—— Forwarded Message
Date: Sun, 25 Aug 2002 09:41:36 EDT
Subject: Re: A Modest Proposal for Josephine Bosma
A Modest Proposal for Josephine Bosma (firstname.lastname@example.org) final review
Net.Art: a laughing matter?
It is as if nature decided to complete the experience that the promoters
of the internet have created for us. Video game parlors, cybercafes,
advertisements for telecommunications and pseudoerotic displays of
youthful flesh dominate the landscape of nearly every city in the
developed world, and the wealthy quarters of most third world urban
centers. Streets are flooded with neon and electronic billboards that
provide much more light than what should be available at night.
One of the world's most hyped art milieu can be described in one word:
depressing. The most positive thing to say about net.culture probably is
its openness to artists who have access to computers, and are largely
white, male and western.
Net.culture is depressing for three reasons (I am not even counting the
curators' general ignorance of current art practices other than net.art,
which constitute the overwhelming majority of art history past and
present). First, the amount of frivolity and fatuous self-promotion and
the absence contemplation of the world's current cultural and political
situation other than generalized paranoia about surveillance and
libertarian rants about wanting freedom from any kind of control,
including rational judgement. The endless celebration of
post-structuralist theories of deterritorialization and fluidity are
truly over the top.
There is an overkill of (somehow disguised) anti-statism and
self-proclaimed avant garde status that makes one either grow irritated
or totally disinterested after a while. Second, this is the art form of
mostly R & D for the software industry and wireless communications, in
which almost everything is meaningless on purpose. That net.cultural
theorists need to preach and teach about what the avant garde supposedly
"is" leads to a third more poignant reason for depression: Net.art is
above all formalist and formally predictable. There is very little
conceptual depth or anything else substantive, intellectually
provocative or profound about it. That is, if one does not count the
rather kitschy dramatic effect of the curatorial lingo hyping most new
media shows that rivals the advertising copy of Silicon Valley.
Individual artists and art works seem to be drowning in it, something
they actually deserve.
Of course it is a relief to see a major art form that reflects the way
the world is closing down. It sounds clichZ