Forward from Christiane Paul Re: [-empyre-] Is Modernity our Antiquity

dear List,

[Christiane's mail server doesn't like plain text, and our mailman only reads plain, so once again here is a forward from her.
thanks for everyone's patience with balky technology -cm]

From: <>
Date: March 2, 2006 1:48:40 PM PST
To: <>
Subject: RE: Forward from Lucio Agra: Re: [-empyre-] Is Modernity our Antiquity:Introducing DIrk Vekemans

"Lucio Agra" wrote:

I've been sustaining - as a rather personal point o view - that what
separates modernity to contemporaneity has to do with a kind of gap,
established 'round the 80's when something great was expected but
never happened (most of people inisted in the punk slogan "no
future"). In fact it happened, I mean, the novelty, the things to
change came with computers which really exploded, globally after
Reagan/Thatcher era, in the early 90s.

The breakthrough of digital technologies on a "mass consumer" level
(I don't mean to disregard issues of access, for economic and other
reasons) has certainly profoundly shaped contemporaneity and
contributed to establishing one of several gaps or breaks with
modernity that occurred in the 80s / 90s.

 From then on, I would say my personal history - and, may I say, I
believe the history of many, many colleagues - begin to seem quite
similar to what Dirk described about himself. Including the aspect
of  performance acts, the opinions about avant-garde of the 20s, what
led  us to see in the work of artists like Schwitters, the chance to
stablish bridges between old and new times.

I think it is interesting that digital technologies have
simultaneously contributed to the above-mentioned breaks and at the
same time established numerous bridges to previous art forms and
movements, seemingly building on them. You mention people such as
Schwitters and Schlemmer and the Bauhaus (the idea of the digital
bauhaus has been much discussed in recent years). The connections
between computational art and randonmness, readymades, and event-
performance (Dada, Duchamp, Fluxus, Cage) as well as the conceptual
art of the 60s are becoming part of the canon of "new media art

But, it is worth to observe, once again, it is not their work, but
their procedure what is essential for us today to understand what are
the steps we are are making into a new idea of future...

I would tend to agree with that. The connection to these previous art
forms very often lies more in the process than the work itself...


On 3/1/06, Christina McPhee <> wrote: Hi -empyre-

another guest is artist/poet Dirk Vekemans  Dirk writes:

"In 1979 I  very much wanted to be a writer/ poet. I noticed i didn't
have much to write about that made any sense, so i quit. I had a
great time working in bars and kitchens, enjoying an unlikely
personal dérive that lasted some ten years.

 From 1989 onward i did have (or at least presumed to have) something
to write about that made sense, so i started to learn how to write
decently, following Horatius' adagio 'nonum prematur in anno' rather
strictly. The birth of my eldest daughter in 1993 and my other two
darlings later on  marked and ensured my re-entry into society as a
'responsible' worker unit.
When i got to a stage that i thought my literary work had reached
some maturity (let's say 1996, the same year that i organised a
poetic manifestation in my hometown Louvain - "Leuven per Vers",
featuring poetic performances on several locations in the city, it
was quite a success), i discovered that (trying to) publish(ing) it
would render it meaningless in the fastest way possible. Moreover I
didn't feel very related to the current literary scene engaged in
publishing collections of verse.  Instead i chose to make everything
i wrote so far available on the internet, and started investing my
spare time in researching ways to make text 'work' on screen.
Gradually, partly because i thought the available techniques weren't
up to it yet but mostly out of economic necessity my interest in
making IT work the artistic way faded and i endulged myself in the
day to day practice of producing commercial websites and multimedia

Nowadays i'm still active as a professional web-designer/programmer,
but i have to admit i'm basically and inevitably a poet/writer trying
to find ways to contribute to establishing a transvergent, meaningful
form of digital writing.
Basicly I recently (end 2004) decided that I do want to tune down the
importance of my commercial work and spend more time on my
'artistic'  exploits by re-initiating and trying to update Kurt
Schwitters' Merzbau to my personal and present views. The Neue
Kathedrale des erotischen Elends is conceived as a highly personal
'Gesamstkunstwerk', a procedural form of art whose primary form of
expression at this moment may be located most visbly in the virtual
plane of its digital existence at , but the
process incorporating these networked events also lead to material
expressions outside the digital grid and unfoldings in time through
performance. These days it appears to be predominantly a rather
monstrous growth on the www."

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