Enter Port-MIT

Posted by Rhizome | Fri Feb 7th 1997 1 a.m.

Port-MIT: Navigating Digital Culture
organized by artnetweb
at The List Visual Arts Center,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

by G.H. Hovagimyan

The ground rules for the digital art of the next century are being
worked out now. One of the stickier points, how to do an internet show
that goes beyond a row of computers with links to people's homepages.
This presentation is what one usually encounters in art galleries trying
to accomodate the new form. It works to a degree but somehow the viewer
is still trapped in the box. Furthermore the metaphor doesn't begin to
explore the flexibility of the internet.

Enter Port-MIT and I mean enter it.

To get beyond the stasis of computer terminals an open ended design
discussion was set up on a ListServ with the exhibitions core
participants and the List Visual Arts Center curators.They discussed all
the potential directions and designed the final build out. To help the
visualization process Marek Walzcyk an architect who has been moving
into art circles, used VRML (virtual reality modeling language). The
final product is, to quote Adrianne Wortzel, "an armature upon which
time based performative internet events are viewed/ interacted with."

The initial impetus for Port-MIT came from a conversation between Remo
Campopiano and the List center curators. The core participants
responsible are Robbin Murphy, Adrianne Wortzel, Ebon Fisher, G.H.
Hovagimyan as well as Remo Campopiano and Marek Walzcyk. The show is two
months long. This isn't just any old computer internet show. The group
decided to forego web pages and go for performance or interactive
events. All the works are being streamed to MIT over the internet. Some
or all depend upon performer/ operators at MIT to make sure things are
up and running.

At the opening the four large rear projection screens floating above the
center of the gallery hosted four different events/interfaces. One
screen had the Time Warner/ generic virtual chat world called Palace
with veteran conceptual artist Lawrence Wiener engaging in cartoon
avatar chat. This was produced by Adaweb and streamed to Boston from
NYC. One of the more poignant moments, a disconsulate Joseph Kosuth
realizing the action was not in the gallery room exhibiting his works,
good naturedly strolls into Port and plunks down for some Avatar chat
with his colleague Lawrence Weiner.

Sawad Brooks on another screen treated people to hi-tech 3D interactive
Java applets. This was replaced by Marek Walzcyk performing VRML on the
fly drawings using the URL's of peoples web pages to spin 3D Avatars.
The two other screens housed remote video and sound streamed
performance/ situation/ environments by Ebon Fisher titled Wailing in
the Alula Dimension and Art Dirt/Cosy Disco/ by G.H. Hovagimyan, Peter
Sinclair and the LOIEL workshop at the Ecole D'art D'Aix-en-Provence.
Fisher's Alula dimension, a stark meditation chamber/ box with portholes
for people to crawl in and out realized the social forces of a primitive
gathering encapsulated and transported via Cu See Me to the Port screen.
On occasion performers would crawl out, stare into the camera and wail
to startling effect.

The Cosy Disco event was even more energetic. The disco, actually a step
van that Sinclair altered to open out into a portable stage was covered
by a 40 foot diameter inflatable enviroment constructed by Christian
Soucaret and the LOEIL Workshop. Along with sound works, there were live
performances by artists such as Alexandre Pazmandy, Eddy Godeberge and
G.H. Hovagimyan. G.H. with the help of Julien Hokim translated his Hey
Bozo... Use Mass Transit rap into Marseille banlieu slang and performed
it live with two local artists Natalie Andrei and Ox. This was streamed
to Port-MIT in Boston.

It must be noted that part of the Port-MIT concept, that works would be
accessible not only in the gallery but also to remote participants on
the internet, has opened a new direction for gallery/ internet
exhibitions.

The exhibition runs through March 29th and has artists from around the
world engaging the Port-MIT armature. Live events are continuous
starting at noon on Tuesdays. For information and schedules look on
http://artnetweb.com/port or call the List Center for the Visual Arts in
Boston.
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