I remember back in 91, I was creating a lot of work that involved strategic
and political art, that used technology in the streets. Pirate radio, BBS
systems and all kinds of activist art-antics. Then, it was bulletin boards
that we all used to communicate through in relation to collecting
information that one could not access via traditional channels in the UK.
Some of the names of groups who had BBS's were 'Fastbreeder', run by Matt
Fuller & others, 'New World Disorder', loads more and the one I was running
with Heath Bunting 'Cybercafe', I was co-sysop AKA 'myrth' in 92, a name
that evolved into 'concrete myrth', my street art alias. I was the one who
used to fill up the file's section with radical text's that were anarchist
in nature, with all kinds of writings from various new writers from allover
the world. In fact it was Heath who patiently taught me a lot of computer
stuff. Which I am very grateful for...
When the Internet craze kicked into gear, everything suddenly went manic,
conferences were happening everywhere. I sneaked into a lot of them because
I did not belong to any grouip or organization at the time. The most noted
one for personal reasons was the 'next 5 minutes'. Suddenly I started
meeting new people who had used the networking revolution via the Internet,
successfully and radically, it all seemed pretty positive. At last I
thought, people can now meet each other on a level platform without borders
from whatever background, creed etc (what a chump I was, so innocent).
People were exchanging ideas, exploring conceptual and digital missions/non
missions and ideas in relation to finding new ways of using new technologies
that had recently become so available. Then suddenly, it all changed. The
movement took on the form of falling into the same trap as feminism did,
preaching to a type of person, a class of person but leaving behind the very
people who really needed its support. Those who did not have the comps and
contacts via the platform that many got at colleges and institutions got
left behind. Suddenly debates became centralized via insitutionally promoted
concepts, causing a default of seperation.
Many people from these academic environments began taking over what was at
the time a very anarchist affair. They forged strong contacts with each
other, cyber artists/activists and collecting names of so called radicals
that mainly existed within institutions. Out of this cultural revolution
which had much more to do with networking than creativity, appeared the
'names' that we now know. They know this, without the help of many of these
international institutions they would not be here now. Some are great, some
are not so great. But what always got me confused was the hypocrisy of it
all, listening to these people at conferences questioning various factors of
limited freedoms whilst they themselves would be, and did become an elite
through position and circumstance. Whilst I, myself was being snubbed
because I was not interested in talking the same tribal language.
I remember talking to Heath, who was very much involved with it all at the
time. He said 'You know all this is bullshit don't you?' I said 'I'd love to
have the chance to know'.
Heath and I are best friends and I have known him for many years from the
early days before all this net stuff started. We used to do loads of
projects together and he was the least snotty of them. He seemed to
understand understood the language used by graduates and what was actually
going on, and how pretentious a lot of the hype really was. Through him I
met many met many dudes of whom I would not of met because of my non
institutional links. We meet every now and talk about all this and politics,
struggles in the world and how to conceptually create radical projects to
get around certain issues. These days I am less likely to rant against
insitutions because I have had to change my argument, for as we all know, it
is not al black and white.
I remember arguing with Mark Napier about all this stuff and thinking to
myself 'he's ok really', why am I arguing with him?
Due to managing to create a business that has funded many of our projects
since furtherfield started in 97, plus a few bits of helpful cash from
sponsors and funders in more recent times. By forming furtherfield with Ruth
Catlow, we have managed to create a place on the net that reflects our own
creative ideas on our own terms. Forming an artist collective that deals
with the issues that I mentioned above, thus being interested in those who
are different from the maelstrom of accepted digerati. Now we are
potentially part of the Digerati yet still aware that we are not going to be
officially accepted, which is ok. We have taught many people IT applications
in London who in return helped furtherfield. For us collaboration sometimes
says more than a work of art does, or a clever conceptual net artwork does.
For us it is the function of things that excites us, what it is doing. We
have never been interested in people's cv's and whether they belong to an
institution or not, we consider people's ideas/work on its own terms.
Things have changed, but I will never forget how snotty a lot of these
people were towards those who questioned their intentions. Now I work with a
lot of these people who were then too busy getting known, using 'Internet
mythologies' and the disguise of collective digital freedoms. Fair enough, I
suppose but at who's expense? I have always been keen to take culture out of
the domain of institutions, placing it in the arena of everyday life, thus
actually trying to communicate rather than getting caught up in knots, using
concepts that end up in someone's 'side notes' marked 'clever'. Forming
projects/art for people not 'theorists, artists, intellectuals'.
What I find very interesting now is that it seems that there is some genuine
shift, probably because the secret could not be contained forever. A shift
in respect that there is no one way to create a net art piece, thus freeing
up control over creativity and who actually creates it. It seems that we are
all in the same boat all of a sudden, trying to survive as a varied and
multi-dimensioned collective on mutual terms does seem to be here now. I do
genuinely feel that it is changing for the better, real liberation is
> > Subject: Re: RHIZOME_RAW: your thoughts on upcoming online classes
> T. Whid replied:
> > i'm curious tho, are these classes going to deal with only the
> > 'official' net.art (cosic, shulgin, jody, lialina, etc). imo, net.art
> > is a very specific thing relating to a small group of artists,
> > whereas net art (no dot) is the generic phrase most people use to
> > describe art made using networks, the web, the internet etc.
> Im interested in this concept of official net art v. net art. Are you in
> favour of there being an official net art and an unofficial one, or
> I cant tell from this post. Or maybe probably you dont care?
> + bostoniscoolerthannewyorkbostoniscoolerthannewyorkbostoniscoolerthanne
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