[-empyre-] the hegemonic

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Mon Aug 25 23:32:43 EST 2008

Hi Johannes & all,

 >In your last comment, Marc, you mention a shift amongst net
 >artists that you observe..... can you give a couple of examples
 >of what is meant by 'ecologically conscious', and where do they
 >shift to (in terms of venues or means of production or content?

Yes, this is an interesting question.

One example is Kate Rich & Kayle Brandon who have been involved in some 
interesting projects . Kate Rich has worked in the past (still does on 
different levels) with Heath Bunting and Natalie Jerimenko and a few 
others, who are part of the history of net art and media art.

The first project of theirs that I wish to highlight is Cube Cola. The 
text below, is featured on a small review that I wrote about the project 
in 2006 on the Thing.net blog. http://post.thing.net/node/1142

"We are wildcrafting our own cola from an on-line, open source recipe. A 
process developed through home-lab experimentation, merging domestic and 
scientific methadology." Rich & Brandon.

With a hackivist consciousness or attitude, they are exploring the 
creation of their own version(s) of Coca-Cola. Both are bar managers at 
the CubeCinema (Bristol UK), and have actively steered away from selling 
the 'real -thing', due to their feelings about the environmental 
practises of the multi-national company Coca-Cola. "We'd tried Pepsi and 
Virgin Cola and various others too," says Brandon, "but they weren't 
really a positive alternative. They were acceptable, but they weren't 
Coke. And people really want Coke."

Another article emerged which was written by James Flint, of all places 
the Guardian. Called The real thing. Or is it? 

The 2nd project that I wish to refer to by Kate Rich & Kayle Brandon is 
feral trade (import-export) which has been trading goods along social 
networks since 2003. On the Feral Trade web site there is an active 
database where nodes/collaborators of this physical, local and global 
social network add information about the sales of the products. It is "a 
public experiment trading goods over social networks. The use of the 
word 'feral' describes a process which is wilfully wild (as in pigeon) 
as opposed to romantically or nature-wild (wolf). The passage of goods 
can open up wormholes between diverse social settings, routes along 
which other information, techniques or individuals can potentially travel."

"The Feral Trade Courier is a live shipping database for a freight 
network running largely outside commercial systems. The database offers 
dedicated tracking of feral trade products in circulation, archives 
every shipment and generates freight documents on the fly."

In 2005 Ruth Catlow wrote an article about the project on furtherfield 
called - Feral Trade Coffee: A New Media For Social Networks. Here is a 
link: http://www.furtherfield.org/displayreview.php?review_id=142

At our gallery in North London called HTTP (http://http.uk.net/) we are 
a node supplier, and collection point where people can visit and buy 
Feral Trade Coffee. All procedures are open and accessible for people to 
see on the database, we have our own section where we update information 
of who we sell it to, although we we tend to drink a lot of it as well 
:-) - the link is rather long so I have shortened it, http://tinyurl.com/0

Another project worth mentioning is Geekosystem - http://geekosystem.org/

"The Geekosystem is a project by Julian Priest, David Merritt, and Adam 
Hyde. We have all been and are sometimes artists working with 
communities, technology, and anything else we find interesting. The 
Geekosystem itself is a system of geekery that takes places in art 
galleries and art spaces and invites local communities of geeks and 
non-geeks alike to come together and explore old technologies, discuss 
gadgetry, read old computer books, contemplate the ethics and ideologies 
of planned obsolescence, find new uses for hardware, make things, show 
others how to make things, and shred proprietary software manuals (and 
turn them into soil)."

This gives you more of an idea on how they went about the project:

Last year I was fortunate enough to be invited along with Ruth Catlow, 
as representatives for furtherfield to Banff. Julian Priest gave an 
excellent and enlightening presentation, Ruth wrote about it on the 
Furtherfield Blog - http://blog.furtherfield.org/?q=node/151

Here is an extract - "Julian talked about the ecological impact of the 
physical stuff of the Internet - all that copper wire. Then in a 
physical re-enactment of the Guifi logo, he snipped his ethernet cable 
and talked about community wireless networking and how user-owned 
wireless networks are able to provide broadband access even across great 
distances of rural Catalonia. Then he wrapped his laptop in tin-foil, 
unsuccessfully, to stop packets of data slipping out across the wireless 
network. Finally he ripped out the battery and dumped the whole shebang 
in a recycling box. Unplugging his microphone he adopted a recycled 
tin-foil megaphone to announce the remains of his performance."

Some of the projects I am discussing, we are also involved with in 
various ways, for instance we will be working with Access Space 
(http://access-space.org/) on a project which they have already got into 
fruition called 'Zero Dollar Laptop'. Ruth and I will be visiting them 
on a 2 week residency in September 08 to work with them on a couple of 
projects on how to incorporate digital art and ecology with ecological 
intentions - physical and locally networked, more about that after we 
have figured something out. For now, here is something that James 
Wallbank from Access space - The Zero Dollar Laptop Manifesto.

An extract - "Decentralised solutions like the zero dollar laptop may 
not seem to be as efficient as centralised solutions. However, 
efficiency isn't everything. Solutions of this character are more 
robust, more responsive to local circumstances, greener, more flexible, 
and they encourage local skill development and independence."

Also in 1999 James Wallbank wrote an interesting article called the 
Lowtech Manifesto.

We have started collecting 2nd hand hardware, pc's from people who have 
just had them stored away. Some of these individuals are interested in 
using this hardware more responsibly. At HTTP we will be setting up work 
shops on this soon in collaboration with Access Space.

Another Example is the small arts group called Glorious NInth.

Much of Glorious Ninth's earlier work used technology as part of its 
main medium, as well as its context. Exploiting the Internet whilst 
connecting with a larger art movement that many know as net art, which 
also includes crossovers with New Media Art. In recent years a few 
artists have decided to develop their practice further than just being 
on the Internet, as well as relying on digitally, networked media alone 
to fulfil their creative ventures. We are at a time now, where there has 
been a history of net art and new media art, that has gone through 
massive changes of creative and critically engaged processes, outside 
the traditional structures of institutional art, on the whole.

Although we are not witnessing a total denial or an escape from the 
Internet by artists, there is a definite move by artists such as Heath 
Bunting and Kate Rich, who use their art with a social hacking and 
activist approach, bringing about questions which also feature non art 
related, alternative economies, bio genetics, human networks, state 
control and other political issues to the fore, which also exist in an 
everyday context. Even though Glorious Ninth are not literally exploring 
in the same manner as these two other contemporary artists. They do 
share similarities in respect that they are no longer reliant on the 
Internet as a main conduit for expressing and showing their artworks. 
The other similar link between them is, that they are also not reliant 
on gallery settings for their work to be experienced and seen. They all 
use everyday settings to express their ideas. For instance, Glorious 
Ninth held their art project 'love_potion' at a local fair in Cornwall, 
UK. Outside of the usual framework of what is considered to be a likely 
environment to show art. It did not involve an art audience to view the 
work. It was presented and shared with local people, who were not 
visiting with prior knowledge that they were going to be part of an art 


There are other examples I could give but I am aware that this email is 
way too long now...


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