Conference Report: NET.ART (SECOND EPOCH)

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Last week I attended the NET.ART (SECOND EPOCH) conference in Buenos Aires, organized by Medialab-Prado. The subtitle, "The Evolution of Artistic Creation in the Net-system" speaks to the broad range of perspectives included at the conference and, indeed, the Madrid-based organization was able to draw participants from all over Latin America, including Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, and Chile to the week-long panel series, which was hosted by the Centro Cultural de EspaƱa.

Most of the discussion at the conference centered around framing the history of net art, articulating its recent transitions, and assessing the current state of the field. There was a general agreement that while many critics declared net art dead after the fall of the dot-com economy, it in fact never went anywhere and is instead still thriving.

Minnesota-based curator Steve Dietz and Amsterdam-based critic Josephine Bosma presented keynote talks on the current state of the network and networked art. These talks were framed as "seminars," with each lecture followed by structured group debates. Dietz's talk was entitled "Beyond 'Beyond Interface': Art in the Age of Ubiquitous Networking." He proposed that we consider whether what we are seeing now as truly a second epoch of net art, or rather something more like art after networks. While his talk came before Bosma's closing lecture, the latter looked back farther in taking a different historical perspective. Bosma articulated five generations of networked artists, the first of which predated the public interest. Her paper was prefaced by a confession that critics always view work through the lens of the era in which they came upon the art scene, and that while she is considered an expert in the field, she now feels removed from the present generation of net artists who are no longer working within the "Net ...

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Past in the Present

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Image: Vivian Selbo, Vertical Blanking Interval, 1996 (From "Net Art 1.0")

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Image: Jodi, map, 2000 (From "Net Art 1.0")

The rapid pace of development online often contributes to the illusion that the recent past is more distant than it is in actuality. Steve Dietz's "Net Art 1.0", an exhibition curated for Steve Lambert's Firefox Application AddArt, replaces advertisements on web pages with screenshots of some of early Net Art's greatest hits. By substituting pesky ads inviting you to lose weight or join eHarmony with images of works such as Vivian Selbo's Vertical Blanking Interval (1996), Vuk Cosic's ASCII history of moving images (1999) and Jodi's map (2000), the ghost of Net Art's past becomes manifest in the here and now. In the curatorial statement, Dietz remarks that these works "pressaged the present with uncanny precision" and, indeed, the emphasis on concerns that are still prevalent, such as the mediation of human connection and the blurring between public and private, reminds us that a decade isn't exactly equivalent to an eon.

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Brooklyn Museum 1stfans Interview from Museum 2.0

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1stfans: An Audience-Specific Membership Program at the Brooklyn Museum on Museum 2.0


Museum 2.0 interviews Brooklyn Museum's 1stfans managers Will Cary, Shelley Bernstein and An Xiao. 1stfans is a new membership initiative, launched only last month, which utilizes social media platforms to build and target specific museum audiences. They plan to incorporate a number of different groups in the future, but in its current iteration, they gear the program toward web-savvy museum-goers who frequent their free events, but don't opt to purchase high level memberships. (1stfans is only $20 a year.) It's an interesting venture, and they've gone far and beyond simply managing a Facebook profile for the museum. In an effort to build a more dynamic and two-way relationship between the museum and the community, 1stfans offers creative perks such as a private Twitter Art Feed maintained by a revolving group of artists and invitations to offbeat 1stfans events, like a talk by conservator Lisa Bruno on animal mummies.

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Contemporary Semantics Beta

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Arti et Amicitiae
Rokin 112 Amsterdam 14-02-09 t/m 22-03-09
opening Friday the 13th at 8pm

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Electronic Examiner on San Francisco's KRON in 1981

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A short 1981 news clip from San Francisco's television station KRON covering the "Electronic Examiner," an electronic version of the print San Francisco Examiner, which was distributed on a basic computer network.

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Interview with Graham Harwood

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Telephone Trottoire is a publishing system for communities to share news, stories, and opinions over the mobile phone. The system dials members of the Congolese community and plays them a recording in the Lingala language. The recording might be a story, song, or joke, or it could be a discussion of a serious issue. The recipient of the call has the option of leaving a comment in response or forwarding the call to someone else, allowing the system to grow virally. It was developed on behalf of Congolese communities in London by MediaShed, a 'free-media' organization based in Southend-on-Sea, England.

At 01SJ 2008, three artists Graham Harwood, Richard Wright and Matsuko Yokokoji (formerly Mongrel ) presented Tantalum Memorial, an art installation based on Telephone Trottoire. This same installation will be on view at the art and digital culture festival transmediale in Berlin this week. Tantalum Memorial is one of eight projects to win the transmediale 2009 Award. I met up with Harwood at a Peet's Coffee in San Jose last June to discuss these two projects. He wore a hat with the word 'ADDICT' emblazoned across the front (his son's) and ordered an herbal tea. - Michael Connor

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Raqs Media Collective at the New Museum's Night School

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Image: Raqs Media Collective, There Has Been a Change of Plan, 2006

Tonight at 7 p.m. the Dehli-based Raqs Media Collective will begin a three-day run of programs at the New Museum, as part of the Night School series of public seminars. Raqs has been embraced by the art world, although, as the ambiguity of the group's name suggests, the scope of its projects extend to a larger audience. Monica Narula, Jeebesh Bagchi, and Shuddhabrata Sengupta joined forces in 1992, after they completed their studies in Mass Communications in Delhi, and, at the time, had planned a collective career in independent cinema. But their work in documentary filmmaking and public broadcasting, coupled with their fascination with the nascent internet, drew them to issues related to the production and dissemination of information. Today, they continue to address those "rarely asked questions," to use the phrase the group has half-jokingly suggested its name is an abbreviation for.

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Image: Raqs Media Collective, OPUS [ Open Platform for Unlimited Signification]

Raqs's projects tend to take the form of open-ended, open-sourced networks. OPUS, or Open Platform for Unlimited Signification, is an online database of artist-submitted artworks. Conceived in the spirit of open-source software development, Raqs's online digital commons encourage sharing, collaborating, and appropriation. The collective's commitment to free culture continues in The Sarai Programme at Delhi's Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. The Sarai network of artists and scholars produce vast amounts of research and other forms of cultural knowledge, all of which is placed in the public domain.

The collective has also expressed its sensibility through a resistance to restrictions and hierarchies in their installations, performances, and theoretical writings. A recent essay in the inaugural issue of e-flux's Journal takes several fresh and surprising approaches to make ...

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Spreading the Wealth

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An exhibition at Philadelphia's Basekamp, entitled "What's Mine Is Yours" speculates loosely about the origin of the eponymous phrase, asking if it a Jewish proverb or a socialist ideal, while also working to answer the bigger question of why on earth artists would want to collaborate -- with each other or their audiences. While the art market encourages single authors, hierarchy, and conceptual or physical territorialism, in "What's Mine Is Yours" curator Sara Reisman has encouraged artists to share their feelings about.... sharing. The results are intriguingly as politically charged as they are mystical. Take, for example, Star Systems, a video work in which Bjorn Kjelltoft and Shana Moulton merged their identities. While Rey Akdogan's list of the pros and cons of collaborating could be read as a manifesto, tongue-in-cheek, or fair warning, the Mercury Twins' nebulous Cloud City invites the public to cluster like instant cloud formations. The show opens today and also includes radio-performance work by Kabir Carter and a real-time public networking project by vydavy sindikat. - Marisa Olson

Image: Bjorn Kjelltoft and Shana Moulton, Broken Meatballs with Infinity, 2007 (Video Still)

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cybercafe @ kings x (1994) - Heath Bunting

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"During the day of Friday 5th August 1994
the telephone booth area behind the destination board
at kings X British Rail station will be borrowed
and used for a temporary cybercafe."

kings x Press Release.
kings x Report.

Other "Cybercafe Net Art Projects."

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A Tasty Mixture:<br> J&L's "Videos and Vodka"

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Available this month, "Videos and Vodka," the second DVD anthology from J&L Video, comprises selections from a video salon artist Jacob Dyrenforth and curator Eva Respini ran out of their Brooklyn loft from 2004-2006. A strong sense of community binds the works, owing in part to the fact that Dyrenforth received his MFA from Columbia alongside many of the featured artists, including Ohad Meromi, Guy Ben-Ner and Lisi Raskin, as well as to the number of emerging, New York-based artists in the program. In an essay accompanying the anthology, Dyrenforth and Respini foreground these facts, describing their decision to create Video Salon as arising, in part, from a need to provide their friends and the broader public with "non-traditional viewing spaces," in the style of the "collectives, collaboratives and artist-run spaces" established in New York in the 1970s. While the 1990s saw the rise of high-production films, videos and moving-image installations from artists like Matthew Barney, Doug Aitken and Jane and Louise Wilson, many younger artists, the curators claim, "are reconnecting to a history that pre-dates the black-boxed multi-channel universe." Several of the works, for example, build whimsical or fantastical scenarios from patently everyday materials and circumstances, like Untitled, Air Guitar (2005), in which Robin Rhode plays and destroys a guitar drawn, sequentially, on a wall; or Ben-Ner's Berkeley's Island (2000) where the artist/father's desire for solitude manifests itself as a Crusoe-esque life on a desert island, comically set in the center of his kitchen. Others present intensively personal or shared narratives, from the deconstructed footage and text of Lisa Oppenheim's Dioptric (2003) - taken from an imaginary scrapbook - to the three-way telephone conversation in John Pilson's Sunday Scenario (2005), where the back-and-forth between baseball aficionados becomes a language unto itself. - Tyler Coburn


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