[-empyre-] Nake and the Notion of "Public"

Julian Oliver julian at selectparks.net
Fri May 9 21:28:17 EST 2008

..on or around Wed, May 07, 2008 at 10:13:43PM -0500, Patrick Lichty said:
> Just as a clarification, when Julian began from my missive and started talking about "the public". from the my 1st person anecdote from Nake, a taxonomic difference arose.
> What I meant when I invoked the quote "The Work is not Art until is is made Public" does not mean that it is aimed at "the public" (the masses), but placed "in public", i.e. in the commons or open space where "the/a public" might see it.
> Then, the issue of what constitutes "the public" become an issue.  But for me, that is another, however important, issue that I did not address in my earlier statement, or this one.  Maybe that's a discussion that might open up.

i think another thread "For whom is art "made"?" is very much on this
topic. i admit to taking a little license replying to G.H. Hovagimyan's
reply to your post such that the two threads might converge ;)

"in public" is, you're right, an interesting definition in itself and as 
G.H. Hovagimyan said, this definition is changing significantly with
low-cost mass distribution mechanisms like (primarily) the internet.

i do however question this idea that a website is any less rarefied than
a public gallery in many contexts. certainly it's open to an
international audience but it is difficult to argue that certain sites
don't attract their own very particular audiences, that they aren't
inadvertedly curated by where they are linked. in this way i wonder
whether a public art gallery is any more or less "in public" than a work
of net-art on a net-art blog. what's "net-art" to our precious "general
public"? how would they arrive at a blog about net-art?

i was commissioned by an art gallery to make a piece called packetgarden
<http://packetgarden.com> which i completed last year. it had just over
140,000 downloads within 1 month of its launch in February last year.

almost all of these downloads occurred after the work appeared in
various information visualisation blogs and others relating to network
security and graphic design.

was my work "in public"? i'm not so sure.. did i reach the kind of
audience the gallery hoped to reach online? probably not.. does the mere
potential for contact make the work any more public? 

what i do know is that i reached a whole lot of people generally
interested in the same sort of thing, guided by link trails left by
those before them.


julian oliver
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