[-empyre-] Thanks to Craig Saper, and Welcome Anna Munster

Anna Munster a.munster at unsw.edu.au
Wed Sep 14 08:23:31 AEST 2016

Thanks Tim, lovely to ‘netter’ with you all once more on empyre…I am also being 'held-up' by the moderating software due to it only wanting plain text! That is very 1990s!!! So sorry for the lag....

It would/will/is easy for this topic to spiral into nostalgia. I hope to prevent myself from easily slipping in to the ‘then’. And Craig’s last post reminded me that there are many ‘thens’….

Hence I’ve decided to choose 3 trajectories that pulsed in the ‘90s and continue to pulse now through 'net-art’ as it continues, returns to, or refuses preoccupations with these 3 across the ‘then’ and ‘now’:

finance, feminism, futurity
…..not what we necessarily associate with net art, indeed! And yet, many of us will easily find resonances across the last 25 or so years with these.

Let’s start with finance:
Then: Heath Bunting ‘Own, Be Owned, or Remain Invisible’, 1998: http://www.irational.org/_readme.html  

Classically this work is understood as addressing the commercialisation of the net. But I’d also like to see it as portentous of not simply commercialisation of a space somehow deemed ‘noncommercial’ prior to the 1990s (or at least prior to the WWW circa 1994). I’d like to see this as really prescient offinalncialisation as a capture of the forces of networking. How?
a) It’s use of the hyperlink to connect almost every word back to a ‘dot.com' domain arrived almost in the middle of the 1995–2001 (approximately) rise and collapse of the internet and tech stocks bubble. I’d suggest that this work was timely not because it evidenced commercialisation but because it enacts - over time - the ascension and fall of ‘dot-com’ domains that precisely marked the beginning of speculative networked financialisation as we know it today
b) In its use of the hyperlink - which trades words for dot coms – it reveals the beginnings of the ways in which ‘clicks’ start to form transactions and begin to function as online currency. (see this great article for an early insight in to the hyperlink as net currency: 'Links and Power: The Political Economy of Linking on the Web', Jill Walker, 2002: http://jilltxt.net/txt/linksandpower.html). So Heath's work was prescient of the whole online economy of ‘click-throughs’.  

Now: I invite you to suggest a more contemporary (when is ‘now' now??) net art work that might sit alongside Heath’s work as a continuation - conjunctive or disjunctive – of a critical intervention in to the networked financialisation.

cheers Anna
Anna Munster
Associate Professor,
Faculty of Art and Design
P.O Box 259
NSW 2021
a.munster at unsw.edu.au

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