Net.Dialogue.8: The Loss of Inscription

Posted by Alexander Galloway | Fri May 17th 2002 1 a.m.

Net.Dialogue.8: The Loss of Inscription
(Mark Amerika with Giselle Beiguelman)

MA: You have created a beautiful site called http://desvirtual.com where
many people from around the world were first turned on to your work The
Book After The Book. Although you have said that this work is not net
art per se but is more "a hybrid of criticism and hypervisual essay,"
one of the works that came after - <content=no cache> - started feeling
like a playful art project than an essay per se...can you elaborate on
what you were doing with this project?

GB: <Content=No Cache> was conceived in 2000 and I did it right after
the Book after the Book.

It's not an essay but it explores online writing and the phenomena of
the loss of inscription, which reverts all our cultural traditions that
usually link memory to writing proofs.

Its point of departure is this curious tag ("content = no cache").
Placed in the html code it updates the contents of any online page,
erasing what was written before. In this sense, it announces a new
condition of writing.

From now on it does not inscribe anymore. It could be pointing to new
epistemological paradigms and ways of producing memories and
representations, but maybe because our printed background and the
metaphorical use of the web: why do we call web sites, sites, if they
are non-sites? why do we need the reference of the page to describe what
happens on the screen? most of on line writing just describes... Like
Error Messages.

Integrated to The Book of Errors it also documents the relationship
between web readers and errors messages. Those messages are
aesthetically reworked and exhibited in new screens. By doing this, the
web site creates a different context for them and inverts the relation
between what is seen and what is read.

In a few words, <Content=No Cache> works as if it would be possible to
operate in the limits between reading and vision, in order to explore
what is supposed to be a cyberliteracy based upon an alphanumeric
culture.

MA: How does this "cyberliteracy" you are so in tune with, inform your
recent work, I'm thinking particularly of the mobile phone projects and
your use of WAP as a potential nomadic device to transmit what can only
be called nomadic narrative? And how can "literary imagination" find
its way into these transmissions as well?

GB: You are right, the mobile phone projects are far away from our
traditional backgrounds. They are nomadic devices and they make us think
on different artistic interventions, conceived to be experienced on the
move, in between, while doing other things. They are not contemplative
at all. Mobile phones and PDAs are tools we need because we are already
multitask personalities. You have a mobile phone in order to be able to
drive and make a call. You are supposed to be concentrated in many
things simultaneously and being involved in different situations. So
those nomadic devices interest me because they point to new reading
contexts and, as always, it is important to keep in mind: you do not
talk about a world of reading without talking about a reading of the
world. In this sense they will probably force us to redefine our
understanding of what is art. They demand new concepts and art
experiences tuned with entropy and acceleration.

This is something that disturbs and attracts me, I worked on this on
"Wopart" and in "Leste o Leste?" (Did you read the East) which was a
teleintervention in electronic panels, that explored the entropy and
acceleration of the city as the main space of action.

MA: It seems that in order for art to have purpose, it oftentimes must
intervene in the mainstream culture, to call it to account. This means
hacking corporate culture and challenging preconceived realities whether
they be commercially or artistically generated (or both). What was the
concept behind your recent web art project created for the Sao Paolo
Biennial, the one called "ceci n'est pas un nike"? Why Magritte - and
why Nike?

GB: This was created for and inspired by the SP Biennial. Web art became
an institutional hype and this has many consequences. One of them is
integration to the market _ what is good and bad_ the other is its
misunderstanding of online art. And here we find deeper questions
involved in this absorption of web art by museums, galleries and
foundations.

Usually the presence of web artist in exhibitions like the SP Biennial
is associated with the physical presence of computers in the building.
Online experience is reduced to surface and hidden by a fake objectual
condition. Moreover sponsors give computers and connections in order to
sell their e-biz (machines or connection services) and the artist is
converted into a useful accessory for marketing chains.

In some ways, traditional institutions need surface and objects in order
to see art, meaning and value. They cannot stand or don't know how to
deal with interfaces that connects local situations to non-site.

Nikes are surface only. Web sites are interfaces.

"Ceci n'est pas un nike" (desvirtual.com/nike) updates Magritte's simple
statement "This is not a pipe/this is a drawing that pictures a pipe",
that points to the conflict between representation and presentation. It
discusses the conflict between interface and surface, exploring elements
of that non-surface situation of cyberspace: the possibilities of
interferences in the web site icon _the nike_ (the e-nike generator) and
in the critical text that uses a wiki platform (the e-palimpsest) . You
can create, publish, destroy and rebuild everything because it is online
and you are working in a special interface, not inside the computer or
on the monitor surface...

MA: Are we living in Apocalypse Now?

GB: I'm too chaotic, so I'm in a Fractal process of recreation. There is
not any messianic future that could replace my contractions and internal
gaps. I hope so.

+ + +

Mark Amerika's FILMTEXT has recently been exhibited in London, Melbourne
and at the European Media Art Festival. Forthcoming exhibitions will
take place in various international locations including SIGGRAPH 2002
and ISEA Nagoya. Updates available at www.markamerika.com

Giselle Beiguelman is a multimedia essayist and web-artist who lives in
Soa Paulo, Brazil, and has been presenting her web works in exhibits,
festivals and scientific events devoted to new media art.
  • Max Herman | Sat May 18th 2002 1 a.m.
    In a message dated 5/17/2002 12:07:23 PM Central Daylight Time,
    Mark.Amerika@Colorado.EDU writes:

    > Net.Dialogue.8: The Loss of Inscription
    > (Mark Amerika with Giselle Beiguelman)

    I invented an idea about this, hope it's not stolen, inscription has changed
    to exscription.

    Inscribe/Exscribe etc. Is that her idea too?

    Max Herman
  • Max Herman | Sat May 18th 2002 1 a.m.
    In a message dated 5/17/2002 12:07:23 PM Central Daylight Time,
    Mark.Amerika@Colorado.EDU writes:

    > MA: It seems that in order for art to have purpose, it oftentimes must
    > intervene in the mainstream culture, to call it to account.

    Mark, that's my feeling too, the necessity of exscription after the demise of
    inscription.

    NN says you're great so I agree too. But does Guiselle prefer Walt Benjamin,
    or Baudrillard? That's my major malfunction-question.

    Max Herman

    ++
  • Max Herman | Sat May 18th 2002 1 a.m.
    In a message dated 5/17/2002 12:07:23 PM Central Daylight Time,
    Mark.Amerika@Colorado.EDU writes:

    > Nikes are surface only. Web sites are interfaces.
    >
    I disagree here, and side with Oscar Wilde, who said "Art is at once both
    surface and substance," the Nike is real substance, it is structure and
    infrastructure at the basic level. That's my hypothesis, far from proven of
    course.

    > "Ceci n'est pas un nike" (desvirtual.com/nike) updates Magritte's simple
    > statement "This is not a pipe/this is a drawing that pictures a pipe",
    >

    I wonder if Magritte and Wilde are adversaries, perhaps moral rivals in
    surrealism and the demise of the image in Decadence part one.

    So question answered, Benjamin is less likely to write about Magritte then
    Baudrillard, too bad they can't write about eah other.

    Max Herman
  • Max Herman | Sat May 18th 2002 1 a.m.
    In a message dated 5/17/2002 12:07:23 PM Central Daylight Time,
    Mark.Amerika@Colorado.EDU writes:

    > MA: Are we living in Apocalypse Now?
    >
    > GB: I'm too chaotic, so I'm in a Fractal process of recreation. There is
    > not any messianic future that could replace my contractions and internal
    > gaps. I hope so.

    Whoa, weird ending!

    Max
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