[-empyre-] My $37.93 worth...

A unique value, I hope...


This is going to be way too long, but I've been REALLY busy writing my MFA
thesis, which is now finished and tips the scale at 392 pages. I can now
respond to this discussion which I have been avidly following. I will
respond to a variety of things we've already covered, and more recent points
as well. I've been keeping some notes.

It seems Lachesis has woven a few knots for me lately, making the idea and
issue of internet art (net art, i.e., art that can and does only exist in
the context of the internet) rather present in my local existence. In this
regard, I will be weaving several things together, and I do not expect any
particular conclusion. I will, as usual, do my best to communicate clearly,
even when I'm communicating something that's about as transparent to me as

I envy jon cates's ability to write in what I call "codespeak" where certain
sentence structures are hashed up like so many variables or declarations in
software code. I may, at times, resort to similar statement making
practices|standards. I'd wager not as well or as fluently, but I guess it's
a matter of practice.

Full disclosure time: as some of you may already know, last September, I put
together the San Francisco Performance Cinema Symposium, where the
criticalartware group gave an excellent group presentation of ideas and
resources regarding video, performance work, etc. I think everyone involved
with criticalartware is doing important and valuable work, and I
unequivocally commend their efforts.

Now, in terms of weaving, my weavings will be from this most esteemed list,
empyre, as well as the following other lists I subscribe to: the
severed-heads list, kfor, and soundCommons. I will also put together some
things I have rolling around here on my trust old G3...

Secondly, there is no second point.

Thirdly, this post is rather long and wide ranging. Just trying to make up
for my lack of attendance I suppose, or, I'm just happy to be talking about
something other than my own work. Or video. Also, I purposefully draw false
conclusions, in order to help illuminate some things I think that are of

I hope you find it entertaining|useful|not completely contradictory.

That all said, Hi Everybody!

Yesterday the voices in my head told me to read the kfor list for a change.

on kfor I found:

a discussion of net art in terms of painting (these posts are not mine) :

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =  = == =

>The skill doesn't matter.

skill = matters as much for (a) painter as for (a) web.konstruktor

>Like Vuk Cosik (the father of net art) is saying, NET ART IS DEAD ! (4) it is
dead because the context where net art was produced doesn't exist anymore...

 1)  net.art.golden-age/mystification/ => 7-bit.-pathos
 2a) what context r u talking about - political (9/11)? odr economical (1998
stock x.change crash)? odr teknological (netscape6)?
 2b) - conclusion = it proves unhealthy to rely too much on a given context.

                        (( or a given operating system ))

 3) some ppl however seem not to care if it's DEAD (cf. p.ex. runme.org )

>But on the other I still think that some art form would and will be produced in
interactions with Internet, but we cannot call it 'net art' anymore ! I do
and I will also...

ahhh - understand. terminology.     btw - u forget the [.]dot

>But at the same time I decided to jump into the most 'prestigious', 'serious',
'outdated' and 'unpolitically correct' media on an ironical way:

   01 hyp0thesis = suppose that e.xactly that prevalent "ironical" approach
lead to the premature death of netz.kunzt. ..
      : irony = not very healthy attitude for a young artform.
        cf. early film= melies/chaplin_1914. brave enough to be brilliantly
naive (+ skillful).
        same period= dada _ essentially ironical - lifespan= 1914-1921
(still 1bit longer than net.art-+1bit more skillful)

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =  = == =

Now transplant the essential argument of [netart (aesthetic of irony)] to
liken and the results are interesting. But where it doesn't map is where I
find liken most powerful and interesting. One thing I learned from my days
in the dotcom craze is this: it is utterly impossible to build community
from the top down. Community is built from the bottom up, and that is what
liken is doing, link by link, node by node.

Irony is a kind of statement that requires a double audience, where one
group hears but does not understand, and the other that, when more is meant
than what was said, is aware of both that meaning and the other group's
incomprehension. Here is a useful chart I pulled out of Fowler's Modern
English Usage and modified it a wee bit a long time ago:

kind    | Motive    | Province      | Methods       | Audience
humour  | discovery | human nature  | observation   | the sympathetic
wit     | spotlight | words/ideas   | surprise      | the intelligent
satire  | amendment | morals/ethics | accentuation  | the self satisfied
sarcasm | to hurt   | foibles       | inversion     | victims/bystanders
invectiv| discredit | misconduct    | plain speech  | the public
irony   | exclusion | state facts   | mystification | The Inner Circle
cynicism| selfjusti | morals        | Exposure      | the respectable
Sardonic| selfrelief| adversity     | pessimism     | the self

Now, liken is building a community, but it is [is it?] a community of an
Inner Circle - its interface and structure work on principles that are
several light years ahead of the ongoing paradigm in almost all other
internet communities I've dealt with (and this says something because my
last two dotcom jobs were all about community: Mizbiz, for women
entrepreneurs, and Napster for, well, it needs no introduction.) At the same
time, it assumes a fair amount of computer skills on the part of the
community members [does it?]. (OR:not) Also, in many fundamental ways, it is
also very simple. However, its conceptual simplicity has a number of complex
results. Ironic, no?

The mystification of liken is its use of codespeak in its interface

"criticalartware version 3.1415926535 introduces liken, the new substructure
of the criticalartware.net [application/platform]. "

"Within criticalartware, we are building an application to map the
intersections, ruptures, influences, leaks, reinforcements and slippages
between subjective histories and social moments. "

 - with such rigorous and specific language that strays from standard common
English vocabulary and syntax, an exclusion is made - between those who hear
and don't understand, and those who hear and do understand and understand
the lack of understanding (hence the humour of the irony).

liken is building [optimally] a community of people who understand computers
and have the time to build their own interfaces, who understand that they
can optimise their experience in liken by manipulating the code in liken.
liken is building a complex interconnected database of information. To
access this database requires one submit to the liken paradigm, an
inherently simple one, and one that shares similarities to other public
information systems (wikipedia).

And then : to view this in the context of Art.

Where I am reminded of something I recently posted to my website:


an interview with JF Lyotard, from 1985:


BB: And that is the point where we find a lack of differentiation between
technological experimentation and the questions posed by art?

JFL: Even the most modest tinkler with software has an attitude that's
somehow "artistic" - an attitude of a kind of astonishment. And what that
means is that metaphysics, as Adorno puts it, goes into crisis at much the
same time as the rest of classical philosophy and that there's a way in
which it is going under as a result of a decline in the capacity it can have
for the creation of wide-ranging global systems that include the great and
final issues for which we feel a need. If there's a decline of metaphysics,
there's also a decline of everything that people in general call philosophy.
And this decline - which is something that Adorno grasped quite clearly -
shows us the history of the diaspora of philosophy as it wanders through
domains that can't be properly defined as philosophical, even though the
domain that can be properly defined as philosophical continues to exist.
What this means is that metaphysics, as Adorno puts it, goes under, along
with classical philosophy, even though certain people continue to practice
it as though it weren't in crisis at all.


I believe this decline of metaphysics is only apparent, as I would crudely
paraphrase Victoria Wilson's discussion from her book "The Secret Life of
Puppets" - that while we live in an Aristotelian world of science and
machinery, and we use the machines to surround ourselves with a Platonic
world of ideas, spirits, and metaphysics; where some of the most advanced
digital imaging software used is found in "The Lord of The Rings" and "Star

A problem arises: Technology should be used for human needs and interests,
even when these interests are at best metaphysical and philosophical - or at
worst, superstitious entertainment in the irony of fiction. [?]

And so irony creeps back in.

irony   | exclusion | state facts   | mystification | The Inner Circle


liken excludes those who have no interest in liken or its technology. It
does so through a statement of fact(?) It does this through a mystifying
interface cluttered with broken or snippets of icons and highly contexted
use of English(?) It does so for the benefit of the Inner Circle: i.e.: the
liken community(?)

Raymond Scott excluded those who listen to common pop music by using
machines to compose music for infants - infants who are more accepting of
his music than the parents - he does so transparently, making no illusions,
but clouding his creative process in the archetype of the scientist, for the
benefit of those who know and understand his work: his true listeners.

Lyotard provides a link: it is " the most modest tinkler with software has
an attitude that's somehow 'artistic' - an attitude of a kind of
astonishment. " 

It is that this all exists on the plain of creativity and human endeavour.
In this case, liken is the means by which the art object, the liken
community, is formed. It is this community, which exists not as pretence,
*but as fact*, that demonstrates that the irony model *does not map* liken,
and it is where it does not map that liken is *most valuable and

Where it maps least is in the community itself. Perhaps at this juncture, we
can say that net art is dead. Where is the astonishment? Or perhaps it
existed with too deep a sense of irony and perished like Dadaism, or perhaps
it never existed in the first place. If so, would it be possible that the
kind of community building that liken provides is the new art

---- that community based art is the actual edge we're looking at, and not
the work itself as itself [qua] artwork, internet based or otherwise? ----

It reminds me of when I was a resident at a zen center for about 14 months.
One could sit on one's own, but somehow, JUST SITTING with others made the
sitting better... We're all staring at the blank wall of existence like a
white canvas, or File | New Document, under the flickering light of candles
or the CRT, no matter what, we're still faced with the zero of the
signified. Against such implacability we collect together. We tell each
other stories to make sense of it and create metaphysics. It is not the
metaphysics itself that is of interest, but it is the community that is
formed to create it, much like here, in this little precious text world of
empyre, that the real work resides.

To me, that is the essence of liken. The technology shifts and changes, the
contents refer and cross refer, complexify, disappear, modify, modulate, and
vanish. I find the technology of liken [in fine] to be of no particular
interest. I find the ideas in liken [in time] to be interesting at times,
depending on the subject, but  what is interesting is how liken
self-describes itself as a self-informing community. It's the people that
make it worthwhile, and what they say to each other in the liken space. And
that community, shaped and defined by the technology becomes the art work,
IMNSHO. Issues of interface, code, virtuality, whatever - this doesn't
really strike me as that interesting in itself, as I can see the liken
object recontextualised outside of Art, where it could become an extremely
valuable tool for developing communities within communities or within
institutions, say, academic programs, classrooms, or other places where
information is exchanged. At that point what is Art and what is not Art
becomes a meaningless question: like the Balinese, we just do everything as
best we can.

This is not to denigrate the programming in liken - it is brilliant - you
all get the Warwick Medal of Software Valour. At the same time, what is most
interesting about liken is not what it does, or what it is,

***but what it makes possible.***

I would recommend that the liken liki engine be brought to other domains and
contexts so that it can enrich human experience in those domains and
contexts, create interactive, self critical, self informing, self correcting
communities where none previously existed.

Empire, Vampire, Funeral Pyre, Empyre. The undead, the dead, and the living
thinking human experience. We all have the monkey brain chattering endlessly
about the minutae it finds, then occasionally noticing the moments of wonder
and amazement, anomalous, like stones in a stream. We live amid great
[va|e]mpires, the undead, the dead, walking among us. The platonic world of
ideas haunts us with the burden of [mys|his]tory as it distracts us from the
implacable zero of the Aristotelian machinery that makes our lives possible.
The tools of the Empire are the tools of the construction of the communities
that play by and inform themselves in the same manner as the Empire. In this
way, liken becomes another tool in the arsenal of opposition, using the
tools of information collection, distribution, and linkage so as to resist
the continuous atomisation of the Age of the Individual [in an overcrowded
planet of clocks gone mad].

Liken is not ironic. Irony doesn't map it.

Read and Read are two different words, as read and red sound different, but
read and red sound the same...

Some conclusions:

If criticalartware had the kind of default UI found at
http://wwww.sondheim.org, would it change? Is there a more optimal structure
for representing the data than the default? Is it possible to develop
reporting mechanisms? Can liken be as useful as soundCommons or Sevcom? OR
googlemail? Could liken be indispensable as an online classroom tool for a
graduate school as a forum for theory and information?

Can we *please* stop twiddling our thumbs over "new media"?

How can liken | criticalartware scale its community? Is it scalable?

Re: Open source Software.

I'm an avid member of slashdot and frequently moderate discussions there,
and slashdot is my primary source of info on this subject. From my
perception, there are a number of built in problems with FOSS (Free or Open
Source Software) and the various licenses that have obtained from these
programming practices. There was a recent article on slashdot that I thought
was very interesting about FOSS, GNU, Linux software, etc. Basically, the
Closed shops have an advantage: they can test their stuff to death and spend
huge amounts of time on unified GUIs, workflows, and design principles. With
FOSS, everything is up for grabs, and frequently the GUIs are hideous, the
workflows are poorly thought out, and the software is too frequently poorly

The basic issues of usability are what are preventing Linux from completely
unseating MS, and the inconsistent UIs and standards in Linux software make
transitioning to it problematical at best.

It's late - time for bed.

I wish you all the very best. This list is very important to me, and this
month's guests are also very tops in my book. the next few days are going to
be extremely busy for me, so I don't know if I will be able to respond to
responses before Monday. I will try.

kind regards,

and I promise to reply more often with shorter texts.


Henry Warwick

random sig:
(planet 10!!!)
(real soon!!!)

words | images | visions | sounds


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