Matthias Fritsch is an independent artist from Berlin, most well known for his work Kneecam No 1—the live video that brought Technoviking to the internet. Over a decade after he uploaded the clip that went viral, Fritsch now is enduring a long legal battle with Technoviking himself, who sued for the reproduction, proliferation, and unwarranted use of his likeness. In response to the process, Fritsch is making The Story of Technoviking, a crowd-funded documentary that aims to shed light on the legal issues surrounding viral images. Below, Fritsch talks about what it’s like do battle in court with a viking, the ownership of images in the internet age, and hopes for his current project.
My Life Without Technoviking—since the trial began, Fritsch is no longer allowed to use images of the plaintiff's face.
DQ: Matthias, I'm of course curious about the video that originated it all. What was, for you, Kneecam No 1 (2000) before it became an internet meme? Why did you upload it to YouTube? Were you expecting such a viral reaction? What did you think when it happened?
This text has been written for the proceedings of the international conference "New Perspectives, New Technologies", organized by the Doctoral School Ca' Foscari - IUAV in Arts History and held in Venice and Pordenone, Italy in October 2011
The "portal" designed by Antenna Design to show net based art in the exhibition "Art Entertainment Network", Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2000. Courtesy Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.
In the late nineties and during the first decade of this century the term “new media art” became the established label for that broad range of artistic practices that includes works that are created, or in some way deal with, new media technologies. Providing a more detailed definition here would inevitably mean addressing topics beyond the scope of this paper, that I discussed extensively in my book Media, New Media, Postmedia (Quaranta 2010). By way of introduction to the issues discussed in this paper, we can summarize the main argument put forward in the book: that this label, and the practices it applies to, developed mostly in an enclosed social context, sometimes called the “new media art niche”, but that would be better described as an art world in its own right, with its own institutions, professionals, discussion platforms, audience, and economic model, and its own idea of what art is and should be; and that only in recent years has the practice managed to break out of this world, and get presented on the wider platform of contemporary art.
It was at this point in time, and mainly thanks to curators who were actively involved in the presentation of new media art in the contemporary art arena, that the debate about “curating new media (art)” took shape. This debate was triggered by the pioneering work of curators – from Steve Dietz to Jon Ippolito, Benjamin Weil and Christiane Paul – who at the turn of the millennium curated seminal new media art exhibitions for contemporary art museums; and it was – and still is –nurtured by CRUMB - “Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss” - a platform and mailing list founded by Beryl Graham and Sarah Cook in 2000 within the School of Arts, Design, Media and Culture at the University of Sunderland, UK. As early as 2001, CRUMB organized the first ever meeting of new media curators in the UK as part of BALTIC's pre-opening program – a seminar on Curating New Media held in May 2001.
In the context of this paper, our main reference texts will be CRUMB-related publications, from the proceedings of “Curating New Media” (2001) to Rethinking Curating. Art After New Media (2010), a recent book by Beryl Graham and Sarah Cook; and New Media in the White Cube and Beyond, a book edited by Christiane Paul in 2008. Instead of addressing the specific issues and curatorial models discussed in these publications, we will try to focus on the very foundations of “curating new media”, exploring questions like: does new media art require a specific curatorial model? Does this curatorial model follow the way artists working with new media currently present themselves on the contemporary art platform? How much could “new media art” benefit from a non-specialized approach? Are we curating “new media” or curating “art”? ...
The following excerpt comes from the final chapter of my book Media, New Media, Postmedia, recently published in Italian by Postmediabooks, who kindly gave Rhizome permission to republish it in English. The book is an attempt to analyze the current positioning of so-called “New Media Art” in the wider field of contemporary arts, and to explore the historical, sociological and conceptual reasons for its marginal position and under-recognition in recent art history.
October 7, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GAMESCENES: THE BOOK
M. Bittanti, D. Quaranta (editors), GameScenes. Art in the Age of Videogames, Milan, Johan & Levi 2006. Hardcover, 454 pages, 25 x 25 cm, 200+ hi-res illustrations, available from October 2006.
GameScenes. Art in the Age of Videogames is the first volume entirely dedicated to Game Art. Edited by Matteo Bittanti and Domenico Quaranta, GameScenes provides a detailed overview of the emerging field of Game Art, examining the complex interaction and intersection of art and videogames.
Video and computer game technologies have opened up new possibilities for artistic creation, distribution, and appreciation. In addition to projects that might conventionally be described as Internet Art, Digital Art or New Media Art, there is now a wide spectrum of work by practitioners that crosses the boundaries between various disciplines and practices. The common denominator is that all these practitioners use digital games as their tools or source of inspiration to make art. They are called Game Artists.
GameScenes explores the rapidly expanding world of Game Art in the works of over 30 international artists. Included are several milestones in this field, as well as some lesser known works. In addition to the editors' critical texts, the book contains contributions from a variety of international scholars that illustrate, explain, and contextualize the various artifacts.
ARTISTS: AES+F, Cory Arcangel, Aram Bartholl, Dave Beck, Tobias Bernstrup, Nick Bertke, John Paul Bichard, Marco Cadioli, Mauro Ceolin, Brody Condon, Joseph DeLappe, Delire (Julian Oliver), Todd Deutsch, Micah Ganske, Beate Geissler
"IN\_RETE" Miniartextil 2006
New Media Art Curator
Como, October 7th - November 12th, 2006
Chiesa di San Francesco & other venues
Arte&Arte is pleased to announce in\_rete (in\_the\_net), the XVI edition of the International Exhibition of Contemporary Textile Art Miniartextil. The exhibition will take place in various public and private venues in Como (Italy), and will run from the 7th of September through the 12th of November 2006.
This year, the exhibition will focus on the connections - both metaphorical and literal - between two worlds and two media: the fabric and the Net. In order to suggest these connections, the main venue of the exhibition - the fascinating church of San Francesco in Como - will host five new media installations, from both Italian and American artists: Relations (2004), a generative software by Italian Alessandro Capozzo; Exuvia (2006), mixed media innstallation by Alessandro Capozzo and Katia Noppes; Quixote (2004 - 2006), a moblog living performance by Italian artists Gianni Corino and Lorenzo Verna; Screening Circle (2006), the interactive installation of an online work by the American artist Andy Deck, a 2006 commission of the Whitney Artport and the Tate Online; Knitoscope Testimonies (2006) by Cat Mazza, a series of videos produced with a software that translates digital video into a knitted animation; and the Infome Imager Lite Workshop (2005), an installation featuring a Web Visualization Software by the American artist Lisa Jevbratt.
As the New Media Art section curator Domenico Quaranta wrote: “There are many associations between digital media and the world of textiles, dating right back to the advent of the computer and gradually firming up over time. Such links can be observed not only in terms of how computers work and the structure of binary code, but also in a series of metaphors, concepts and forms: the net, the web, weaving pixels, pattern, texture, etc.
New Media Art, which works with the social, political and cultural consequences of the media it utilises, is well aware of these links, and this awareness emerges both in its aesthetics, and in the operative techniques implemented. In particular, all Net Art (namely art which comes into being on the web and for the web, and uses the web as its tool of choice, and also its main theme) is by definition a textile art, as it plays a part in enriching the fabric of cyberspace and creating networks, building and activating communities. In other words, net art is the art of weaving the web, which grants it an enormous potential, enabling it not only to comment on the media it utilises but also to contribute to its life, its creation and its history.”
Alessandro Capozzo (IT), Relations, 2004, http://www.abstract-codex.net/relations/index.html
Alessandro Capozzo & Katia Noppes (IT), Exuvia, 2006, http://www.abstract-codex.net/exuvia/index.html
Gianni Corino & Lorenzo Verna (IT), Quixote, 2004 - 2006, http://www.quixote.it/
Andy Deck (USA), Screening Circle, 2006, http://artcontext.net/act/05/screeningCircle/
Cat Mazza (USA), Knitoscope Testimonies, 2006, http://www.turbulence.org/Works/microRevolt/
Lisa Jevbratt (USA), Infome Imager, 2002 - 2005, http://jevbratt.com/infome\_imager/lite
HI-RES IMAGES & CATALOGUE TEXT:
Miniartextil - http://www.miniartextil.it/
Domenico Quaranta - http://www.domenicoquaranta.net/
ARTE&ARTE Associazione Culturale
Via Pannilani 23 - 22100 Como
Tel & Fax 031.305621
with Jon Ippolito
di Domenico Quaranta
[Published in "Noemalab", October 2005,
In the same section you can read previous interviews, more focused on
ada'web, with Steve Dietz -
and Benjamin Weil -
In despite of the pioneering commitment of curators and institutions
which, during the last decade, started studying the methods of archiving
and preserving new media, they are very far away from a definite
solution, the one that defeats all the rest, forces itself upon them and
becomes routine. Maybe there is no best solution, and (maybe) this is
the best part of the whole business.
Jon Ippolito's work seems to substantiate this hypothesis. Even better,
it seems to say: "there is a best solution, but it's variable". From the
seasoned case history of ada'web's archiving, that Ippolito - together
with his adversarial collaborators, Janet Cohen e Keith Frank - worked
out with an unreliable archivist, to the Variable Media Initiative and
the Seeing Double exhibition, let's run through the stages of this
DQ. What do you think about ada'web? Do you think that its (old, in
web-years) experience can teach something to current net art?
JI. ada'web's role in the history of Internet art is unmistakable. There
were certainly works of Internet art that preceded ada'web and/or
reached beyond its cultural and geographic bias - most notably the
classic European "net.art" works of the early 90s. Nevertheless, ada'web
was the first and foremost platform for Internet art in the mid-1990s,
and remains relevant to this day.
That said, my artistic collaborators Janet Cohen, Keith Frank, and I
didn't like everything on ada'web - which is why we set out to "improve" it.
DQ. What about the way ada'web has been collected by the Walker Art Center?
JI. While other curators wrung their hands about the nightmare of
archiving digital media, Steve Dietz, the architect of the Walker's
Digital Study Collection, leapt into the abyss and resurfaced with a
pearl. Of course it would have been great for him to do variable media
interviews with all the artists first, but you have to remember that one
of the inspirations for the Variable Media Network was Steve's daring
leap. In new media, we learn by doing, and Steve was the first to do it
in a thoughtful way.
DQ. How did The Unreliable Archivist see the light?
JI. Janet and Keith and I often joked about our Force Majeure resume -
Force Majeure being the clause that lets parties break a contract thanks
to an "act of God" like a war or hurricane. This resume was full of
exhibitions and publications cancelled at the last minute because of
ceilings declared unsafe and so on.
When ada'web curator Benjamin Weil offered to let us make the next
featured work for ada'web, we were very excited - until we heard that
AOL dropped ada'web's funding, at which point we thought, OK there's
another line for our Force Majeure resume.
Then Steve heard about our proposal and the light turned green again.
As an aside, I've worked with and alongside curators who simply shuffle
commissions in and out of their exhibitions to coincide with prevailing
fashions. Steve was a provocative and engaged interlocutor in our
collaboration, both in refining and contextualizing the project. He
probably deserves credit as one of our artistic collaborators.
DQ. Why 'unreliable'? Do you think there's a reliable way to archive a
piece of net art?
JI. Ha! No, you're right. The word "archive" derives from the Greek word
for "house of government" - the same root as monarchy - and their
centralized, controlling nature is proving increasingly unreliable for
the preservation of digital culture.
That said, I'm working with some collaborators on a completely
distributed model for documenting digital art and criticism. I should
also say that I think archiving and collecting are two different things;
the former implies fixed documentation, while the latter requires a more
variable approach to preservation.
DQ. How much of the curator Jon Ippolito can we find in The Unreliable
JI. Hopefully none. A curator's job is to nourish artists and safeguard
their work. In The Unreliable Archivist, my job was to knock them off
DQ. In an interview you had with Liisa Ogburn in April, 2000, you make
yourself a question: "What would it mean to adapt museum culture to net
culture?" Can I make you the same question?
JI. It would mean complementing archivists with animateurs. Animateurs
are those loony folks who re-enact historical moments, whether medieval
jousting tournaments or the Wright brother's first flight. One of
Internet art's first "historians", Robbin Murphy, once suggested that
thinking about animateurs might help us understand what's missing in new
media preservation, and I think he was right. We need this kind of
person - for their anachronistic skills (whether it's wielding a
crossbow or Commodore), their interpretive fidelity (how do you cast
Hamlet in a chat room?), and their enthusiasm for the process of
DQ. As new media curator at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, you
conceived the Variable Media Initiative. What's the current state of the
JI. I was never alone in working on the idea; collaborators like Keith
Frank and Rick Rinehart have contributed more to the idea of variable
media, while folks at the Guggenheim and Langlois Foundation have done
most of the heavy lifting. One of the most ambitious projects we've
accomplished to date is a test of emulation, which is one of the most
important tools in the animateur toolbox. In 2004 Caitlin Jones, Carol
Stringari, Alain Depocas, and I organized Seeing Double, a Guggenheim
exhibition that paired works still running on their original hardware -
such as Grahame Weinbren and Roberta Friedman's Erl King from 1982 -
with emulated versions running on completely different hardware. We did
audience surveys and held a symposium to gauge the reaction of viewers
to the digital doppelgangers we built in the gallery.
Along with innovations like Seeing Double, we continue to refine the
variable media questionnaire, a tool for allowing artists and others to
articulate their visions of how a work may - or may not - be re-created
in a new medium once its current medium becomes obsolete. Although
anyone can currently download the prototype just by requesting it, our
latest thought is to get a Web version up so a broader audience can play
DQ. How did artists react to the VMI?
JI. Almost without exception in our case studies to date, artists have
reacted to the questionnaire with a serious and sustained imagining of
how their work might unfold over time. Some had already devoted some
thought about the future of their work; for others the experience was a
revelation. In every case, as far as I can remember, there was at least
one question the artist had never considered before.
I did get criticisms from a few artists who had no direct knowledge of
the variable media paradigm. They had heard that we asked artists to
give the museum permission to re-create works, and these critics figured
it was just a way for museums to wrest control of the work away from the
artist. Whereas in fact it is precisely the opposite - as the market's
influence on the ultimate fate of Dan Flavin's light installations has
made painfully clear.
DQ. The VMI began with a reflection on net art and its preservation, but
it spread out as far as covering many other fields, and more traditional
(or simply older) art practices. In this sense, can we say that net art
can reach an invaluable role in the updating of museum engine?
JI. Absolutely. The hardest innovation for the museum to swallow is the
network, for museums have historically been defined in the exact
opposite terms (centrality, stasis, rarity, disconnection).
DQ. In "The Museum of the Future: A Contradiction in Terms?" you say:
"... the most extreme departures from the material object, digital or
otherwise, are ultimately the ones whose future depends on the very
institution they were designed to render obsolete". So, does net art
need museums to survive? Do you see other possible solutions?
JI. Net art doesn't need today's museums - it needs what museums will
morph into if they take up the challenge of adapting to the needs of an
increasingly networked culture.
To be sure, my colleagues in the Variable Media Network and I have been
exploring more distributed alternatives to documenting and preserving
Internet creativity. But even the most net-native scheme requires
someone somewhere who dedicates herself to keeping culture alive. More
than technical knowledge, that person needs interpretive skills and a
passion for preserving history undaunted by the many challenges in her
way. Right now that person is most likely to be found in a museum.
DQ. I find the VMI very interesting, but I think it runs the risk of
seeming something like an aggressive therapy. Looking at the
questionnaire, and thinking about strategies like emulation, I can't
reject the idea that they are based on a question like: "How would you
like to live when you'll be dead?" What about this real risk?
JI. New media artworks die and are reborn constantly, with or without
the variable media paradigm. Apartment, a networked piece by Martin
Wattenberg, Marek Walczak, and Jonathan Feinberg, went through some
30-odd variations from 2000 to 2002 alone; it has been incarnated
variously as a net-native piece, a single-user installation, and a
While the artists are still kicking, they can direct the life cycles of
their artworks. But before the artists themselves kick the bucket, they
should have the option of entrusting others to supervise future
re-incarnations of their work.
Your question implies the Variable Media Network could explore the
possibility of resuscitating dead artists as well as artworks -
definitely an option I hadn't considered! Researchers like Hans Moravec
and Ray Kurzweil have proposed that we download our consciousnesses into
hard drives for use with new bodies once our present ones disintegrate.
The reason I find that suggestion so revolting is that I feel very much
part of my body. Partly this is because all my experience is mediated by
it; I might be writing different words now if I were a woman penning a
manuscript in a monastery rather than a guy typing on a laptop in an
airport. But the other reason I've grown attached to my body is that
I've never been separated from it. This is not the case for digital
artworks, whose bodies are swapped out for new parts all the time.
DQ. Today, the ‘love affair’ between contemporary art museums and net
art seems to be in troubles. What about the future of this relationship?
JI. Sure, the relationship is on the rocks now. But there's a
groundswell of interest in Internet art on the part of graduate students
in art history and museum studies departments. Things may change once
this new generation gets a foothold in the museum world. But even then,
these folks will bring a perspective on networked culture that's
different from geezers like me.
DQ. What are you doing now?
JI. I'm about to publish a book with Joline Blais called At the Edge of
Art, which proposes a functional definition for art in the age of the
Internet. We argue that the most creative work these days is coming out
of scientific labs and online activism, and conversely that a lot of
works in galleries - paintings, sculptures, installations - aren't up to
the new tasks that art must fulfill in the 21st century. The book is
sure to piss off curators who assume Duchamp granted the power to define
art to the white cube's gatekeepers. But if Duchamp could be
reincarnated as you suggest, I like to think he would have a good laugh
at their expense.
Jon Ippolito - http://www.three.org/ippolito/
The Unreliable Archivist - http://www.three.org/z/UA/
Variable Media Initiative - http://variablemedia.net/
Seeing Double - http://variablemedia.net/e/seeingdouble/index.html
mob. +39 340 2392478
private mail. email@example.com
job mail. firstname.lastname@example.org
20 October - 10 November 2005
Mediateca di Santa Teresa.
Via della Moscova, 28 - 20121 Milano.
MM2 Moscova or MM3 Turati.
Connessioni Leggendarie is the first exhibition devoted to NET.ART history. Referring to a wide audience it reviews the years from 1995 to 2005; during this decade, artists separated by geographical and socio-political barriers shared ideas and artworks, using them as creative weapons over a new and unique continent: the Internet.
Working with net languages, developing collective actions with a strong media impact, bringing irony, deconstruction and, why not, fun inside the formal severity of digital cultures, artists belonging to NET.ART gave life to a true legend.
Between complex theories and Dadaist euphoria, Connessioni Leggendarie will bring us between hopes and fears of our wildly digitized time. A decade of technical and cultural Far West, aiming to explore and to conquer new lands, languages, behaviours, contraddictions and limits of a world traumatically connected to the information highways.
Born with a taste of historical avant-garde and often blamed of computer and media piracy, NET.ART hit all the aesthetic and conceptual targets in a time of change with no precedent. Huge emulations, spoofs and pillages reveal the borders of obsolete conventions and legal parameters. Aesthetical viruses and media epidemics. Software hacked to blow the user's mind rather than the user's computer.
The exhibition tracks the topic moments of NET.ART history, which is however more similar to a Sergio Leone's "dirty plot" than to the clean museum rooms: to the historian's methods it surely prefers the great romancer mitopoietical ability. There's no other way to talk about FuckUFuckMe, the website selling fake technological apparels for cybersex, ordered by real customers as if they were real; Nike Ground, the mock Nike campaign organized by 0100101110101101.ORG that made Wien citizens go out of their mind; the identity correction of the Yes Men, that made G.W. Bush say: "some freedoms should be limited"; the challenge to the esoteric American electoral machine, realized with an auction website, where citizens were able to sell their vote directly to the best bidder ([V]ote-auction by Ubermorgen)...
The epic narration loves digressions: that's why Connessioni Leggendarie gathers the fast-paced narration of these adventures and long excursuses to the utilization of informatic languages as a poetic language [code poetry], and on the transformation of the software into an artwork, regretting functionalities in favour of aesthetical, conceptual or social needs [software art].
Connessioni Leggendarie isn't, and doesn't want to be, a final exhibition: it's only the first, perfectible version of the legend and an attempt to suggest to institutions, which are often insensible, ways and formulas to preserve a history risking to get completely lost as a document and to be at the mercy of the ungovernable limbo of oral history. In 1995, Jeff Rothemberg warned: "Digital information lasts forever - or for five years, whichever comes first".
Aware of this problem, Connessioni Leggendarie tries this new rigorous interface, using the instruments of documentation and emulation to refer to the spirit of the legend, rather than to quote. Therefore, video documents are displayed together with installations, dedicated PCs and panels, depending on the characteristics of every single project.
* Ubermorgen (Austria)
* The Yes Men (U.S.A.)
* Surveillance Camera Players (U.S.A.)
* Sebastian J. F. (Austria)
* RTMARK (U.S.A.)
* Joan Leandre retroYou (Spain)
* Mark Napier (U.S.A.)
* Natalie Bookchin (U.S.A.)
* Jodi (Holland)
* 0100101110101101.ORG (Italia)
* Jaromil (Italy/Austria)
* I/O/D (U.K.)
* Heath Bunting (U.K.)
* Florian Cramer (Germany)
* Electronic Disturbance Theater (U.S.A.)
* Cornelia Sollfrank (Germany)
* Alexei Shulgin (Russia)
* Alexander R. Galloway (U.S.A.)
* Adrian Ward (U.K.)
* [epidemiC] (Italy)
* Amy Alexander (U.S.A.)
* Mongrel Project (U.K.)
* Eldar Karhalev & Ivan Khimin (Russia)
* etoy (U.S.A./Holland/Germany/Austria)
* Vuk Cosic (Slovenia)
Curated by Luca Lampo
Scientific Board - 0100101110101101.ORG, Marco Deseriis, Domenico Quaranta
Organization and production - Gabriele Micciche, Alessandro Mininno
Website - http://www.connessionileggendarie.it
E-mail - email@example.com
Images and texts (in italian) - http://www.connessionileggendarie.it/press
Catalogue - ready-made, Milan. http://www.ready-made.net
Chiara Costa - tel. +39.349.1981349
Saramicol Viscardi - tel. +39.328.7516332