RE: [-empyre-] Size matters?

Thanks Mez,

This has given me way too much to think about, and has totally distracted me
from other work! :-)

I don't really feel in the time available that I can respond properly, and I
realise that not all the points here are entirely directed at this debate as
they are your thoughts from a particular situation in 2003, but they are
prescient nonetheless...


>From the point-of-view of this practitioner-plus-reviewer, it seems
evident that various web/net/code artists are more likely to be accepted
into an academic reification circuit/traditional art market if they produce
works that reflect a traditional craft-worker positioning. This "craft"
orientation [producing skilled/practically inclined output, rather than
placing adequate emphasis on the conceptual or ephemeral aspects of a
networked, or code/software-based, medium] is embraced and replicated by
artists who create finished, marketable, tangible objects; read: work that
slots nicely into a capitalistic framework where products/objects are
commodified and hence equated with substantiated worth.

Yes, I am having trouble trying to explain the 'auras' (ugh - hate always
relying on Walter Benjamin) we imbue art with, this works well! I haven't
ever been trying to say we SHOULD validate art, but more that we DO and how
this affects art works which actively seek to shape new validation or a lack

An example of this can be found when examining the exhibition and
concentrated display-format changes of a projected net.wurk entitled
_RE_WORKINPR_. In 2000, a group of netizens including Tom Bell, Brian
Lennon, data]h![bleeder [myself], Everdeen Tree, Kevin Magee,
akenaton_docks, Talan Memmott, Free The Radical, Diane Ludin and Jim Andrews
- all active subscribers to various mailing lists such as Webartery,
Rhizome, 7-11, Wryting, Syndicate, & various trAce forums - created a
net.wurk [i.e. a series of fe][e][dback-&-forth content-altered emails]
without any reference or overt acknowledgment of a primary author or a
definitive substantiation/acknowledgement of the project progressing towards
an established endpoint.

The resulting _RE_WORKINPR_ project is not easily definition-pigeonholed
according to any traditional craft-oriented parameter, and is collaborative
in the sense of a deliberate, cogent act whereby each contributor was aware
of the process and contributed in light of this. The resultant art/net.wurk
resides in nodal/fragment-states, and is accessible through mailing list
archives and several hard-drives. However, a decision was made by certain
contributors that _RE_WORKINPR_ should be published in the Beehive
Hypertext/Hypermedia Literary Journal. In order to display the work, Talan
Memmott and Ted Warnell (editors) proceded to reduce _RE_WORKINPR_ to a
concrete, visually-loaded object/wurk that could be displayed in a Web
browser and proceeded to attribute its primary authorship to Brian Lennon,
despite his expressed desire that no one collaborator - or alternatively
every collaborator - be identified in terms of authorship, as no primary
author/agent acted to engineer the underlying rhizomatic structure of the
work itself.

This is fascinating, and just the type of project I have been interested to
uncover. How come you didn't tell me about it Jim?! Anyway, I am interested
in its 'nodal' existence and what it looked like pre-Beehive? And also if
you felt it was more beneficial to those involved in its shaping than it
would be to outside sources, and how it worked/didn't work as a published
piece. I have the Eyebeam book 'Interaction', which I have dipped in and out
of, and there are some great bits in there, but it seems really strange to
have it in a book, although I guess as an art historian I am supposed to
prefer books, slides and catalogued paraphernalia?!

I am also very interested in the aesthetics of its original state compared
to its published state as this was an issue I was going to raise earlier -
how do list aesthetics affect the work? I find the process of list reading
is often like an archaeological dig, because you have to pass so many layers
of ideas as you scroll down looking for interesting points or even the
origins of arguments. Protocol/tradition suggests what I am doing here,
placing your paragraphs first and attaching my thoughts afterwards, but how
does the actual way we have to adapt to this style of information
presentation affect our thoughts? With the book 'Interaction', they have
obviously tried to keep to this format in places, and have also chopped
between chapters with art projects and other information, which does remind
me of a normal day on the net, reading some posts, surfing, following ideas
and getting my thoughts interrupted, but this is a particular practice, and
not one easily replicated in print. As you say...

The reductionism employed during the [re]formatting of _RE_WORKINPR_ as an
acceptable, concretely-definable artwork highlights problems surrounding the
documentation and exhibition of projects that are essentially [via their
implicit ephemeral natures] un-documentable in terms of traditional
craft/object-display. The reductive approach used when seeking to
[re]present _RE_WORKINPR_ also encapsulates what I find problematic when
encountering Talan Memmott's work Translucidity. In this work, Memmott
professes to examine issues revolving around identity, apparatus and
networked realities, but seeks to do so through the utilisation of an
object/package that emulates this via a confusing craft-production
orientation, rather than employing a more reflexive - and ultimately -
balanced format.

Don't know Memmotts work, maybe I should?! 
Am I correct in think that what you are saying is that Memmott visualised
the project in his own way? If so, this comes back to my questions regarding
ownership of list content. Where I began to question the complex threading
of information, and how disciplines might adapt to deal with such blurring
between knowledge and actual text, I hadn't thought as far as the
visualisation of list participants thoughts...list aesthetics being what
they are. But in light of Christina's email about the importance of
archiving Empyre for example, is there an issue with the visualisation of
archives and the context in which Empyre is placed??? Dunno???? - Christina
what do you think???

In relation to Translucidity functioning in terms of/as an
apparatus/application, the dominant visuality of the work overloads [and
overcodes] the weighting of the actual content. The work is conceptually
rigid in its closed-ended approach to viewer comprehension, whereas a more
holistic application representation could produce an eventual/imagined
output which is lacking here & especially if the output is considered to be
the user/viewers' learning/meaning curve. Memmott attempts an overall
integration in terms of text as opposed to writing, but the intended
shifting-dynamic aspect of the content seemed stilted by the heavy, almost
excessive design format, with the resultant theory-faction mix diluted to an
eventual incomprehensibility-point. Its design does display the now
regulation sumptuous-Memmott trademark feel. This, however, can also be
perceived as a deficit, in that the manifest content [i.e. the totality of
the elements that seek to carry the comprehension loadings, both textually
and graphically] does not convey a consistency necessary to merge these
blocks into a package that conveys both the obvious software/application
aesthetic and the complexities of experimental/objectified code/network
language. My corresponding Webbing Suspension of Disbelief filter [which is
employed when viewing a web/net/code work in order to establish whether the
piece is consistent in terms of intention and delivery] unfortunately didn't
stay active when absorbing Translucidity.

So do you see my use of lists as problematic and is the conversational,
organic element to them more important and is archiving an 'issue'? Do you
think reformatting is inevitable in this day and age? Is it actually the age
of the re-format? It aint new media its reformatted media? 

I find so many issues here in what you have said, and I would like to return
to this project/issue when I look at these ideas further for my PhD, perhaps
we can talk more then? - Helen Varley Jamieson sent me a personal email with
great fodder too which is fantastic because I feel I am starting to get
somewhere with my ideas...

Anyone else fancy pitching in???


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