Re: [-empyre-] Size matters?
No probs ....by the way the email it wasn't from Sarah .. I just know
her and wanted it to cc her.
On Thursday, August 12, 2004, at 11:11 AM, Alan Sondheim wrote:
On Wed, 11 Aug 2004, Charlotte Frost wrote:
I am not saying that net art needs the history of art, or needs
validation,Perhaps I've known odd art historians, but many do seem involved with
ephemera, and you mentioned conceptual art actually in that regard.
There is plenty of precedent, from Klein's Iris Clert Gallery (no)show
to the N.E. Thing Company of the 70s. There are numerous books on
conceptual art, performance art, of course Laurel's theater/computer
paradigm, etc. I also don't think there's _the_ history of art, so
much as histories - look at the recuperation a couple of decades ago,
of the 'meaning' of lapis lazuli in Renaissance art, or Steinberg's
work on Christ's erections literally wiped out in the Victorian > period.
but what I am asking is how net art can negotiate both these art world
Validation is tricky as well; here Wittgenstein's games is the most
useful for me - validation for whom? with whom? etc. - At the same
time Andre's Lever was decried by the London public, it was validated
by art historians of a particular persuasion. This thing goes on and
on - look at Chaucer's reputation or the pre-Raphaelites for the past
century and a half.
I am asking this firstly because I wonder if net art's apparent
more traditional systems forces it to build its own secondly does net
force existing systems to adapt to its new offerings and thirdly
this causes both sides to inevitably acknowledge each other. I see the
history of art in so much net art output, even if as a rejection of
which makes me see the two as a syzygy, they oppose each other, but
allied because of this opposition.
Well, first, as I questioned, is there "net art" - or are there a
variety of practices? Are the BMW movies net art? We could debate this
endlessly. So I don't see "both sides" - but rather multitudes of
viewpoints - just as, for example, it's clear here that there are
numerous viewpoints about lists themselves, depending on one's
For me, for example, nettime is crashing - it's all political now, yet
almost nothing of cultural politics, art, etc. It used to be a mix.
Now what separates it from any other site of political commentary? Why
should anyone except the writers pay any attention to it? (Mentioning
this because nettime was brought up elsewhere.)
Well again and again, what list? what net art? Cybermind had a
conference, I did a book 'out' of it to some extent (including though
people like Zizek, Kittler, Aycock, etc.), there was a MOO for a
while, etc. Other lists like Leri had different extensions.
Also, as there is a lot from offline that is reflected online, in an
technological translation I wonder whether/what elements of the
world are building structures reminiscent but not wholly reflective
offline. And if this is the case, despite the fact net art often bills
itself as anti-establishment, might it be rather more reliant on
and extensions of existing models than we realise, after all, net art
all new and a computer is just another prosthesis...Therefore I am
what reflections the list has off line, other than real conversations
letter writing, because I think the list offers something else,
aligned, perhaps not, with offline art world systems...
And when you say "existing models" - it's more that at least some of
the models, museums and galleries, at least here in NY, are following
online cultures more than the other way around. For every museological
site, there's an independent mez or myself, etc.
I think it is undoubtedly the case that the main source of validation
net art is the text, whether it should be or not, whether it needs it
not, which is of course less anti-establishment or 'new' than one
thought. In fact, text is everywhere for net art, as critique and
marketing, it facilitates curation by explaining the conceptual links
between works, in an absence of physical proximity, and in the form
text creates the works themselves! However placing such
emphasis on text, over the gallery or institution, still constitutes
and might require additional adaptations more aligned to this textual
allegiance. So what is this textual architecture?
Well, art is a confluence of discourses; this is a fairly accepted
approach, I think. And as discursivity, there are language games,
sites, withdrawals, enclosures, etc. etc. So text is in relation to
critique - Bourdieu wrote extensively on this stuff in Distinction.
But there is also net art that leaks 'around' text - it depends,
again, on the definition of text. Is all code text? Are all images
text in terms of their perception or reception theory? I go back to
Metz's difficulty with cinematic language vis-a-vis semiosis and
language. Instead of text, I'd work with Peirce's notion of 'sheet of
assertion,' which I've treated as a symmetrical substructure - in
order to read this, for example, every letter is spaced in
such-and-such array, etc., concrete poetry notwith- standing (and
that's within the symmetrical substructure, online, of the pixelled
I apologize for coming in late here - what list are you referencing?
There aren't that many people net artting the list, so to speak - mez,
nn, solipsis, noemata, lacook, meskens, myself, but it doesn't go on
forever. For myself, I have the http://www.asondheim.org/ site, which
Ivan Pope provided gratis and wonderfully, which has all of my elist
work on it. mez has her own site, etc.
From this, still keeping my art historian outfit on (actually I
I have one;-), I end up asking if the list is an art historical
net art, and if so, should we be looking to stabilise and historicise
archive of the list as much as groups are already looking at
art? List archives are not easy to search, and compared to books they
difficult to work from so what role does the list play in the
and historicising of works for the future, if any?
When I see a list posting covered in text with lots of links, because
format/protocol of lists, it reminds me of the gallery in reverse.
of big pictures on the wall with little texts next to them, we hang
big and put lots of little links to the art...Eventually the list
provide the equivalent structure to the art gallery, for work that
be physically housed, providing its context, publicity and validation
required), so is the list the preservation of net art that some have
looking for all along. I dunno?!
Well, one doesn't have to subscribe to an art gallery. One just walks
in. One doesn't have to get along with the other people in the
gallery. I've now got a kill file, so I don't get too upset at some
people's postings. I don't have to do that at Sonnabend. In some ways
corporate space is a lot freer and more democratic, most often kinder,
than most lists I've been on. I'm lucky with cybermind, etc. etc. -
they're open to just about anything.
It's precisely because of low-tech that lists, like IRC, will stay
Of course as is the case with the speed of construction in the e-age,
must inevitably look beyond the structures we are currently creating,
seems fair to say that it wont be long before the relatively low-tech
is adapted or superseded to better house the debates it has helped
nurture, but it is important to understand its foundations and
before we build on its hopefully solid ground, lest list subsidence
As Jim rightly notes, language isn't necessarily the written word,
but IThere is no "the" language, again. At least for my most recent work,
the written word isn't that important; I also don't think that images
are language or even necessarily linguistic.
feel that the written word just seems incredibly important to net
art. And I
wonder, although these thoughts are not fully formed, if we are not
discussing the language of new media, but creating it???
Anyway Alan, I am aware of some of the projects out there, but when I
this research, I struggled to find more information and nobody on
wanted to help me :-( so I had to begin with the information I had. I
appreciate that in light of what you are saying, I may need to adjust
ideas, but you might see how I formed some of them and am grateful
info...I couldn't find your Being Online book anywhere so I have yet
Hell and darnations! It's Being On Line, Lusitania books; it might be
out of print at the moment. My Apologies.
I hope that is clearer, although I know its is very disjointed and if
having this conversation in person there would be a LOT of frantic
Not to mention giggles and coffee -
Anyway I want as many arguments as possible, so that I can clarify my
both for myself and for the panel at ISEA...you all have till
(UK time) to catch me! :-)
Hope this reaches you in time...
WVU 2004 projects http://www.as.wvu.edu/clcold/sondheim/files/ Trace
projects http://trace.ntu.ac.uk/writers/sondheim/index.htm partial
mirror at http://www.anu.edu.au/english/internet_txt
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