The Network Is the Artwork (TM)
(Reverse Engineering the Author)
(At least) two "works" in Beyond Interface--Homework and Desktopp IS--expand both the traditional notion of a collaboration--between and among artists, writers, designers, programmers--and what constitutes "a work."
Bookchin describes the genesis of Homework:
"It began as a homework assignment for a class i was teaching.
[Intro to Computing in the Arts. http://jupiter.ucsd.edu/~bookchin/syllabus.html]
Heath Bunting found the url from his server, because I had linked to a page
of his (he one you are including in your show).
he then posted my url on 7-11.
[a listserv http://www.vuk.org/7-11/]
you saw some of the mail that followed.
"Alexei asked me if some artists could do the homework assignment for me, and they asked if i would grade it. I then received work from heath and vuk and alexei. I linked their projects to my homework page, posted grades and it continued from there.
[Final projects: http://jupiter.ucsd.edu/
Alexei then sent out a call for artists to do the homework to a number of
art lists, like rhizome, nettime, and some others.
[Attention uncertified [net][internet][web] artists!]
So the project emerged collaboratively from discussions that took place on
7-11 and with the artists mentioned above and then other artists, mostly
from the 7-11 mailing list, began submitting work.
"Authorship is complicated enough when it revolves around issues of the collaborative possibilities of the Net [Bookchin, Shulgin], the increasing commodification of language [Andujar, Bunting], or the authorship of "derivative" texts [e.g. through viewer interactions, Biggs].
"It becomes even more layered with issues of the authenticity/anonymity of remote communications [see Bookchin's 'Artist Statement,' which is authored by an anonymous source who purported to be critic Peter Weibel], as well as the conscious role playing that the Net engenders [note for example, that in Bookchin's Grade/Evaluation of Keiko Suzuki, she writes "woman to woman" but links to "The Transvestite Page." And in her Grade/Evaluation of Rachel Baker, she writes: 'You would *almost* think that Keiko's work was done from a male perspective...']."
As much as Homework raises all these issues in exemplary ways, perhaps the most fascinating negotiation is how Bookchin manages to actually grade and evaluate a number of net.art projects. While on the surface, it is all in good fun, Bookchin not only does grade the work (A-F) but manages to get in some succinct lectures about the three C's of the computer, throw her art history weight around, anoint a couple of new sub-genres of net.art, skewer net demi gods, and generally hold the line against work that does not meet the assignment. It is good fun. It's also a lot to find out.
Bookchin's "Grade Evaluation" for Shulgin's "Homework version 2"
[N.B. Doc title = "<A HREF="http://jupiter.ucsd.edu/~bookchin/Alexei2.html" TARGET="_new">Claiming the rights to your idea</A>"]
[<A HREF="http://www.vuk.org" TARGET="_new">Vuk Cosic</A>} I am glad you're admitting the 7-11 submissions it is a bit like if Picasso and Braque and Gris would join some students in California at DIY Cubism class in 1908. [Bookchin] your modesty is charming! [Cosic] We did have some dialogue about it and yes, that is the whole idea, to feel better in this context than in, for instance, Kassel. Or at least, to express the authentic feeling that the two are equal. [Bookchin] yes, it worked I think--and not just as a posture, but in actuality.. [Cosic] I am notifying you officially that on this particular point the agreement is total, congratulations. Homework began as a class assignment for Natalie Bookchin's web class at UCSD. A number of net artists became aware of her syllabus and wanted to participate in the project. They completed the assignment and received a comment and/or a grade. The site posts both the work of students and net artists including Vuk Cosik and Alexi Shulgin simultaneously.