ‘political’’?

Clive: “ideals Die” totally gets into the annotated bibliography – you know we all want to hear it! Upload a MP3 please, just for us? I also completely appreciate your idea of printing a small and cheap – as you say –edition reflecting the discussion that we can put up as a PDF on the CRUMB site, maybe? That’ll also give us a reason to keep talking once this month is over and see where this current network formation can lead us. Brilliant idea, thanks very much for proposing. Everyone else happy with that, anyone want to join in particularly? 

My hard dive is slowing down and I am getting unresponsive script warnings trying to filter the wonderful further material Helen, Gary, Ken, Clive and Tom contributed to the list discussion. This will form part two of my response within the next couple of days but there is certainly a wealth of links that we can add there to our bibliography of ‘network-as-artwork’ research. Thank you for your generosity, all.

Oh, Filliou, why are you one of those ‘People who make our head hurt just being themselves’? [8] Thanks for that in particular, Tom.

Network greetings, 


[1] Galloway, Alexander R. 2004. ‘Internet Art’. In: Protocol: How Control Exists After Decentralization. MIT Press, 219.