RE: [-empyre-] net art, state and corporate patronage

Tim writes: 
>What I also find  fascinating is how Priamo links the disempowerment 
(or empowerment) of the curator in Mexico to the lack of an 
industrial backbone.  His assumption is that the computer industry 
would play a more active role as a patron of new media were it 
actually producing technology in Mexico.  

No doubt that there is a link between art, the state, and the industrial
backbone, although it mostly proves to be a subtle and indirect one and
doesn't necessarily manifest itself in direct corporate sponsorship. I think
the 'industrial backbone' tends to establish a context for technological art
that brings a certain kind of attention on various levels -- even if for all
the wrong reasons.

>Taking off on this point, 
one of my disappointments is the minimal role played by the computer 
industry in supporting my American curatorial projects when it's had 
the chance.  

At least in the US, most curators have had this experience -- sponsoring art
is not relevant to the computer industry. Some of the reasons are obvious
and even understandable: tech fairs and conventions tend to attract a far
larger audience than art exhibitions and their focus is technology per se;
in an exhibition, the technology functions mostly as an interface (and
hopefully a transparent one). We do not approach a new media artwork in a
museum and comment, "great screen" (although this occasionally happens) or
"what machine is this running on? Excellent performance"; it's equal to
contemplating a Picasso and stating 'great frame.' 

The corporations that sponsor new media art exhibitions are often the ones
that are considered 'dinosaurs' and not technologically cutting-edge -- they
consider it a PR campaign and sponsor to appear hip and sexy. I think the
luckiest marriage with a corporate sponsor occurs when the support is driven
by R&D and the corporation's interest in technological experiments. Of
course, there are inherent dangers here, too. In the mid-90s, many people
seeking corporate sponsorship for new media art tried to 'sell' the art as a
possible test-bed for technology, an approach that proved to be
unsuccessful. First of all, there should be no need for art to prove its
inherent value (and I think that the cultural value of art is considered far
more of a given in Europe than the US). Secondly, artists don't want to
become beta-testers for an industry. This is not to say that there haven't
been succesful and productive relationships between artists and industry.

>From my experience, the relationship between art and industry is always
heavily dependent on cultural specifics and requires an analysis of both the
status of art and the power and performance of the industry in the
respective country. It is not a coincidence that the Japanese are
cutting-edge when it comes to the development of technological interfaces
(in the broadest sense). Their R&D hasn't been focused on delivering a
product for the mass market, researchers (and artists) get an opportunity to
'play' with often beautiful results that may examine technology and
human-machine interaction but have no practical application. The latter may
be found further down the line when the respective technology can be
integrated with other applications.

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