net art dead or just moved neighborhoods.

Posted by Jason Nelson | Tue Aug 1st 2006 7:11 a.m.

Jim (and others),

Such great words here. There always seems to be this fight, this sort of strange
need for institutional acceptance. These institutions with heavy doors, locked with
tents and sleeping bags of artists waiting outside for entry. The large bouncer of
curators, and funding bodies.

I might have mentioned this before. But I'm in a quandry. The difficulty of being in
academia is that one must constantly "measure" the impact of their work.

So in one way, the pay and security is pleasing, but in another an artist must find
the most "known" institutions and send your work there. And while those venues are
most likely filled with gorgeous people, with sturdy ankles, they really shouldnt be our sole audience. And in fact they should be a very minor part of how net artwork should be shared, let's say 15 percent. Lets say that.

And yet that is the audience that gives the least....well...um....audience. For example
I recently had a few older works, Uncontrallable Semantics, This is how you will die,
and Hermeticon, picked up by sites like Fark.com and I-AM-BORED.com and other
link aggregators. And with that has come 2.2 million visitors to my site secrettechnology.com in the past 4 months. In addition this audience e-mails you and
suggests your work in that wonderful viral way, that blog to site to forum to newspaper sort of way. And you can see them go through entire works, spending sometime
an hour or more exploring. This is the audience I want and this should be the audience
we seek.

What this then suggests is that part of this discussion about net art dead or dying or
failing etc....is because so much of it moving to institutions. While this could lead to
more funding, more respect in some circles, it is the wrong direction for net art to swim. Or maybe it simply is the wrong SOLE direction. Institutions are here to share artwork
with some audience. But we circumvent the need for institutions. Well....almost
there is still the point about funding. Well....not sure what to say about that.

Also....it does appear that many former net artists have moved to installation or
what seems to be mislabelled as new media art: video art. This again seems to be
sign of net artists moving towards buildings, rather than the web.

So consider this missive another well traveled call for swimming in what ever the hell
direction you want. I want to be a cowboy.

Jason

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  • mark cooley | Tue Aug 1st 2006 10:35 a.m.
    nicely put. the academic dillema is difficult because getting work into bigger institutions also leaves out certain possibilities. i've a list of projects that i've been putting off now partly because they are more activist oriented things and won't count for anything to my bosses. how can they evaluate an installation in a Walmart parking lot. There are publications that may be interested in that sort of thing but it takes a constant effort to educate those in charge of tenure process ect that these things are valuable.

    however it possible to be subversive within the institutions (and fun when you can get away with it) as net art moves into the institution and takes on a place in Art History it becomes even more important to have voices on the inside critiquing that process. There are artists that have done this beautifully for years in other genre. Hans Haacke, Andrea Frasier, Martha Rosler and many others. I think in general the problem with New Media art is that there seems to be very little criticism of the institution in terms of political economy. sure there is a boat load of political work but very little that touches on the political economy of New Media. Artist's are happy to work with criticism of U.S. foriegn policy etc, economic globalization etc. but it seems whenever we start talking about how Art might be implicated in those things then people get very uncomfortable. if you talk about the coffee trade people get up in arms, but if you talk about how computers are manufactured and under what conditions all of a sudden there is all kinds of reactionary statements about how New Media Art has nothing to do with politics and economics. That's like saying the gas i put in my car has nothing to do with the war we're in because I like to drive my car. There is an ideologies that help us to avoid seeing these connections. Long ago I noticed that Rhizome has "technophobia" as a key word. I'm waiting for "Technophilia" to be added. I'm guessing that there are not a whole lot of technophobes reading this list. Technophiles though may be another story.

    Jason Nelson wrote:

    > Jim (and others),
    >
    > Such great words here. There always seems to be this fight, this
    > sort of strange
    > need for institutional acceptance. These institutions with heavy
    > doors, locked with
    > tents and sleeping bags of artists waiting outside for entry. The
    > large bouncer of
    > curators, and funding bodies.
    >
    > I might have mentioned this before. But I'm in a quandry. The
    > difficulty of being in
    > academia is that one must constantly "measure" the impact of their
    > work.
    >
    > So in one way, the pay and security is pleasing, but in another an
    > artist must find
    > the most "known" institutions and send your work there. And while
    > those venues are
    > most likely filled with gorgeous people, with sturdy ankles, they
    > really shouldnt be our sole audience. And in fact they should be a
    > very minor part of how net artwork should be shared, let's say 15
    > percent. Lets say that.
    >
    > And yet that is the audience that gives the
    > least....well...um....audience. For example
    > I recently had a few older works, Uncontrallable Semantics, This is
    > how you will die,
    > and Hermeticon, picked up by sites like Fark.com and I-AM-BORED.com
    > and other
    > link aggregators. And with that has come 2.2 million visitors to my
    > site secrettechnology.com in the past 4 months. In addition this
    > audience e-mails you and
    > suggests your work in that wonderful viral way, that blog to site to
    > forum to newspaper sort of way. And you can see them go through entire
    > works, spending sometime
    > an hour or more exploring. This is the audience I want and this
    > should be the audience
    > we seek.
    >
    > What this then suggests is that part of this discussion about net
    > art dead or dying or
    > failing etc....is because so much of it moving to institutions.
    > While this could lead to
    > more funding, more respect in some circles, it is the wrong
    > direction for net art to swim. Or maybe it simply is the wrong SOLE
    > direction. Institutions are here to share artwork
    > with some audience. But we circumvent the need for institutions.
    > Well....almost
    > there is still the point about funding. Well....not sure what to say
    > about that.
    >
    > Also....it does appear that many former net artists have moved to
    > installation or
    > what seems to be mislabelled as new media art: video art. This again
    > seems to be
    > sign of net artists moving towards buildings, rather than the web.
    >
    > So consider this missive another well traveled call for swimming in
    > what ever the hell
    > direction you want. I want to be a cowboy.
    >
    > Jason
    >
    >
    > ---------------------------------
    > Do you Yahoo!?
    > Everyone is raving about the all-new Yahoo! Mail Beta.
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