FW: Questioning the Frame

Posted by Dominique Fontaine | Thu Dec 16th 2004 2:43 p.m.

-----Original Message-----
From: On Behalf Of coco fusco : animas999@yahoo.com

IN THESE TIMES

http://www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/article/1750/
Questioning the Frame
Thoughts about maps and spatial logic in the global
present
By Coco FuscoDecember 16, 2004

Terms such as " mapping," "borders," "hacking,"
"trans-nationalism," "identity as spatial," and so on
have been popularized in recent years by new media
theories' celebration of "the networks"-a catch-all
phrase for the modes of communication and exchange
facilitated by the Internet.

We should proceed with caution in using this
terminology because it accords strategic primacy to
space and simultaneously downplays time-i.e., history.
It also evades categories of embodied difference such
as race, gender and class, and in doing so prevents us
from understanding how the historical development of
those differences has shaped our contemporary
worldview.

Technocentric fantasy

The rhetoric of mapping and networks conflates the way
technological systems operate with modern human
communication. According to this mode of thought we
are to believe that we live inside the world of
William Gibson's Neuromancer and that salvation is
only attainable via very specific technological
expertise unleashed against the system-i.e., hacking.
Consider the heroes of Hollywood sci-fi blockbusters
such as The Matrix whose power lies in their knowledge
of "the code." It is implied that we operate in
networks because computers and the Internet have
restructured "our" lives and because global economic
systems have turned us into global citizens. Hacking
then comes to stand for all forms of critical
engagement with preexistent power structures.

I'm just a little too old to believe these new media
mantras unquestioningly. This rhetoric implies two
possible explanations for the difference between the
networked present and the non-networked past.

The first explanation suggests that no one on the left
before the age of the Internet practiced subversive
manipulation of existent media, tactical intervention,
investigative reporting and infiltration of power
structures. It also would seem that before the dawning
of the networks, no one knew what being an organic
intellectual was about, no one elaborated alternative
communication systems and no one was aware of or
sensed a connection to geographic regions other than
Europe.

The second explanation would be that electronic
communication has produced a form of networking that
is so radically different as to imply a neat break
with the past. In either case, these arguments
conveniently situate their advocates outside history,
since either way tactical media practitioners have
nothing of value to inherit from the past.

While I can understand that there might be a dearth of
knowledge about tactical interventions of previous
centuries, I am perplexed by the apparent loss of
short-term memory of many cultural theorists now in
vogue, who were alive and active in the '70s.

Can we forget Daniel Ellsberg's publishing of the
Pentagon Papers, the uncovering of the Watergate
scandal, the break-in to an FBI office by an anonymous
group that led to revelations of COINTELPRO and the
Freedom of Information Act, the many Senate
investigations of FBI corruption, the widespread
solidarity with Third World independence movements,
the plethora of underground and alternative presses
and global mail art networks-all operated by radical
activists, artists and intellectuals? Those of us who
can at least recall the ways that these strategic
interventions transformed political and cultural life
in that decade necessarily cast a skeptical glance at
the messianic claims of technocentrists.

The shift from Eurocentric internationalism to a more
globally inclusive worldview came long before the age
of the Internet. It was launched outside Europe and
America, and emanated from the geopolitical margins.
The process took place across a range of fields of
knowledge, culture and politics. This revision of the
world picture was catalyzed by postwar decolonization;
the Non-Aligned Movement launched in 1961; and civil
rights struggles in the developed world, including the
Black Power and Chicano movements-all of which
invariably affirmed their alliances with Third World
revolutions. This political process was expanded upon
by a postcolonial understanding that various diasporas
shared transnational connections and that these
diasporas were produced by the economics and politics
of colonialism and imperialism. The historical bases
of these movements are consistently obfuscated by the
technocentric rhetoric of networks and mapping that
emanate from Europe, North America and Australia.

Instead of dealing with these histories, contemporary
discourses on globalism and new technology tend to
dismiss postcolonial discourse as "mere identity
politics." They tend to confuse bureaucratic efforts
to institutionally separate the concerns of ethnic
minorities with what always have been the much broader
agendas of anti-racist political struggles and
postcolonial cultural endeavors.

I am a great admirer of the practice of electronic
civil disobedience and have used "hacktivist" software
such as Floodnet to engage in online protest actions
myself. But I find the willed historical amnesia of
new media theory to be quite suspect, and even
dangerous. One of the reasons I chose to make a/k/a
Mrs. George Gilbert, a video art piece about the
Angela Davis case, was because I wanted to reexamine
crucial histories that are now being forgotten within
the contemporary conversations on globalization. The
alienation caused by multinational corporate
domination (otherwise known as Empire) that many
middle-class young adults in the Global North feel is
just the last chapter in a long history of reactions
against imperial projects.
Mapping mistakes

Another issue of concern is the new media culture's
fascination with mapping-a fascination that it shares
with the military strategists. The news of the Iraq
war frequently involves men in uniform pointing to or
better yet walking across maps of various Middle
Eastern countries-so when I then walk into galleries
and cultural conferences in Europe and find more men
(without uniforms) playing with maps, I start to
wonder about the politics of those representations.

In the American media, maps dominate representations
of warfare. While realistic depictions of the violence
of war via photographs and film have been banned from
American television news, maps are acceptable to those
in power because they dehumanize the targets.
Similarly, in the context of the art world, maps have
come to abstract and thereby silence individual and
group testimony.

New media culture uses maps to read the world in terms
of extremes. Contemporary cultural theory is rife with
renderings that celebrate macro views and micro views
of the workings of the world, both social and
biological-which is to say, maps of vast spaces and
physical phenomena and maps of the most minuscule
thing. We hear over and over again about global
systems and panoptic vision on the one hand and genome
chains and nano-entities on the other. When I first
noticed this phenomenon I was struck by how it
complements the resurgence of formalist art
criticism's love affair with the grid. By this I am
referring to the return in the '90s to the definition
of art as a search for "perfect forms," and a
celebration of the formal characteristics of objects
and surfaces. What I have become more concerned about
as time goes on, however, is how this fetishizing of
spatial extremes enables the resurgence of Descartes'
idea that humans are rational, autonomous individuals
and that the human mind and mathematical principles
are the source for all real knowledge.

However objective they may appear, maps do have a
point of view, and that is one of privileged
super-human sight, of safe distance and of
omniscience. The mapmaker charts an entire field of
vision, an entire world, and in doing so he (yes he)
plays God. Whether you are beholding the map as a
viewer or charting it as the cartographer, you rule
the world before you, you control it, and, in putting
everything in its place, you substitute a global whole
established through pictorial arrangement for an
actual dynamic engagement with individual elements and
entities. The psychological motive behind assuming
that position of power is not questioned, nor is the
predominance of white male techno-elites in that
discourse seen as anything more than incidental.

It is as if more than four decades of postmodern
critique of the Cartesian subject had suddenly
evaporated. Those critical discourses that unmasked
the way universals suppress difference, which gave
voice to the personal experience of women, the poor
and disenfranchised minorities, are treated as
inherently flawed by both the progressive and
conservative discourses of globalism. Progressive
media advocates dismiss these discourses of difference
as "essentialist" while Republicans decry them as "the
tyranny of special interests." But both provide
ideological justification for the dismantling of
legislation protecting civil rights.

Viewing the world as a map eliminates time, focuses
disproportionately on space and dehumanizes life. In
the name of a politics of global connectedness,
artists and activists too often substitute an abstract
"connectedness" for any real engagement with people in
other places or even in their own locale.

What gets lost in this focus on mapping is the view of
the world from the ground: lived experience. What is
ignored is the pervasiveness of the well-orchestrated
and highly selective visual culture that the majority
of Americans consume during most of their waking
hours. Most people are not looking through microscopes
and telescopes and digital mapping systems to find
truth about the world. They are watching reality TV,
sitcoms, the Super Bowl, MTV and Fox News, all of
which also offer maps of a completely different kind:
conspiracy theories that pit innocent Americans
against the Axis of Evil, embedded journalists'
hallucinatory misreadings of foreign conflicts,
allegories of empowerment through consumption and
endlessly recycled, biblically inspired narratives of
sin and redemption.

Going off-grid

Finally we should consider what is being left off the
maps and why? What has happened, for example, to
institutional self-critique in the art world? Why has
such examination become taboo in exhibitions or
unpopular with artists who gravitate to political
subjects? Why in the midst of myriad investigations of
corporate control of politics and culture is there
little or no attention paid to corporate control of
the museums and of corporate influence in art
collecting? Why is it acceptable to the art world for
an artist to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
but not to address the pressure put on the organizers
of global art exhibitions to showcase a
disproportionate number of Israeli artists? Why is it
fine for black artists to celebrate the construction
of black style but not to make visible the virtual
absence of black people as arbiters in the power
structures of the art institutions, galleries,
magazines and auction houses where black art is given
economic and aesthetic value?

We live in a very dangerous time in which the right to
express dissent and to raise questions about the
workings of power is seriously imperiled by
fundamentalisms of many kinds. Now more than ever we
need to keep the lessons of history foremost in our
minds and to defend the critical discourses and
practices that enable differing experiences and
perspectives to be heard and understood.

There are just too many important parallels to be
drawn between COINTELPRO and the excesses of law
enforcement brought about by the Patriot Act to be
dismissive of history. Socially conscious artists and
activists, rather than embracing tactics that rely on
dreams of omniscience, would do well to examine the
history of globalism, networks, dissent and collective
actions in order to understand that they are rooted in
the geopolitical and cultural margins.

Coco Fusco is an interdisciplinary artist and an
associate professor at Columbia University's School of
the Arts. Her most recent publication is Only Skin
Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self (Abrams,
2003).
  • Pall Thayer | Thu Dec 16th 2004 3:53 p.m.
    This is a really strange article. It would be interesting to know what
    mapping works she's talking about and how much research she did into
    this type of work in general before writing the article. And what's up
    with the hacker-bashing?

    > the messianic claims of technocentrists.

    What claims might those be? I don't think any of todays "net-savvy"
    activists think that they *invented* activism aside from the point that
    she starts out talking about maps and then all of the sudden, without
    any warning, she's talking about activists as if they're one and the same.

    Also, she criticizes maps for "...having a point of view"? Well, what
    work of art doesn't have a particular "point of view"? To suggest that
    this is a fault of the medium or the artists is ludicrous.

    I don't think she did a whole lot of research into map based or social
    artworks for this article. It almost sounds like she's basing this
    critique on one, maybe two, projects.

    Pall Thayer

    Dominique Fontaine wrote:
    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: On Behalf Of coco fusco : animas999@yahoo.com
    >
    > IN THESE TIMES
    >
    > http://www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/article/1750/
    > Questioning the Frame
    > Thoughts about maps and spatial logic in the global
    > present
    > By Coco FuscoDecember 16, 2004
    >
    > Terms such as " mapping," "borders," "hacking,"
    > "trans-nationalism," "identity as spatial," and so on
    > have been popularized in recent years by new media
    > theories' celebration of "the networks"-a catch-all
    > phrase for the modes of communication and exchange
    > facilitated by the Internet.
    >
    > We should proceed with caution in using this
    > terminology because it accords strategic primacy to
    > space and simultaneously downplays time-i.e., history.
    > It also evades categories of embodied difference such
    > as race, gender and class, and in doing so prevents us
    > from understanding how the historical development of
    > those differences has shaped our contemporary
    > worldview.
    >
    > Technocentric fantasy
    >
    > The rhetoric of mapping and networks conflates the way
    > technological systems operate with modern human
    > communication. According to this mode of thought we
    > are to believe that we live inside the world of
    > William Gibson's Neuromancer and that salvation is
    > only attainable via very specific technological
    > expertise unleashed against the system-i.e., hacking.
    > Consider the heroes of Hollywood sci-fi blockbusters
    > such as The Matrix whose power lies in their knowledge
    > of "the code." It is implied that we operate in
    > networks because computers and the Internet have
    > restructured "our" lives and because global economic
    > systems have turned us into global citizens. Hacking
    > then comes to stand for all forms of critical
    > engagement with preexistent power structures.
    >
    > I'm just a little too old to believe these new media
    > mantras unquestioningly. This rhetoric implies two
    > possible explanations for the difference between the
    > networked present and the non-networked past.
    >
    > The first explanation suggests that no one on the left
    > before the age of the Internet practiced subversive
    > manipulation of existent media, tactical intervention,
    > investigative reporting and infiltration of power
    > structures. It also would seem that before the dawning
    > of the networks, no one knew what being an organic
    > intellectual was about, no one elaborated alternative
    > communication systems and no one was aware of or
    > sensed a connection to geographic regions other than
    > Europe.
    >
    > The second explanation would be that electronic
    > communication has produced a form of networking that
    > is so radically different as to imply a neat break
    > with the past. In either case, these arguments
    > conveniently situate their advocates outside history,
    > since either way tactical media practitioners have
    > nothing of value to inherit from the past.
    >
    > While I can understand that there might be a dearth of
    > knowledge about tactical interventions of previous
    > centuries, I am perplexed by the apparent loss of
    > short-term memory of many cultural theorists now in
    > vogue, who were alive and active in the '70s.
    >
    > Can we forget Daniel Ellsberg's publishing of the
    > Pentagon Papers, the uncovering of the Watergate
    > scandal, the break-in to an FBI office by an anonymous
    > group that led to revelations of COINTELPRO and the
    > Freedom of Information Act, the many Senate
    > investigations of FBI corruption, the widespread
    > solidarity with Third World independence movements,
    > the plethora of underground and alternative presses
    > and global mail art networks-all operated by radical
    > activists, artists and intellectuals? Those of us who
    > can at least recall the ways that these strategic
    > interventions transformed political and cultural life
    > in that decade necessarily cast a skeptical glance at
    > the messianic claims of technocentrists.
    >
    > The shift from Eurocentric internationalism to a more
    > globally inclusive worldview came long before the age
    > of the Internet. It was launched outside Europe and
    > America, and emanated from the geopolitical margins.
    > The process took place across a range of fields of
    > knowledge, culture and politics. This revision of the
    > world picture was catalyzed by postwar decolonization;
    > the Non-Aligned Movement launched in 1961; and civil
    > rights struggles in the developed world, including the
    > Black Power and Chicano movements-all of which
    > invariably affirmed their alliances with Third World
    > revolutions. This political process was expanded upon
    > by a postcolonial understanding that various diasporas
    > shared transnational connections and that these
    > diasporas were produced by the economics and politics
    > of colonialism and imperialism. The historical bases
    > of these movements are consistently obfuscated by the
    > technocentric rhetoric of networks and mapping that
    > emanate from Europe, North America and Australia.
    >
    > Instead of dealing with these histories, contemporary
    > discourses on globalism and new technology tend to
    > dismiss postcolonial discourse as "mere identity
    > politics." They tend to confuse bureaucratic efforts
    > to institutionally separate the concerns of ethnic
    > minorities with what always have been the much broader
    > agendas of anti-racist political struggles and
    > postcolonial cultural endeavors.
    >
    > I am a great admirer of the practice of electronic
    > civil disobedience and have used "hacktivist" software
    > such as Floodnet to engage in online protest actions
    > myself. But I find the willed historical amnesia of
    > new media theory to be quite suspect, and even
    > dangerous. One of the reasons I chose to make a/k/a
    > Mrs. George Gilbert, a video art piece about the
    > Angela Davis case, was because I wanted to reexamine
    > crucial histories that are now being forgotten within
    > the contemporary conversations on globalization. The
    > alienation caused by multinational corporate
    > domination (otherwise known as Empire) that many
    > middle-class young adults in the Global North feel is
    > just the last chapter in a long history of reactions
    > against imperial projects.
    > Mapping mistakes
    >
    > Another issue of concern is the new media culture's
    > fascination with mapping-a fascination that it shares
    > with the military strategists. The news of the Iraq
    > war frequently involves men in uniform pointing to or
    > better yet walking across maps of various Middle
    > Eastern countries-so when I then walk into galleries
    > and cultural conferences in Europe and find more men
    > (without uniforms) playing with maps, I start to
    > wonder about the politics of those representations.
    >
    > In the American media, maps dominate representations
    > of warfare. While realistic depictions of the violence
    > of war via photographs and film have been banned from
    > American television news, maps are acceptable to those
    > in power because they dehumanize the targets.
    > Similarly, in the context of the art world, maps have
    > come to abstract and thereby silence individual and
    > group testimony.
    >
    > New media culture uses maps to read the world in terms
    > of extremes. Contemporary cultural theory is rife with
    > renderings that celebrate macro views and micro views
    > of the workings of the world, both social and
    > biological-which is to say, maps of vast spaces and
    > physical phenomena and maps of the most minuscule
    > thing. We hear over and over again about global
    > systems and panoptic vision on the one hand and genome
    > chains and nano-entities on the other. When I first
    > noticed this phenomenon I was struck by how it
    > complements the resurgence of formalist art
    > criticism's love affair with the grid. By this I am
    > referring to the return in the '90s to the definition
    > of art as a search for "perfect forms," and a
    > celebration of the formal characteristics of objects
    > and surfaces. What I have become more concerned about
    > as time goes on, however, is how this fetishizing of
    > spatial extremes enables the resurgence of Descartes'
    > idea that humans are rational, autonomous individuals
    > and that the human mind and mathematical principles
    > are the source for all real knowledge.
    >
    > However objective they may appear, maps do have a
    > point of view, and that is one of privileged
    > super-human sight, of safe distance and of
    > omniscience. The mapmaker charts an entire field of
    > vision, an entire world, and in doing so he (yes he)
    > plays God. Whether you are beholding the map as a
    > viewer or charting it as the cartographer, you rule
    > the world before you, you control it, and, in putting
    > everything in its place, you substitute a global whole
    > established through pictorial arrangement for an
    > actual dynamic engagement with individual elements and
    > entities. The psychological motive behind assuming
    > that position of power is not questioned, nor is the
    > predominance of white male techno-elites in that
    > discourse seen as anything more than incidental.
    >
    > It is as if more than four decades of postmodern
    > critique of the Cartesian subject had suddenly
    > evaporated. Those critical discourses that unmasked
    > the way universals suppress difference, which gave
    > voice to the personal experience of women, the poor
    > and disenfranchised minorities, are treated as
    > inherently flawed by both the progressive and
    > conservative discourses of globalism. Progressive
    > media advocates dismiss these discourses of difference
    > as "essentialist" while Republicans decry them as "the
    > tyranny of special interests." But both provide
    > ideological justification for the dismantling of
    > legislation protecting civil rights.
    >
    > Viewing the world as a map eliminates time, focuses
    > disproportionately on space and dehumanizes life. In
    > the name of a politics of global connectedness,
    > artists and activists too often substitute an abstract
    > "connectedness" for any real engagement with people in
    > other places or even in their own locale.
    >
    > What gets lost in this focus on mapping is the view of
    > the world from the ground: lived experience. What is
    > ignored is the pervasiveness of the well-orchestrated
    > and highly selective visual culture that the majority
    > of Americans consume during most of their waking
    > hours. Most people are not looking through microscopes
    > and telescopes and digital mapping systems to find
    > truth about the world. They are watching reality TV,
    > sitcoms, the Super Bowl, MTV and Fox News, all of
    > which also offer maps of a completely different kind:
    > conspiracy theories that pit innocent Americans
    > against the Axis of Evil, embedded journalists'
    > hallucinatory misreadings of foreign conflicts,
    > allegories of empowerment through consumption and
    > endlessly recycled, biblically inspired narratives of
    > sin and redemption.
    >
    > Going off-grid
    >
    > Finally we should consider what is being left off the
    > maps and why? What has happened, for example, to
    > institutional self-critique in the art world? Why has
    > such examination become taboo in exhibitions or
    > unpopular with artists who gravitate to political
    > subjects? Why in the midst of myriad investigations of
    > corporate control of politics and culture is there
    > little or no attention paid to corporate control of
    > the museums and of corporate influence in art
    > collecting? Why is it acceptable to the art world for
    > an artist to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
    > but not to address the pressure put on the organizers
    > of global art exhibitions to showcase a
    > disproportionate number of Israeli artists? Why is it
    > fine for black artists to celebrate the construction
    > of black style but not to make visible the virtual
    > absence of black people as arbiters in the power
    > structures of the art institutions, galleries,
    > magazines and auction houses where black art is given
    > economic and aesthetic value?
    >
    > We live in a very dangerous time in which the right to
    > express dissent and to raise questions about the
    > workings of power is seriously imperiled by
    > fundamentalisms of many kinds. Now more than ever we
    > need to keep the lessons of history foremost in our
    > minds and to defend the critical discourses and
    > practices that enable differing experiences and
    > perspectives to be heard and understood.
    >
    > There are just too many important parallels to be
    > drawn between COINTELPRO and the excesses of law
    > enforcement brought about by the Patriot Act to be
    > dismissive of history. Socially conscious artists and
    > activists, rather than embracing tactics that rely on
    > dreams of omniscience, would do well to examine the
    > history of globalism, networks, dissent and collective
    > actions in order to understand that they are rooted in
    > the geopolitical and cultural margins.
    >
    > Coco Fusco is an interdisciplinary artist and an
    > associate professor at Columbia University's School of
    > the Arts. Her most recent publication is Only Skin
    > Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self (Abrams,
    > 2003).
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    > +
    > -> post: list@rhizome.org
    > -> questions: info@rhizome.org
    > -> subscribe/unsubscribe: http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
    > -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
    > -> visit: on Fridays the Rhizome.org web site is open to non-members
    > +
    > Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
    > Membership Agreement available online at http://rhizome.org/info/29.php
    >

    --
    _______________________________
    Pall Thayer
    artist/teacher
    http://www.this.is/pallit
    http://pallit.lhi.is/panse

    Lorna
    http://www.this.is/lorna
    _______________________________
  • Jason Van Anden | Fri Dec 17th 2004 5:27 a.m.
    Wow. Thank you Coco (c/o Dominique).

    I think that everyone in this forum ought to read this article. It is incredibly insightful and very well stated (I wish I could write like her). This kind of introspection is required no matter what the discourse. The title brings the article perfectly into focus.

    History is given the license to repeat itself because of "revolutions" that blindly seek to one-up the knowledge that preceeded it. Whether this is motivated by arrogance or ignorance... I suppose does not really matter.

    Oil paint was "new-media" at some point.

    Careful: what's old is new.

    Jason Van Anden
    www.smileproject.com
  • Pall Thayer | Fri Dec 17th 2004 6:49 a.m.
    I agree, everyone here should read this article. But I wouldn't say it's
    insightfull. It's both arrogant and ignorant. I don't think anyone
    thinks that social networks came into existence via the internet.
    Hackers are not what she seems to think they are. You don't have to have
    any special knowledge to be part of an internet-based social network
    beyond knowing how to use a browser. She criticizes entire movements
    within the digital arts without mentioning a single piece. How can we
    take her seriously? Reminding us of some historical facts and issues is
    fine but to do it in a way that is demeaning to the work that's being
    done today is wrong. I think she should've done some more research
    before writing this.

    Jason Van Anden wrote:
    > Wow. Thank you Coco (c/o Dominique).
    >
    > I think that everyone in this forum ought to read this article. It is incredibly insightful and very well stated (I wish I could write like her). This kind of introspection is required no matter what the discourse. The title brings the article perfectly into focus.
    >
    > History is given the license to repeat itself because of "revolutions" that blindly seek to one-up the knowledge that preceeded it. Whether this is motivated by arrogance or ignorance... I suppose does not really matter.
    >
    > Oil paint was "new-media" at some point.
    >
    > Careful: what's old is new.
    >
    > Jason Van Anden
    > www.smileproject.com
    >
    >
    >
    >
    > +
    > -> post: list@rhizome.org
    > -> questions: info@rhizome.org
    > -> subscribe/unsubscribe: http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
    > -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
    > -> visit: on Fridays the Rhizome.org web site is open to non-members
    > +
    > Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
    > Membership Agreement available online at http://rhizome.org/info/29.php
    >

    --
    _______________________________
    Pall Thayer
    artist/teacher
    http://www.this.is/pallit
    http://pallit.lhi.is/panse

    Lorna
    http://www.this.is/lorna
    _______________________________
  • Rob Myers | Fri Dec 17th 2004 7:26 a.m.
    On Thursday, December 16, 2004, at 09:56PM, Dominique Fontaine <dfontaine@fondation-langlois.org> wrote:

    >-----Original Message-----
    >From: On Behalf Of coco fusco : animas999@yahoo.com
    > [...]
    >Terms such as " mapping," "borders," "hacking,"
    >"trans-nationalism," "identity as spatial," and so on
    >have been popularized in recent years by new media
    >theories' celebration of "the networks"-a catch-all
    >phrase for the modes of communication and exchange
    >facilitated by the Internet.

    Sweep that generalization!

    Which New Media Theories? What is a New Media Theory anyway? Exclusively by New Media Theories? Or have NMT simply soaked up more general humanities buzzwords and themes. Are all New Media Theories the same? Are there any examples or exemplars? Why doesn't the author give any?

    >We should proceed with caution in using this
    >terminology because it accords strategic primacy to

    Notice the primacy given to language, intentions, appearances. This is a critique of form, not content. Of style, not substance.

    >space and simultaneously downplays time-i.e., history.
    >It also evades categories of embodied difference such
    >as race, gender and class, and in doing so prevents us
    >from understanding how the historical development of
    >those differences has shaped our contemporary
    >worldview.

    Ignoring Einstein's spacetime for a moment, "categories of embodied difference" are themselves atemporal and ahistorical academic fantasies. If you want to actually achieve anything by historical materialist criticism, breaking class relations down into packets of "difference" only gets in the way.

    >Technocentric fantasy

    Yes, this is a critique of a technocentric fantasy, but a fantasy on the part of the author, not their imagined subject.

    >The rhetoric of mapping and networks conflates the way
    >technological systems operate with modern human
    >communication.

    Huh?

    >According to this mode of thought we
    >are to believe that we live inside the world of
    >William Gibson's Neuromancer

    This would be a polluted, brand-obsessed, corporate-dominated dystopia?

    >and that salvation is
    >only attainable via very specific technological
    >expertise unleashed against the system-i.e., hacking.

    "Hacking" is an ethic, a mode of activity. Not "skript kiddies" breaking into your PC. Neuromancer is twenty years old, wannabe cultural studies lecturers really should let it go and try some Neal Stevenson instead.

    >Consider the heroes of Hollywood sci-fi blockbusters
    >such as The Matrix whose power lies in their knowledge
    >of "the code." It is implied that we operate in
    >networks because computers and the Internet have
    >restructured "our" lives and because global economic
    >systems have turned us into global citizens. Hacking
    >then comes to stand for all forms of critical
    >engagement with preexistent power structures.

    In fact this is a more criticism of deconstruction and text-based retreat from real work in general. Actual hacking (not in the sense the author obviously misunderstands it) is the *creation* of something, the solving of a problem, a shamanic exercise of personal creative skill to answer a need, *not* just breaking something down.

    >I'm just a little too old to believe these new media
    >mantras unquestioningly.

    Except to criticise them

    >This rhetoric implies two
    >possible explanations for the difference between the
    >networked present and the non-networked past.

    == The misunderstanding of a misrepresented and generalised "rhetoric" can be distilled into two straw men.

    >The first explanation suggests that no one on the left

    Wtf has this to do with the "left"? Is technoutopianism leftist? Wired-ism tends to be "libertarian" (right-wing anarchistic).

    >before the age of the Internet practiced subversive
    >manipulation of existent media, tactical intervention,
    >investigative reporting and infiltration of power
    >structures. It also would seem that before the dawning
    >of the networks, no one knew what being an organic
    >intellectual was about, no one elaborated alternative
    >communication systems and no one was aware of or
    >sensed a connection to geographic regions other than
    >Europe.

    Where this judgement on the part of... who exactly? ...has been extracted from I don't know.
    Who does the author speak for in offering this description of ...someone... 's failings?

    >The second explanation would be that electronic
    >communication has produced a form of networking that
    >is so radically different as to imply a neat break
    >with the past.

    As opposed to an explanation that nothing has changed?

    These are both straw man arguments, ventriloquism without even a dummy.

    >In either case, these arguments
    >conveniently situate their advocates outside history,

    As they are designed to by the author. (That is, it's not that anyone holds these extra-historical postions, it's that the author can neatly isolate these straw men in this way).

    >since either way tactical media practitioners have
    >nothing of value to inherit from the past.
    >
    >While I can understand that there might be a dearth of
    >knowledge about tactical interventions of previous
    >centuries, I am perplexed by the apparent loss of
    >short-term memory of many cultural theorists now in
    >vogue, who were alive and active in the '70s.

    Such as the author.

    >Can we forget Daniel Ellsberg's publishing of the
    >Pentagon Papers, the uncovering of the Watergate
    >scandal, the break-in to an FBI office by an anonymous
    >group that led to revelations of COINTELPRO and the
    >Freedom of Information Act, the many Senate
    >investigations of FBI corruption, the widespread
    >solidarity with Third World independence movements,

    Sounds like "cracking" (what the author would misunderstand as "hacking") to me! Why would the existence of historical successes undermine or invalidate contemporary efforts?

    >the plethora of underground and alternative presses
    >and global mail art networks-all operated by radical
    >activists, artists and intellectuals?

    Are these examples of technological or sociological action? If the former, they are weak. If the latter, are these meant to be new? Look at C19th use of (and legislation regarding!) telecommunications networks. Whilst there is nothing new under the sun, the sun didn't first rise in the 1970s.

    >Those of us who
    >can at least recall the ways that these strategic
    >interventions transformed political and cultural life
    >in that decade necessarily cast a skeptical glance at
    >the messianic claims of technocentrists.

    And those with an interest in technology who have done their research cast a skeptical glance over "been there, done that" claims that don't mention precedents older than half a century.

    >The shift from Eurocentric internationalism to a more
    >globally inclusive worldview came long before the age
    >of the Internet. It was launched outside Europe and
    >America, and emanated from the geopolitical margins.

    How did we hear of this, then?

    >The process took place across a range of fields of
    >knowledge, culture and politics. This revision of the
    >world picture was catalyzed by postwar decolonization;
    >the Non-Aligned Movement launched in 1961; and civil
    >rights struggles in the developed world, including the
    >Black Power and Chicano movements-all of which
    >invariably affirmed their alliances with Third World
    >revolutions. This political process was expanded upon
    >by a postcolonial understanding that various diasporas
    >shared transnational connections and that these
    >diasporas were produced by the economics and politics
    >of colonialism and imperialism. The historical bases
    >of these movements are consistently obfuscated by the
    >technocentric rhetoric of networks and mapping that
    >emanate from Europe, North America and Australia.

    So the technology isn't inherently good, it's inherently evil? (Yes, that's a deliberate straw man. It is designed to reveal the flaw in the argument.) This is the very technological fixation the author claims to be criticising.

    >Instead of dealing with these histories, contemporary
    >discourses on globalism and new technology tend to
    >dismiss postcolonial discourse as "mere identity
    >politics." They tend to confuse bureaucratic efforts
    >to institutionally separate the concerns of ethnic
    >minorities with what always have been the much broader
    >agendas of anti-racist political struggles and
    >postcolonial cultural endeavors.

    Instead of dealing with technological change and inequality, of placing it in broader economic or even (gasp) historical context, we should try to return to the safe havens of "difference"?

    I'm loathe to recommend "No Logo" to anyone, but in this case I'll make an exception.

    >I am a great admirer of the practice of electronic
    >civil disobedience and have used "hacktivist" software
    >such as Floodnet to engage in online protest actions
    >myself.

    Never heard of that package. No real hacker would use an off-the-shelf package to achieve their own ends, and none would disrupt anyone else's work using it. "Hacktivism" is embarrasing, a cultural-studies-created misuse of a misunderstood word.

    >But I find the willed historical amnesia of
    >new media theory to be quite suspect, and even
    >dangerous.

    Try deconstructing it socially or historically rather than technologically and it makes a lot more sense.

    >One of the reasons I chose to make a/k/a
    >Mrs. George Gilbert, a video art piece about the
    >Angela Davis case, was because I wanted to reexamine
    >crucial histories that are now being forgotten within
    >the contemporary conversations on globalization. The
    >alienation caused by multinational corporate
    >domination (otherwise known as Empire) that many
    >middle-class young adults in the Global North feel is
    >just the last chapter in a long history of reactions
    >against imperial projects.
    >Mapping mistakes

    Ah. A *video piece*. Not "New Media", video. Much better. Analogue or digital video? Analogue? Much better.

    >Another issue of concern is the new media culture's
    >fascination with mapping-a fascination that it shares
    >with the military strategists. The news of the Iraq
    >war frequently involves men in uniform pointing to or
    >better yet walking across maps of various Middle
    >Eastern countries-so when I then walk into galleries
    >and cultural conferences in Europe and find more men
    >(without uniforms) playing with maps, I start to
    >wonder about the politics of those representations.

    Video is also used in war, and still video cameras recently recorded torture. Clearly we should think of Abu Ghiraib when we see the author's work.

    >In the American media, maps dominate representations
    >of warfare. While realistic depictions of the violence
    >of war via photographs and film have been banned from
    >American television news, maps are acceptable to those
    >in power because they dehumanize the targets.
    >Similarly, in the context of the art world, maps have
    >come to abstract and thereby silence individual and
    >group testimony.

    This is fetishism, this is poetics. This is the author mapping their head.

    >New media culture uses maps to read the world in terms
    >of extremes. Contemporary cultural theory is rife with
    >renderings that celebrate macro views and micro views
    >of the workings of the world, both social and
    >biological-which is to say, maps of vast spaces and
    >physical phenomena and maps of the most minuscule
    >thing. We hear over and over again about global
    >systems and panoptic vision on the one hand and genome
    >chains and nano-entities on the other. When I first
    >noticed this phenomenon I was struck by how it
    >complements the resurgence of formalist art
    >criticism's love affair with the grid. By this I am
    >referring to the return in the '90s to the definition
    >of art as a search for "perfect forms," and a
    >celebration of the formal characteristics of objects
    >and surfaces. What I have become more concerned about
    >as time goes on, however, is how this fetishizing of
    >spatial extremes enables the resurgence of Descartes'
    >idea that humans are rational, autonomous individuals
    >and that the human mind and mathematical principles
    >are the source for all real knowledge.

    This is a chronic failure to consider the social context of the work. Why these interests? Why now?

    >However objective they may appear, maps do have a
    >point of view, and that is one of privileged
    >super-human sight, of safe distance and of
    >omniscience.

    Rosalind, is that you?

    >The mapmaker charts an entire field of
    >vision, an entire world, and in doing so he (yes he)
    >plays God. Whether you are beholding the map as a
    >viewer or charting it as the cartographer, you rule
    >the world before you, you control it, and, in putting
    >everything in its place, you substitute a global whole
    >established through pictorial arrangement for an
    >actual dynamic engagement with individual elements and
    >entities. The psychological motive behind assuming
    >that position of power is not questioned, nor is the
    >predominance of white male techno-elites in that
    >discourse seen as anything more than incidental.

    Whingeing incoherently won't change the author's local situation. It's more balanced elsewhere at grass roots level.

    >It is as if more than four decades of postmodern
    >critique of the Cartesian subject had suddenly
    >evaporated.

    We can but hope.

    >Those critical discourses that unmasked
    >the way universals suppress difference, which gave
    >voice to the personal experience of women, the poor
    >and disenfranchised minorities, are treated as
    >inherently flawed by both the progressive and
    >conservative discourses of globalism.

    They also work against any shared struggle. Funny that.

    >Progressive
    >media advocates dismiss these discourses of difference
    >as "essentialist" while Republicans decry them as "the
    >tyranny of special interests." But both provide
    >ideological justification for the dismantling of
    >legislation protecting civil rights.

    Civil rights woiuld be easier to protect if we all acted together, rather than reducing society to dozens of conflicting and romanticized special interest groups as the author does.

    >Viewing the world as a map eliminates time, focuses
    >disproportionately on space and dehumanizes life. In
    >the name of a politics of global connectedness,
    >artists and activists too often substitute an abstract
    >"connectedness" for any real engagement with people in
    >other places or even in their own locale.

    Hang on.

    All the successful examples of media intervention given earlier were political acts. It is frankly insulting to refer to them as art.

    Yet from "New Media Theory", to direct political action, we now turn to the practice of art...

    >What gets lost in this focus on mapping is the view of
    >the world from the ground: lived experience. What is
    >ignored is the pervasiveness of the well-orchestrated
    >and highly selective visual culture that the majority
    >of Americans consume during most of their waking
    >hours. Most people are not looking through microscopes
    >and telescopes and digital mapping systems to find
    >truth about the world. They are watching reality TV,
    >sitcoms, the Super Bowl, MTV and Fox News, all of
    >which also offer maps of a completely different kind:
    >conspiracy theories that pit innocent Americans
    >against the Axis of Evil, embedded journalists'
    >hallucinatory misreadings of foreign conflicts,
    >allegories of empowerment through consumption and
    >endlessly recycled, biblically inspired narratives of
    >sin and redemption.

    Most people looking at church art didn't work in heaven. Most people looking at modernist grids didn't live in art galleries. And most would-be critics who compare the aesthetic concerns of art with patronising fantasies of base proletarian interests don't live anywhere near their adopted flock.

    >Going off-grid
    >
    >Finally we should consider what is being left off the
    >maps and why? What has happened, for example, to
    >institutional self-critique in the art world?

    It has been very successful commercially and textually but new fads have come along.

    >Why has
    >such examination become taboo in exhibitions or
    >unpopular with artists who gravitate to political
    >subjects?

    Because it has no transformative critical power. Because it is complicit with the financial and critical interests that demand it. Because it reflacts the managerial ego rather than questioning it.

    Because it is a set question with set answers that changes nothing.

    It is critical form, not critical content. Appearance, not action.

    >Why in the midst of myriad investigations of
    >corporate control of politics and culture is there
    >little or no attention paid to corporate control of
    >the museums and of corporate influence in art
    >collecting?

    Because it was established long ago and everyone knows it. So what do we do next?

    This is the problem. You can study something until the end of time, but above quantum level obsevation doesn't change things.

    You need to do something. Actually do something. Not write; do.

    >Why is it acceptable to the art world for
    >an artist to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
    >but not to address the pressure put on the organizers
    >of global art exhibitions to showcase a
    >disproportionate number of Israeli artists?

    Good question. I think some sort of action would be better here as well.

    >Why is it
    >fine for black artists to celebrate the construction
    >of black style but not to make visible the virtual
    >absence of black people as arbiters in the power
    >structures of the art institutions, galleries,
    >magazines and auction houses where black art is given
    >economic and aesthetic value?

    " " "

    >We live in a very dangerous time in which the right to
    >express dissent and to raise questions about the
    >workings of power is seriously imperiled by
    >fundamentalisms of many kinds.

    http://www.lessig.org/blog

    is currently talking about previous reductions in rights. You ain't seen nothing yet compared to World War One.

    >Now more than ever we
    >need to keep the lessons of history foremost in our
    >minds and to defend the critical discourses and
    >practices that enable differing experiences and
    >perspectives to be heard and understood.
    >
    >There are just too many important parallels to be
    >drawn between COINTELPRO and the excesses of law
    >enforcement brought about by the Patriot Act to be
    >dismissive of history. Socially conscious artists and
    >activists, rather than embracing tactics that rely on
    >dreams of omniscience, would do well to examine the
    >history of globalism, networks, dissent and collective
    >actions in order to understand that they are rooted in
    >the geopolitical and cultural margins.

    This essay is confused, poorly argued, and unreflectively polemical. The author is clearly angry about something, although quite what I couldn't say.

    The techno-utopianism of Wired, currently best represented by the "emergence" craze, is indeed bogus.

    But demanding that artists reveal Watergates or that we ignore all the women who produce and organise technologically-based art so we can cling to a comforting fantasy of repressions is counter-productive. Worse, demanding an illustratively political art is the kind of failure to differentiate between form and content (and art and life) that means I still think Flash Formalism says more politically than net.art .

    Wan hem fullap mekem nois, saenem natin.

    - Rob.
  • Jason Van Anden | Fri Dec 17th 2004 8:18 a.m.
    Perhaps the communication breakdown here stems from the term "new" attached to "media" and "art".

    New is the new contemporary is the new modern...

    We ought to be more careful about what we attach the word "new" to. Often, "new" asserts that a revolution has taken place - that the rules have completely changed in such a way that what occurred before no longer matters. This is the main concern that I responded to, regardless of the hard evidence presented.

    I would like to propose that we use the word "unfamilar" instead to refer to artistic expressions that implement recently available technologies. "Unfamiliar" is a lot more humble, and takes into account that its existence is simply different from what came before.

    I actually have the same problem with the word "media" - which seems redundant attached to "art", but I have to get to work on my next unfamilar work of art.

    Jason Van Anden
    Unfamiliar Artist
    www.smileproject.com
  • joy garnett | Fri Dec 17th 2004 8:35 a.m.
    I think I have to agree with Pall -- and with "MrTeacup" who left an
    insightful crit. in the comments:

    >quote<
    What is this heretofore unknown non-networked past? The very first
    paragraph of this essay betrays ignorance of what network means. Network
    theory and in fact, the majority of computer science has very little to do
    with computers or computer networks. Its true that the Internet is an
    implementation of these ideas, but it is notable not because it is the
    first, but because it is extremely fast. As for denial of history,
    communications networks predate human civilization.

    The idea that network theorists style themselves as Gibson-esque fantasy
    characters is laughable considering the rather boring, somber reality of
    mathematicians in academia who do the heavy lifting and that media
    depictions of actual hacking dumbed-down for the masses are the object of
    scorn for real hackers.

    Ms. Fusco identifies various activities that have occured in the political
    sphere as evidence of the historical nature of networks. As it is readily
    acknowledged that social networks are a feature of society itself, this is
    completely unnecessary. Advances in computing technology have enabled
    social networks to proliferate across previously established boundaries,
    and although this is generally the case with all advances from the
    development of language until now, they all profoundly influence social
    change, often providing a catalyst.

    However, there are some things that are unique about our current era. Our
    understanding of the mathematical principles of networks enables us to be
    somewhat more prescient about the proliferation of social change. For the
    first time in history, the theoretical underpinnings of a medium are at
    least partially understood before its broad implementation. Scientists
    have been successfully applying this understanding to networking problems
    that model social problems. While not explicitly network-related, the
    mathematical principles of Game Theory have been successfully applied to
    economic problems for decades.

    As I see it, there are three unique circumstances surrounding digital
    networks:
    1. Advanced knowledge of mathematical networking principles.
    2. Rapid and accurate measurement of the network.
    3. Widespread deployment of knowledge in the network about the network. In
    other words, meta-knowledge about the operation of the network that
    accelerates optimal use.
    Posted by MrTeacup on December 16, 2004 at 8:45 PM
    >endquote<

    On Fri, 17 Dec 2004, Pall Thayer wrote:

    > I agree, everyone here should read this article. But I wouldn't say it's
    > insightfull. It's both arrogant and ignorant. I don't think anyone thinks
    > that social networks came into existence via the internet. Hackers are not
    > what she seems to think they are. You don't have to have any special
    > knowledge to be part of an internet-based social network beyond knowing how
    > to use a browser. She criticizes entire movements within the digital arts
    > without mentioning a single piece. How can we take her seriously? Reminding
    > us of some historical facts and issues is fine but to do it in a way that is
    > demeaning to the work that's being done today is wrong. I think she should've
    > done some more research before writing this.
    >
    > Jason Van Anden wrote:
    >> Wow. Thank you Coco (c/o Dominique).
    >>
    >> I think that everyone in this forum ought to read this article. It is
    >> incredibly insightful and very well stated (I wish I could write like
    >> her). This kind of introspection is required no matter what the
    >> discourse. The title brings the article perfectly into focus.
    >>
    >> History is given the license to repeat itself because of "revolutions"
    >> that blindly seek to one-up the knowledge that preceeded it. Whether this
    >> is motivated by arrogance or ignorance... I suppose does not really
    >> matter.
    >>
    >> Oil paint was "new-media" at some point.
    >> Careful: what's old is new.
    >>
    >> Jason Van Anden
    >> www.smileproject.com
    >>
    >>
    >>
    >>
    >> +
    >> -> post: list@rhizome.org
    >> -> questions: info@rhizome.org
    >> -> subscribe/unsubscribe: http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
    >> -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
    >> -> visit: on Fridays the Rhizome.org web site is open to non-members
    >> +
    >> Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
    >> Membership Agreement available online at http://rhizome.org/info/29.php
    >>
    >
    > --
    > _______________________________
    > Pall Thayer
    > artist/teacher
    > http://www.this.is/pallit
    > http://pallit.lhi.is/panse
    >
    > Lorna
    > http://www.this.is/lorna
    > _______________________________
    > +
    > -> post: list@rhizome.org
    > -> questions: info@rhizome.org
    > -> subscribe/unsubscribe: http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
    > -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
    > -> visit: on Fridays the Rhizome.org web site is open to non-members
    > +
    > Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
    > Membership Agreement available online at http://rhizome.org/info/29.php
    >
    >
  • joy garnett | Fri Dec 17th 2004 8:43 a.m.
    rob myers wrote:

    > This essay is confused, poorly argued, and unreflectively polemical. The
    > author is clearly angry about something, although quite what I couldn't
    > say.

    uh-huh.

    If I was going to get my hackles up I would say this author is trying to
    insert her own schtick into something she doesn't quite understand and feels
    somehow excluded by. (the schtick, it seems, is somewhere between
    unreconstituted stalinist feminism, early 90s multi-culti politically
    correct-speak, and something like a bee in a bonnet).

    but... oh yawn.
  • Pall Thayer | Fri Dec 17th 2004 8:48 a.m.
    Actually, in the context of art there really isn't much new to what's
    going on and I agree, media along with art is redundant. So it's all
    just "art" and we are just "artists". Also, not many people in todays
    world are "unfamiliar" with computers and the internet.

    Pall

    Jason Van Anden wrote:
    > Perhaps the communication breakdown here stems from the term "new" attached to "media" and "art".
    >
    > New is the new contemporary is the new modern...
    >
    > We ought to be more careful about what we attach the word "new" to. Often, "new" asserts that a revolution has taken place - that the rules have completely changed in such a way that what occurred before no longer matters. This is the main concern that I responded to, regardless of the hard evidence presented.
    >
    > I would like to propose that we use the word "unfamilar" instead to refer to artistic expressions that implement recently available technologies. "Unfamiliar" is a lot more humble, and takes into account that its existence is simply different from what came before.
    >
    > I actually have the same problem with the word "media" - which seems redundant attached to "art", but I have to get to work on my next unfamilar work of art.
    >
    > Jason Van Anden
    > Unfamiliar Artist
    > www.smileproject.com
    > +
    > -> post: list@rhizome.org
    > -> questions: info@rhizome.org
    > -> subscribe/unsubscribe: http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
    > -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
    > -> visit: on Fridays the Rhizome.org web site is open to non-members
    > +
    > Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
    > Membership Agreement available online at http://rhizome.org/info/29.php
    >

    --
    _______________________________
    Pall Thayer
    artist/teacher
    http://www.this.is/pallit
    http://pallit.lhi.is/panse

    Lorna
    http://www.this.is/lorna
    _______________________________
  • ryan griffis | Fri Dec 17th 2004 9:01 a.m.
    Pall's comments are right on here (and most of Rob's). But if anyone
    has read any of the recent writings by Coco on Nettime or anywhere
    else, this polemic shouldn't be a surprise. Unfortunately, she has a
    lot of valid criticism on all kinds of concerns that get lost in the
    unreflexive ranting. This kind of arch O'Reillyism dilutes any
    substantial points that could, and need to be, made. The discussion
    between Coco and Ricardo Dominguez is a much more lucid critique of NM:
    http://www.metamute.com/look/article.tpl?
    IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=1&NrIssue#&NrSection&NrArticle$1&searc
    h=search&SearchKeywords=fusco&SearchLevel=0
    (URL will probably be broken)
  • Jason Van Anden | Fri Dec 17th 2004 9:16 a.m.
    Pall,

    "Unfamiliar" is to "New" as "Contemporary" is to "Modern".
    "Contemporary Art" does not suggest we are unfamiliar with paint.

    > Actually, in the context of art there really isn't much new to what's
    > going on and I agree, media along with art is redundant. So it's all
    > just "art" and we are just "artists". Also, not many people in todays
    > world are "unfamiliar" with computers and the internet.
    >
    > Pall

    Joy,

    I noticed that you used last names instead of first names. Is this the correct protocol? I wasn't sure - using first names did not feel right though.

    Jason Van Anden
    www.smileproject.com
  • Pall Thayer | Fri Dec 17th 2004 10:07 a.m.
    why don't we just call it "Slightly unfamiliar new contemporary (post)
    modern media art stuff". So that would make me a "Slightly unfamiliar
    new contemporary (post) modern media art guy".

    Jason Van Anden wrote:
    > Pall,
    >
    > "Unfamiliar" is to "New" as "Contemporary" is to "Modern".
    > "Contemporary Art" does not suggest we are unfamiliar with paint.
    >
    >
    >>Actually, in the context of art there really isn't much new to what's
    >>going on and I agree, media along with art is redundant. So it's all
    >>just "art" and we are just "artists". Also, not many people in todays
    >>world are "unfamiliar" with computers and the internet.
    >>
    >>Pall
    >
    >
    >
    > Joy,
    >
    > I noticed that you used last names instead of first names. Is this the correct protocol? I wasn't sure - using first names did not feel right though.
    >
    > Jason Van Anden
    > www.smileproject.com
    >
    > +
    > -> post: list@rhizome.org
    > -> questions: info@rhizome.org
    > -> subscribe/unsubscribe: http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
    > -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
    > -> visit: on Fridays the Rhizome.org web site is open to non-members
    > +
    > Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
    > Membership Agreement available online at http://rhizome.org/info/29.php
    >

    --
    _______________________________
    Pall Thayer
    artist/teacher
    http://www.this.is/pallit
    http://pallit.lhi.is/panse

    Lorna
    http://www.this.is/lorna
    _______________________________
  • curt cloninger | Fri Dec 17th 2004 10:39 a.m.
    I'm just here for the rhetorical prose. Some personal favorites so far --

    +++++

    rob:
    Actual hacking... is the *creation* of something, the solving of a problem, a shamanic exercise of personal creative skill to answer a need, *not* just breaking something down.

    +++++

    coco:
    >It is as if more than four decades of postmodern
    >critique of the Cartesian subject had suddenly
    >evaporated.

    rob:
    We can but hope.

    +++++

    joy:
    If I was going to get my hackles up I would say this author is trying to
    insert her own schtick into something she doesn't quite understand and feels
    somehow excluded by. (the schtick, it seems, is somewhere between
    unreconstituted stalinist feminism, early 90s multi-culti politically
    correct-speak, and something like a bee in a bonnet).

    but... oh yawn.

    +++++
  • Pall Thayer | Fri Dec 17th 2004 11:05 a.m.
    This one made me laugh:

    rob:
    Ah. A *video piece*. Not "New Media", video. Much better. Analogue or
    digital video? Analogue? Much better.

    curt cloninger wrote:
    > I'm just here for the rhetorical prose. Some personal favorites so far --
    >
    > +++++
    >
    > rob:
    > Actual hacking... is the *creation* of something, the solving of a problem, a shamanic exercise of personal creative skill to answer a need, *not* just breaking something down.
    >
    > +++++
    >
    > coco:
    >
    >>It is as if more than four decades of postmodern
    >>critique of the Cartesian subject had suddenly
    >>evaporated.
    >
    >
    > rob:
    > We can but hope.
    >
    > +++++
    >
    > joy:
    > If I was going to get my hackles up I would say this author is trying to
    > insert her own schtick into something she doesn't quite understand and feels
    > somehow excluded by. (the schtick, it seems, is somewhere between
    > unreconstituted stalinist feminism, early 90s multi-culti politically
    > correct-speak, and something like a bee in a bonnet).
    >
    > but... oh yawn.
    >
    > +++++
    > +
    > -> post: list@rhizome.org
    > -> questions: info@rhizome.org
    > -> subscribe/unsubscribe: http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
    > -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
    > -> visit: on Fridays the Rhizome.org web site is open to non-members
    > +
    > Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
    > Membership Agreement available online at http://rhizome.org/info/29.php
    >

    --
    _______________________________
    Pall Thayer
    artist/teacher
    http://www.this.is/pallit
    http://pallit.lhi.is/panse

    Lorna
    http://www.this.is/lorna
    _______________________________
  • Jason Van Anden | Fri Dec 17th 2004 11:20 a.m.
    Works for me.

    J

    Pall Thayer wrote:

    > why don't we just call it "Slightly unfamiliar new contemporary
    > (post)
    > modern media art stuff". So that would make me a "Slightly unfamiliar
    > new contemporary (post) modern media art guy".
  • curt cloninger | Fri Dec 17th 2004 12:05 p.m.
    Hi Ryan,

    I'd like to respond to this excerpt from the metamute "interview" (more like a collaborative essay) that you link:

    ++++++++

    Ricardo Domingo: A great deal has changed in the net.art world since 1997. Many museums are now deeply involved in framing net.art for public consumption. You can certainly see a difference rt that was presented at the Whitney Biennial in 2000, which presented work by rtmark.com and fakeshop.com that was both political and performative. In 2002, the focus is on techno-formalist net.artists who are working very hard to become an objet d’art - and gain a foothold in the market. It is important for those artists working within a critical performative matrix not to be sidetracked by the latest techno-formalist fetish of museums or the gallery system. In the post 9/11 climate, it is more important than ever to push for aesthetic ‘voices’ that can bear witness to other worlds beyond the ideology of the War on Terrorism.

    It is not clear whether institutions will take on the task of presenting political net.art beyond simple documentation. This may start to happen if network\_art\_activism begins to establish stronger ties with the previous generations of artists who have faced the dismantling of the political in art - both in the North and the South - so that this very immature form which is net.art can gain a sense of history about institutional critique, in order to develop both a deeper aesthetic and historical knowledge about what other artists have done before history was erased by the digital hype. I really don’t see the possibility of cultural support for political net.art works like EDT’s Zapatista FloodNet any time soon. But for projects like ‘Anchors for Witnessing’ - yes, there is interest and support. For political art projects that are about distribution - yes, but for projects that ‘disturb’ - no.

    Coco Fusco: So as things now stand institutions want to fund projects that narrow the digital divide, but not ones that subvert the formalist tendencies of net.art from within.

    Ricardo Domingo: Yes, projects that follow the market drive to plug everyone in, I think, will continue to gain more institutional presence and support. Those works which don’t fold into the other end of the market drive for formalist containment, or the pure presentation of code qua code, machines qua machines, like network\_art\_activism, will be left in the archives, and will never be supported as a live performance.

    ++++++++++

    Like Rob, I smell a straw-man. There is this false dichotomy implied within net.art of "hacktivism" vs. "techno-formalism," techno-formalism being some vague derogatory term used to stand for any form of non-political net art. EDT thinks they're radical because they are alter-neo-liberal/zapatista, as if there are only two kind of relevant human activities -- zapatista style political activities and neo-libaral anti-globalism political activities. Relegated to the artistically and culturally irrelevant are the activities of beauty-making, particularly if such activities result in something resembling an object. The condescending materialist assumption is that any non-political art is part of the spectacle, reinforcing a system the opposition of which is implicitly assumed to be the noble goal of all compassionate sentient individuals.

    Well what a bunch of crap. Against such assumptions I posit all the projects here:
    http://deepyoung.org/sister/
    but particularly http://mjt.org

    The Museum of Jurassic Technology is an across-the-board paradigm hijack. Talk about changing the world one inidividual at a time, not just by reconfiguring their understanding of political activity, but by reconfiguring their understanding of understanding. The MJT to me is as culturally relevant, as ethically laudable, and as spectacle-disrupting as they come. It's so successfully "tactical" it doesn't even read as tactical, political, activist, or even art.

    Domingo laments the art world's lack of interest in "hacktivism" and its increased interest in "techno-formalism." For one thing, I don't think the art world as a whole has ever been terribly interested in any form of net.art (hacktivism, tecnho-formalism, or otherwise); nor are either forms very salable (so his dis of "code qua code" net.art as intentionally catering to the object market is a lot of wind). For another thing, why does he care? It's like some punk rock band secretly pining to get on a major record label. Whereas the MJT is its own museum. It would never allow itself to be featured in a gallery or biennial, because such a contextualization would undermine the all-encompassing reality that gives the MJT its subversive cognitively leverage, not just in the art world, and not just in the political world, but in the world world -- the holistic world of human thought and action.

    Perhaps alter-neo-liberal hacktivist art is indeed more interesting/disturbing/effective/of-the-people than mere neo-liberal hacktivist art -- in the same way that a Toyota is faster than a Yugo. But the MJT is flying a Concord. There are more than two ways to skin a cat. There is often more "disturbance" to "techno-formalism" (read "pretty art that's not overtly performative or political") than meets the materialist-indoctrinated eye.

    peace,
    curt

    \_

    ryan griffis wrote:

    > Pall's comments are right on here (and most of Rob's). But if anyone
    > has read any of the recent writings by Coco on Nettime or anywhere
    > else, this polemic shouldn't be a surprise. Unfortunately, she has a
    > lot of valid criticism on all kinds of concerns that get lost in the
    > unreflexive ranting. This kind of arch O'Reillyism dilutes any
    > substantial points that could, and need to be, made. The discussion
    > between Coco and Ricardo Dominguez is a much more lucid critique of
    > NM:
    > http://www.metamute.com/look/article.tpl?
    > IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=1&NrIssue#&NrSection&NrArticle$1&searc
    > h=search&SearchKeywords=fusco&SearchLevel=0
    > (URL will probably be broken)
    >
  • curt cloninger | Fri Dec 17th 2004 12:45 p.m.
    I mean Dominguez.

    And Fusquez.
  • Rob Myers | Fri Dec 17th 2004 1:42 p.m.
    On 17 Dec 2004, at 19:05, curt cloninger wrote:

    > Like Rob, I smell a straw-man. There is this false dichotomy implied
    > within net.art of "hacktivism" vs. "techno-formalism,"
    > techno-formalism being some vague derogatory term used to stand for
    > any form of non-political net art. EDT thinks they're radical because
    > they are alter-neo-liberal/zapatista, as if there are only two kind of
    > relevant human activities -- zapatista style political activities and
    > neo-libaral anti-globalism political activities. Relegated to the
    > artistically and culturally irrelevant are the activities of
    > beauty-making, particularly if such activities result in something
    > resembling an object. The condescending materialist assumption is
    > that any non-political art is part of the spectacle, reinforcing a
    > system the opposition of which is implicitly assumed to be the noble
    > goal of all compassionate sentient individuals.

    A would-be materialism that sneers at the proles (and "New Media"
    practitioners are *workers* in the information economy, New Media Art
    is their folk art in an age of post-mechanical reproduction) is no
    materialism at all. It is academicism in the worst C19th sense of the
    word.

    Privileging the politically illustrative and confirmatory over the
    culturally expressive and challenging is a failure of imagination and
    politics.

    If anyone wants to see the kind of 70s leftist political "engagement"
    that is at issue here, watch Monty Python's "The Life Of Brian" and
    keep an eye out for The Judean People's Front. That inter-factional,
    nonsensical "struggle" against reality is not a productive use of
    people's time.

    See the sites criticised from http://marxist-org-uk.blogspot.com/ for
    the online equivalent of the JPF.

    > The Museum of Jurassic Technology is an across-the-board paradigm
    > hijack. Talk about changing the world one inidividual at a time, not
    > just by reconfiguring their understanding of political activity, but
    > by reconfiguring their understanding of understanding. The MJT to me
    > is as culturally relevant, as ethically laudable, and as
    > spectacle-disrupting as they come. It's so successfully "tactical" it
    > doesn't even read as tactical, political, activist, or even art.

    Absolutely (cool links by the way). Looking political isn't the same as
    being political, indeed it's usually the opposite.

    > Domingo laments the art world's lack of interest in "hacktivism" and
    > its increased interest in "techno-formalism." For one thing, I don't
    > think the art world as a whole has ever been terribly interested in
    > any form of net.art (hacktivism, tecnho-formalism, or otherwise); nor
    > are either forms very salable (so his dis of "code qua code" net.art
    > as intentionally catering to the object market is a lot of wind). For
    > another thing, why does he care? It's like some punk rock band
    > secretly pining to get on a major record label.

    Heh. I love the way that the current generation of injection-molded
    teenyboppers are described as "punk" on MTV (which, unlike many who
    criticise it, I actually watch. Far to much of...).

    I grew up in an age of Goth (second generation, late 80's). The
    countercultural and critical mainstream hated Goth because of its
    aestheticism. Goth was more political than punk because it successfully
    refused "cultural codes" and created a parallel culture unamenable to
    Thatcherism.

    Not anger, disdain.

    > Whereas the MJT is its own museum. It would never allow itself to be
    > featured in a gallery or biennial, because such a contextualization
    > would undermine the all-encompassing reality that gives the MJT its
    > subversive cognitively leverage, not just in the art world, and not
    > just in the political world, but in the world world -- the holistic
    > world of human thought and action.
    >
    > Perhaps alter-neo-liberal hacktivist art is indeed more
    > interesting/disturbing/effective/of-the-people than mere neo-liberal
    > hacktivist art -- in the same way that a Toyota is faster than a Yugo.
    > But the MJT is flying a Concord. There are more than two ways to
    > skin a cat. There is often more "disturbance" to "techno-formalism"
    > (read "pretty art that's not overtly performative or political") than
    > meets the materialist-indoctrinated eye.

    And it's "disturbance" is of the easily rehearsed uncritical
    "criticism" of those who would explain it to the proles in as much as
    anything else (which, as I say, isn't any materialism worthy of the
    name).

    - Rob.
  • curt cloninger | Fri Dec 17th 2004 2:54 p.m.
    Rob Myers wrote:

    > I grew up in an age of Goth (second generation, late 80's). The
    > countercultural and critical mainstream hated Goth because of its
    > aestheticism. Goth was more political than punk because it
    > successfully
    > refused "cultural codes" and created a parallel culture unamenable to
    > Thatcherism.
    >
    > Not anger, disdain.

    "withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy."
    - michael stipe quoting richard linklatter quoting brian eno
  • ryan griffis | Sat Dec 18th 2004 10:29 a.m.
    Thanks for the thoughtful response Curt.
    > ++++++++++
    >
    > Like Rob, I smell a straw-man. There is this false dichotomy implied
    > within net.art of "hacktivism" vs. "techno-formalism,"
    > techno-formalism being some vague derogatory term used to stand for
    > any form of non-political net art. EDT thinks they're radical because
    > they are alter-neo-liberal/zapatista, as if there are only two kind of
    > relevant human activities -- zapatista style political activities and
    > neo-libaral anti-globalism political activities. Relegated to the
    > artistically and culturally irrelevant are the activities of
    > beauty-making, particularly if such activities result in something
    > resembling an object. The condescending materialist assumption is
    > that any non-political art is part of the spectacle, reinforcing a
    > system the opposition of which is implicitly assumed to be the noble
    > goal of all compassionate sentient individuals.

    Sure, an uncritical attack on "techno-formalism" is, well, uncritical.
    i don't think "techno-formalism" can, or should be, equated with
    "beauty making" however. You (curt) have, for example, criticized the
    fetishization of certain tendencies in digital art - games, etc. while
    i don't care to speak for the writers of the essay, i take their attack
    on techno-formalism as an attack on the prioritization of wiz-bang
    technology that lends itself to consumer product promotion (i.e. the
    desire to wire the world with store bought CPUs). i don't think this
    criticism is an attack on aesthetics itself, but an attempt to look at
    how aesthetics is "used." i realize that we (curt and i) have widely
    divergent concerns in this arena, but i don't think it's that any art
    that doesn't look political is de facto just spectacle. art that uses
    open source tech is practicing politics differently than work dependent
    on licensed software/hardware. form carries as much weight as subject
    matter. and, if you believe, as i do, that all work is already
    political, it's about the politics practiced, not whether it is
    political at all that is up for criticism.
    >
    > The Museum of Jurassic Technology is an across-the-board paradigm
    > hijack. Talk about changing the world one inidividual at a time, not
    > just by reconfiguring their understanding of political activity, but
    > by reconfiguring their understanding of understanding. The MJT to me
    > is as culturally relevant, as ethically laudable, and as
    > spectacle-disrupting as they come. It's so successfully "tactical" it
    > doesn't even read as tactical, political, activist, or even art.

    the MJT is a rad project, and many self-avowed "political artists"
    totally embrace it for many of the same reasons you mention. i would
    say that anyone who has ever visited it would have to recognize just
    how "tactical" it is. "political work" can be complex and define things
    in the positive (as opposed to strictly negative critique)
    >
    > Domingo laments the art world's lack of interest in "hacktivism" and
    > its increased interest in "techno-formalism." For one thing, I don't
    > think the art world as a whole has ever been terribly interested in
    > any form of net.art (hacktivism, tecnho-formalism, or otherwise); nor
    > are either forms very salable (so his dis of "code qua code" net.art
    > as intentionally catering to the object market is a lot of wind). For
    > another thing, why does he care? It's like some punk rock band
    > secretly pining to get on a major record label.

    i totally agree with your criticism here. But this doesn't negate the
    need (as i might see it) to critique the support for certain
    manifestations of digital/networked art by institutions.
    >
    > Perhaps alter-neo-liberal hacktivist art is indeed more
    > interesting/disturbing/effective/of-the-people than mere neo-liberal
    > hacktivist art -- in the same way that a Toyota is faster than a Yugo.
    > But the MJT is flying a Concord. There are more than two ways to
    > skin a cat. There is often more "disturbance" to "techno-formalism"
    > (read "pretty art that's not overtly performative or political") than
    > meets the materialist-indoctrinated eye.

    maybe, but i think "materialism" provides some good tools for avoiding
    the tunnel vision you're pointing out. materialism demands dealing with
    context and relationships in a way that attempts to avoid speculation
    (though i'd concede that's next to impossible).
  • curt cloninger | Sat Dec 18th 2004 1:25 p.m.
    > Sure, an uncritical attack on "techno-formalism" is, well,
    > uncritical.
    > i don't think "techno-formalism" can, or should be, equated with
    > "beauty making" however. You (curt) have, for example, criticized the
    > fetishization of certain tendencies in digital art - games, etc.
    > while
    > i don't care to speak for the writers of the essay, i take their
    > attack
    > on techno-formalism as an attack on the prioritization of wiz-bang
    > technology that lends itself to consumer product promotion (i.e. the
    > desire to wire the world with store bought CPUs). i don't think this
    > criticism is an attack on aesthetics itself, but an attempt to look
    > at
    > how aesthetics is "used."

    It's hard to tell what they mean by "techno-formalism" because the phrase is used so pejoratively and vaguely. But I'm guessing they are dissing a contingent of the bitforms crowd ( http://bitforms.com/artists.html ) because Dominguez's position includes a critique of artists attempting to make code into salable object. So that would pit them against Casey Reas, Golan Levin, Martin Wattenberg, Mark Napier, and a bunch of people who are using the net in much more culturally-relevant and inventive ways than a denial of service attack on the Mexican government.

    I think it's a case of folks getting into the nuances of what they are into, and lumping everything else. Code artists are going to get into the distinction between reactive and generative. Political artists will get into the distinction between anarcho-post-marxist communes and neo-liberal event-based sit-ins. Whatever. It's the moral high-ground and the condescenscion I take issue with. If they really give a rip, let 'em move to Chiapas instead of concerning themselves with white-box curatorial critique.

    I agree with Coco's position (stated in the map article) that art needs to about humans rather than technology. But her critique of new media mapping is overly convenient and facile. To abstract data and display it on a macro or micro level is hardly equivalent to the using a map on CNN or in a pentagon war room. She sees the visual surface of the media and makes a seemingly profound insight (no photographs of people = no interest in idividuals). But she's missing the poetic implications of the procedural nuances of new media mapping. There is a big difference between a real-time generated data map or an interactive/scalable data map vs. a time-shifted video power point map on a newscast. A real-time generated map is all about time. An interactive map is all about giving the power to the people (cf: http://theyrule.org ). In addition, new media mapping allows cross-media transformations that are ripe with political critical implications and tactical potential. But there's this built-in bias against the aesthetic of the object. If the new media map has the appearance of graphic design or something built on a grid-based system, then immediately they all cry foul and trot out the scarlet "M" (modernism) and the scarlet "F" (formalism). But it's a shallow/surface, old-media-based critique, rooted in a kind of "media studies" when "media" meant "television news." It ingnores the importance of how these artworks function and focuses on what they look like.

    As far as their critique of galleries (in the metamute article), it's less a case of curatorial bias against tactical media, and simply a case of inherent media differences. For instance, how far can we really push the network to a state of hypertrophy until it becomes malleable enough for us to make it what we want? To a point, and then simple restrictions of bandwidth and technology (not to mention man-made extra-technical rules and laws) come into play. Perhaps this is too overtly McLuhanesque, but I find that media come with built-in, inherent limitations. These media limitations may have political implications (what doesn't?), but fiber-optic cable in and of itself doesn't have a sinister agenda. A white-box gallery has limits. So why try to fit everything in a gallery? Why even bemoan the fact that it won't fit? A city-wide protest march won't fit in a gallery (except as an archived, media-translated event). And why should it? Why perform theatre in a gallery? Why show a film in a gallery? (There may be legitimate reasons for both.) More to the point, why have a computer in a gallery set up with denial of service attack software connected to a corrput government? If the tactic is to shut down the government's server, then why wait for some gallery patron to walk by, read the artist statement, and decide whether or not to click "send?" That's pretentious and stupid. The click need not come from an elite gallery patron to have its effect. The click just needs to come from a bunch of different online machines (connectivity and ownership are "preferenced." for shame!), and once the software starts running, it's all automated. To try to present such a "hacktivist" event in a gallery setting may even be exploitive. It's using the cause of "disenfranchised" people as conceptual currency for the artist.

    > art that uses
    > open source tech is practicing politics differently than work
    > dependent
    > on licensed software/hardware.

    This is such a bogey I'm amazed it continues to get the mindshare it does. After I showed some of my work at FILE this year I was asked if it was "open source." It's HTML and JavaScript and gifs and jpegs. I used BBEdit to write the code, I used a Fuji camera to take some of the pictures, I used Google to find some of the pictures, I used Adobe Photoshop and ImageReady to prepare the pictures, I used a Macintosh OS to support the software, I used a WebStar modem to upload it all via a Charter Cable ISP, and I hosted it on a Unix box leased by Media Temple. Uh yeah, I guess it's "open source." You want open source art? http://www.sculpture.org.uk/image/504816331403

    > form carries as much weight as subject
    > matter. and, if you believe, as i do, that all work is already
    > political, it's about the politics practiced, not whether it is
    > political at all that is up for criticism.

    By the same argument, all art is religious. All art is about the senses, all art is conceptual, all art is about marital relationships, all art is about migratory bird patterns. The question is, need all art always be viewed and preferenced and criticized and evaluated through a political grid? It's the very thing that is so annoying about legalistic Christians. Every artwork is initially, primarily, and inordinately evaluated on whether it's "orthodox," regardless of what context the art itself might be trying to establish. It's the exact same thing that's so annoying about Marxists, Materialists, Feminists, Anti-Globalization Activists, etc. Really, who gives a shit whether http://turux.org was made using open-source Java or proprietary Macromedia Director? Care if you like, but it's almost totally tangential to the purpose of that artwork. You're imposing you're critical agenda on the artwork. Barthes and Derrida say this is OK/inevitable/happening anyway, but they've yet to convince me that such carte blanche agenda-imposition makes for pertinent, insightful art criticism.
  • ryan griffis | Mon Dec 20th 2004 9:08 p.m.
    > It's hard to tell what they mean by "techno-formalism" because the
    > phrase is used so pejoratively and vaguely. But I'm guessing they are
    > dissing a contingent of the bitforms crowd (
    > http://bitforms.com/artists.html )

    i'm not sure they're targeting particular artists (though this
    probably just reflects my interest in what they have to say). if
    there's any thing pointed at, i would say it's more systemic in nature.
    i don't think there's much value in an attack on the artists' works you
    mention, but there is (for me) in critiquing the valuation by
    institutions on certain forms of work, and how that work is framed and
    utilized by such institutions. i'm assuming you disagree pretty much.
    again, i don't really have any investment in defending that interview's
    content, i just think some of it's "charges" are more defined that
    Coco's mapping essay.
    >
    > I think it's a case of folks getting into the nuances of what they are
    > into, and lumping everything else. Code artists are going to get into
    > the distinction between reactive and generative. Political artists
    > will get into the distinction between anarcho-post-marxist communes
    > and neo-liberal event-based sit-ins. Whatever. It's the moral
    > high-ground and the condescenscion I take issue with. If they really
    > give a rip, let 'em move to Chiapas instead of concerning themselves
    > with white-box curatorial critique.

    talk about your vague and pejorative criticisms. this sounds an awful
    lot like "if you really hate this country so much, then why don't you
    leave it." are you honestly suggesting that people can't care and make
    statements about things outside of their neighborhood? And to say that
    artists - whatever their concern - shouldn't feel free to criticize the
    arena they happen to be a part of, if they don't think it addresses
    things they find important...
    >
    > I agree with Coco's position (stated in the map article) that art
    > needs to about humans rather than technology. But her critique of new
    > media mapping is overly convenient and facile.

    no argument here. i haven't talked to one person that has read/heard
    her speak about this that hasn't said the exact same thing, including
    me. and btw: most of the people i know involved in "political" mapping
    projects utilize very "designy" visuals, very effectively (IMHO). but i
    have read critiques from the establishment art world about the
    threatening take over of art by design. not something i'm too worried
    about.
    >
    > If the tactic is to shut down the government's server, then why wait
    > for some gallery patron to walk by, read the artist statement, and
    > decide whether or not to click "send?" That's pretentious and stupid.

    many people say the same thing about most "web art," not to mention
    "conceptual art" that seems to be only concerned with moving colors and
    sampled sounds. but i guess "pretentious and stupid" is a valid
    criticism...

    > The click need not come from an elite gallery patron to have its
    > effect. The click just needs to come from a bunch of different online
    > machines (connectivity and ownership are "preferenced." for shame!),
    > and once the software starts running, it's all automated. To try to
    > present such a "hacktivist" event in a gallery setting may even be
    > exploitive. It's using the cause of "disenfranchised" people as
    > conceptual currency for the artist.

    the exploitive argument has been used against people working with
    representation of the "other" forever. that doesn't mean it's not a
    needed argument, but it doesn't mean much without specificity to me.
    How does one decide when the benefit of the artist isn't matched by the
    benefit of a generated discourse for the represented. As for the
    utilitarian argument, most artists practicing the work in question
    position it in a symbolic realm, as a form of cultural statement, not
    legislative or militaristic.
    >>
    >
    > This is such a bogey I'm amazed it continues to get the mindshare it
    > does.

    OK - maybe i didn't make my point clearly. i agree with your general
    sentiment, but i said that work reliant on "open source" tech practiced
    politics DIFFERENTLY - not necessarily better. and i also meant the
    generation of "open sourced" work - public domain and all that. i
    merely meant to suggest that a political position could be taken by the
    choice of tools used as well as the overt content created. i guess this
    is another way of saying that materials and processes matter
    politically. personally, i'm interested in the politics of tools, but
    am so far invested in commercial technology.
    >
    > By the same argument, all art is religious. All art is about the
    > senses, all art is conceptual, all art is about marital relationships,
    > all art is about migratory bird patterns. The question is, need all
    > art always be viewed and preferenced and criticized and evaluated
    > through a political grid? It's the very thing that is so annoying
    > about legalistic Christians. Every artwork is initially, primarily,
    > and inordinately evaluated on whether it's "orthodox," regardless of
    > what context the art itself might be trying to establish. It's the
    > exact same thing that's so annoying about Marxists, Materialists,
    > Feminists, Anti-Globalization Activists, etc. Really, who gives a
    > shit whether http://turux.org was made using open-source Java or
    > proprietary Macromedia Director? Care if you like, but it's almost
    > totally tangential to the purpose of that artwork. You're imposing
    > you're critical agenda on the artwork. Barthes and Derrida say this
    > is OK/inevitable/happening anyway, but th!
    > ey've yet to convince me that such carte blanche agenda-imposition
    > makes for pertinent, insightful art criticism.

    this reads like so much too-cool-for-school criticism. you can take
    whatever interests you disagree with, slap a label on it - particularly
    one that's loaded with the disdain that we seem to have for anything
    "academic" - and dismiss it as insignificant to art, or culture period.
    sure there is dogma in just about any ideological position, and some
    don't get beyond what you have to memorize to be part of the "group."
    but you seem to be attacking these things (marxism, feminism, etc ) as
    ideological, as if you're own relationship to art (and whatever else)
    is somehow outside of ideology! how do you not impose your "critical
    agenda" on work when you look at/criticize/evaluate a work? and finding
    tangential relationships in work is, honestly, what makes art
    interesting for me.
    obviously, we continue to disagree. interestingly, we have similar
    tastes in visual aesthetics (and some in music).
    best,
    ryan
  • curt cloninger | Thu Dec 23rd 2004 11:21 p.m.
    One of the things I find interesting and useful (although potentially cyclical and self-defeating) from deconstruction is the idea of shifting one's presuppositional critical stance as one proceeds to dialogue with a text. The danger of this approach is that the critic can be very disingenuous and snotty, tear everything down, and bury her attack position(s) under her own shifting critical smokescreen. Such an approach is easy enough and kind of punk, and was useful in its day, but rarely builds or solve or contributes anything. But what if the critic isn't trying to be disingenous? What if she really cares to respond to the text/artwork in a way that most sympathetically (according to her necessarily biased notions of "sympathy") responds to the work itself? She wouldn't always have to write from the same indoctrinated, often irrelevant perspective; she could adapt her critical perspective based on what the work itself was trying to accomplish.

    It's not such a difficult or impossible approach. I can hate rap music but write a salient critique of the new Snoop Dog CD based on my understanding of the genre and its goals. And if I critique enough stuff more or less fairly and honestly, and you begin to trust me as a critical voice, you can buy into what I'm saying and weigh it against where you're coming from based on where you know I'm coming from.

    But to come from a Socialist perspective as if it's the politically correct critical perspective from which everyone ought to be coming, that's just tired and uninteresting art criticism to me.

    _

    ryan griffis wrote:

    > this reads like so much too-cool-for-school criticism. you can take
    > whatever interests you disagree with, slap a label on it -
    > particularly
    > one that's loaded with the disdain that we seem to have for anything
    > "academic" - and dismiss it as insignificant to art, or culture
    > period.
    > sure there is dogma in just about any ideological position, and some
    > don't get beyond what you have to memorize to be part of the "group."
    > but you seem to be attacking these things (marxism, feminism, etc )
    > as
    > ideological, as if you're own relationship to art (and whatever else)
    > is somehow outside of ideology! how do you not impose your "critical
    > agenda" on work when you look at/criticize/evaluate a work? and
    > finding
    > tangential relationships in work is, honestly, what makes art
    > interesting for me.
  • Kanarinka | Sat Jan 1st 2005 10:21 a.m.
    I thought I would post this response here as well, since I was
    following the responses on rhizome as well.
    best,
    kanarinka

    Begin forwarded message:

    > From: kanarinka <kanarinka@ikatun.com>
    > Date: January 1, 2005 12:13:25 PM EST
    > To: Aileen Derieg <emonk@george.eliot.priv.at>
    > Cc: nettime-l@bbs.thing.net
    > Subject: Re: <nettime> Questioning the Frame
    >
    > I too have followed this post on different lists with much interest as
    > I am currently writing a thesis and a journal article for Cartographic
    > Perspectives on intersections between cartography/art. While I agree
    > that Coco raises important questions about "categories of embodied
    > difference", I find the lack of specific examples in her essay very
    > disappointing. She discusses "new media mantras", "new media culture"
    > and "new media theory" without giving us specific information on what
    > these terms mean to her, who uses these terms and for what purpose.
    > The essay accuses, but it isn't clear who, specifically, is
    > implicated.
    >
    > The definition of maps as purely spatial presentations of an
    > inherently panoptic and omniscient point of view ignores a whole field
    > of projects that are engaging with geographical location in a way that
    > privileges duration, embodiment, and particularity over the
    > panopticism of traditional "maps". As these projects are shifting the
    > borders and boundaries of art, they are also participating in
    > redefining what constitutes a map and what constitutes a "mapping
    > practice". Many of them critique traditional mapmaking just as Coco
    > does (e.g. what is left off of the map? is a truly important question
    > that many projects \_do\_ address). These projects are becoming known as
    > Critical Cartography. What is at stake in most of these projects is
    > performance and difference, not representation and identity.
    >
    > These projects use Deleuze's idea of a map as an abstract machine
    > rather than the traditional panoptic, representational map --
    >
    > "What can we call such a new informal dimension? On one occasion,
    > Foucault gives it its most precise name: it is a
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