Net.art per me
This year the Venice Biennale is for the first time hosting a display of net.art
(meme). The Slovenian pavillion – curated by Aurora Fonda – is presenting my
work and that of my most distinguished Italian friends 0100101110101101.org.
The present volume is intended to be the lasting document of that presentation and part of my project for the Biennale.
I have chosen the expression Net.art per me as the title of this book and of
the whole project in reference to a conference held in Trieste in 1996 that was
entitled Net.art per se. That was practically the first time that our small but uninfluential European circle of online art pioneers came together to discuss our activities. Subsequently that little meeting gained some notoriety, so much so that last year the venerable Walker Art Center hosted a panel named Net.art per se II. Touché.
While it would be truly polite to congratulate ourselves for the inclusion in the Biennale, it is nevertheless important to offer a fair account of how it actually happened. The fact that net.art has become part of the official history of the Biennale is a consequence of the art-political vacuum in Slovenia. The previous selection of artists for this show have raised so much bad blood (mauvais sang) that the key institutions have de facto boycotted the selection process staged by the culture ministry.
I am mentioning this in order for the historians of net.art not to fall into unjustifyed glorification of Slovenia or Eastern Europe as a natural basin for net.art to establish itself as mainstream (as the recent issue of CIAC magazine from Montréal is suggesting).
The relationship between net.art and the art system remains silly, and possibly the expression net.art.system expresses its impossibility.
The display that I have decided to stage in the Slovenian pavillion is meant to express a couple of small points. The works that I have chosen were both completed in 1997 and are to be considered ancient, especially in the compressed nostalgia field of online arts. I thought the Biennale the place to show old and stable values.
Documenta Done is possibly my best known single work and the Biennale being such a show I have decided that it makes sense to stress the slightly disruptive potential of the medium. The installation itself – even though it does contain a computer – is meant to be a bit broader and to extend the conceptual point(s) of the piece. I hope that this installation will offer a possible answer to the eternal question of the gallery display of net.art.
History of Art for Airports asks questions about the historization of our time-based art form. Again, I have tried to display the work in such a way that the surfer that is familiar with it will nevertheless find something new, and in the same way I intend the unsuspecting gallery goer not to be intimidated by screaming claims about online creativity.
The show in the Slovenian Pavillion is thus intended as the maximum compromise that I could think of between the online environment and the utterly problematic gallery context that is proving itself the wrongest locality to place net.art.
Temporary Autonomous Pavillion
The very important stratum of the project Net.art Per Me is this exhibition that
deliberatly has no name. The subtitle above is a multidirectional insult that we are using for the venue. One asks himself which profanization is worse.
I have invited several artists that have shared the net.art adventure since the early days or that have offered incisive propositions that made me remain active as an artist for so long. This volume contains a modest catalogue of that show. What needs to be said is that I insist on the fact that regardless of the sometimes impressive ways in which some of the net.art careers side-multi-tracked, we all have remained the closest of friends and often collaborators. I regard this show as a hymn to the definitively existing very human dimension of these creative
As for the show and the way the works were selected I can only mention a concept that is floating around my head for a while now – New Low Tech Media.
With this slogan I am trying to identify artists that are reacting to the dumb way in which the art system and the society at large are non-reacting to technological development. Some of them don’t even know I have a label for them, and the last thing I would want to see is that label appearing on any of their young bodies.
Museology of Net.art
I have exhibited my net.art pieces in a variety of venues, and in very many different settings. Sometimes the display was reminiscent of the office, sometimes the work was shown offline, and sometimes technologically complex and expensive setups were created to host net.art. And rarely did it work.
Possibly the problematic detail is that whatever you do in a gallery in order to show net.art pieces (already this expression is thoroughly wrong) you will de contextualize it, and lose the spontaneity of free browsing.
In order to stress the importance of this dilemma (did you notice that I am avoiding the Microspeak word issue?) I have humbly asked my dear friend Sarah Cook to present a cross-section of more intriguing essays and contributions from CRUMB, a mailing list and international community dedicated to questions of the museification of net.art among other topics. I expect that the selection presented in this volume will mark a good start.
It is really hard to find precise words to describe Nettime. Let’s just say that somewhere in New York there is a machine that is routing all mail sent to one e.mail address to very many others, approximately a thousand and a half of them.
It started six years ago in a Biennale just like this one where Nills Roehler, Pit Shultz and Geert Lovink had the right combination of guts and cash to invite a group of very different people to discuss net.theory, net.critique and art. Out of that meeting a mailing list came arose, and a series of six books of its postings was printed with several reprints.
I have decided to present one more collection of Nettime postings because of this Venice spiral, and also because of the historically non-negotiable fact that net.art owes its communications spine to it.
I sincerely hope that the series of clever and humorous writings in this book will seriously stimulate the curious reader in the way nettime has stimulated net.art.
The sentimentality of this short introduction lead me to using the picture of the emouse developed by IBM. The emphasis should be on the affective computing and not on the super-interesting story of IBM and Holocaust that I think is one of the most important milestones in understanding technology and its place in history.