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.
The rise of amateur culture
Group exhibition and side programme
Curator: Valentina Tanni
Stari trg 21, Ljubljana 2 – 26 September 2014
Opening hours: TUE-SUN 12 pm – 8 pm
Opening programme on Tuesday, 2 September 2014:
6 pm at Aksioma Project Space (Komenskega 18, Ljubljana)
Screening and artist's presentation, Matthias Fritsch: The Story of Technoviking
8 pm at Škuc Gallery
Exhibition opening and curator-guided tour
Eternal September is a group exhibition that aims to explore the relationship between professional art making and the rising tide of amateur cultural movements throughout the Web, a historical event that has triggered a huge, fascinating shift in every field of culture, especially the visual one. The exhibition includes works by 15 authors and artistic groups (professionals and amateurs alike) and a series of special projects and accompanying events that will take place both offline and online.
Featuring: Anonymous (The Game Pro), Tymek Borowski & Pawel Sysiak, Mauro Ceolin, Paolo Cirio, Paul Destieu, Electroboutique, Matthias Fritsch, Colin Guillemet, David Horvitz, Maskull Lasserre, Aled Lewis, Dennis Logan (Spatula007), Valeria Mancinelli & Roberto Fassone, Mark McEvoy, Casey Pugh et al., Steve Roggenbuck, Smetnjak Collective, Helmut Smits, Phil Thompson, Wendy Vainity (madcatlady) (*)
- Screening, Casey Pugh et al.: Star Wars Uncut, 20 – 29 August 2014 (venue: Aksioma Project Space)
- Street project, Paolo Cirio: Street Ghosts, 30 – 31 August 2014
- Online project, Valeria Mancinelli, Roberto Fassone: The Importance of Being Context, 2 – 26 September 2014 (www.linkcabinet.eu)
- Online project, Various Authors (edited by Valentina Tanni): The Great Wall of Memes (http://eternal-september.tumblr.com)
- Talk, Smetnjak Collective: We started a meme, which started the whole world crying, 9 September 2014 at 6 pm (venue: Škuc Gallery)
- Exhibiton tour guided by Vladimir Vidmar, 17 September 2014 at 6 pm (venue: Škuc Gallery)
“Eternal September” is a slang expression that was coined by David Fischer in a comment sent to the Usenet group alt.folklore.computers in 1994 (“September 1993 will go down in net.history as the September that never ended.”). The sentence refers to September 1993, the year in which the major providers began offering access to all their
customers. Up to that time, the network population was composed mostly of university members, a group that would get a little bit bigger every year in September when a number of freshmen would enter college and have their first net access. Every time a fresh influx of “newbies” joined a network, its community had to confront their “net illiteracy” and general lack of netiquette; their behaviour was, in fact, considered annoying and potentially dangerous for the quality of content and discussion.
After 1993, this influx of new users became permanent, and this “Eternal September” is still happening today at exponential speed. Internet access, which is now global, is constantly growing, despite the well-known “digital divide” issues. This phenomenon, which transformed from a tidal wave into an unstoppable tsunami, gave birth
to an enormous cultural shift.
This “access” topic needs to be addressed in a very broad sense: the opportunity to access information, as well as that to use production tools and distribution channels. Every system previously used to managing and controlling cultural production is now experiencing a deep crisis, which is also causing the inevitable collapse of all the related business models.
The ultimate consequence of this scenario is also the most radical one: the questioning of “professionalism”, an event that has been foreseen by many observers ever since the 1970s. Gene Youngblood, for instance, wrote about it in the 1982 Siggraph catalogue: “A tool is ‘mature’ insofar as it’s easy to use, accessible to everyone, offering high quality at low cost and characterized by a pluralistic rather than singular practice, serving a multitude of values. Professionalism is an archaic model that’s fading in the twilight of the Industrial Age.”
The Eternal September exhibition also aims at highlighting another fundamental feature of the emerging cultural scenario: the speed that characterizes the production and distribution of creative content.
This hectic and unstoppable circulation of ideas and digital artifacts has led many critics and journalists to use words and adjectives borrowed from biology jargon: viral contents, mind viruses, contagious media. Some also refer to a controversial scientific theory that was born in the 1970s in the context of the genetic research boom: the so-called “memetics”. This theory postulates the existence of “memes”, units of human cultural transmission analogous to genes, arguing that replication also happens in culture. In a fast and liquid environment such as the Internet, in which any content – images, sounds, texts – can be edited in real-time and fed back into the communication circuit, the metamorphic nature of any cultural product rises exponentially.
In an era like the present one, in which image production is so advanced and refined that it can be easily considered scientific matter, the amateur “look and feel” of many contemporary cultural products also seems to function as proof of authenticity, passion and enthusiasm. This attitude reminds us of what happened in the early
twentieth century, when the simplicity and spontaneity of archaic and exotic artifacts was seen as an antidote to the weariness of Western culture, considered decadent and artificial. Today, the new “primitivism” coincides with the “amateur”.
This exhibition comprises a mix of artworks by professional artists and “non-professional” ones, comparing images, aesthetics and languages. A great number of contemporary artists, in fact, actively and fearlessly confront this new scenario in which the boundaries between professional art making and amateur products are increasingly
blurred and intertwined. The project also aims to show how some of the aesthetic and stylistic strategies normally associated with cutting-edge contemporary art have been assimilated by popular culture that is born and happens online.
Our definition of art is once again changing radically, challenging both artists and viewers, two categories that are getting more and more unstable and interconnected. Eternal September is an attempt to acknowledge the revolution that is subverting today’s visual culture, a colorful and messy catastrophe that is rapidly wiping away all our landmarks in the artscape. This show does not offer any new certainty, though. Instead, it’s an invitation to dive in together, and start figuring things out.
On the occasion of the exhibition, Link Editions (the editorial branch of the Link Art Center, Brescia) and Aksioma will co-publish a catalogue of the show, featuring all the participating artists and projects, along with contributions by Valentina Tanni, Smetnjak Collective and Domenico Quaranta. Designed by Fabio Paris and edited by Domenico Quaranta, the catalogue will be available for print on demand and free download along the exhibition, which will be visually documented in the book. More: http://editions.linkartcenter.eu
ABOUT THE CURATOR
Valentina Tanni (1976, Rome, Italy) is a contemporary art critic and curator. Her research is focused on the relationship between art and new media, with particular attention to Internet culture. In 2002, she graduated in Art History from La Sapienza University in Rome with a master’s thesis on net art (Net Art.1994–2001), and in the following years she published a great number of articles, reviews and essays about new media art, web culture and contemporary art in general. She is the founder of Random Magazine, one of the first web columns entirely dedicated to net art (that also gave birth to a book in 2011, Random, Link Editions), and she is the co-founder of Exibart and Artribune, two important Italian art magazines. She also directed the online version of the magazine FMR (FMR Online).
She curated the Net section of the art show Media Connection (Rome and Milan, 2001), the exhibitions Netizens (Rome, 2002), L’oading. Genetically Modified Videogames (Syracuse, 2003), Maps and Legends. When Photography Met the Web (Rome, 2010), Datascapes (Rome, 2011), Hit the Crowd. Photography in the Age of Crowdsourcing (Rome, 2012), Nothing to See Here (Milan, 2013) and numerous solo shows. She also collaborates with many digital arts festivals and she’s been one of the guest curators of FotoGrafia. International Photography Festival in Rome from 2010 to 2012. She has written articles for Italian and international magazines and she works as a teacher and lecturer for universities and private institutions. www.valentinatanni.com
Production: Aksioma - Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2014
Coproduction: Škuc Gallery, Ljubljana / www.galerija.skuc-drustvo.si
Partner: LINK Center for the Arts of the Information Age, Brescia /
Curator: Valentina Tanni
Artistic directors: Janez Janša (Aksioma Institute), Vladimir Vidmar
Advisor: Domenico Quaranta
Producers: Marcela Okretič, Joško Pajer
Executive producer: Sonja Grdina
Assistant: Boris Beja
Technicians: Atila Boštjančič, Valter Udovičić
Public relations: Mojca Zupanič
Documentation: Adriana Aleksić
Eternal September is realized in the framework of Masters & Servers, a joint project by Aksioma (SI), Drugo more (HR), AND (UK), Link Art Center (IT) and d-i-n-a / The Influencers (ES).
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Supported by: Creative Europe Culture, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, the Municipality of Ljubljana, Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Slovenia and Institut français de Slovénie
Thanks to: Ultrasonic audio technologies
* DISCLAIMER: Every effort has been made by the galleries and the curator to get in contact with all the authors of the works in the show. Nonetheless, due to the particular nature of the project, in some cases, we have not been able to trace the source, or we attempted to get in touch but got no response. We invite everyone who recognizes his/her work and wants to be credited, to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The nature of the project is non-commercial and the works in the show are not for sale.
Marcela Okretič, 041 250 830, email@example.com
Aksioma | Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana
Neubergerjeva 25, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Beyond New Media Art
Kino Šiška Center For Urban Culture
Trg prekomorskih brigad 3, Ljubljana
22 – 23 April 2014
What is New Media Art? What does this term really describe? What has occasioned the schism between this term and the art scene it is supposed to describe? And lastly, what can explain the limited presence of this artistic practice – which appears to have all the credentials for representing an era in which digital media are powerfully reshaping the political, economic, social and cultural organisation of the world we live in – in critical debates? All these and many other questions are tackled by Italian art critic Domenico Quaranta in his new book Beyond New Media Art (Link Editions, 2013).
Beyond New Media Art is, on the one hand, an attempt to analyse the current positioning of the so-called New Media Art within the broader field of contemporary arts and to investigate the historical, sociological and conceptual reasons for its marginal position and limited visibility in contemporary art history. On the other hand, the book is also an attempt to introduce new critical and curatorial strategies, which would render this marginalisation a thing of the past, and to elucidate the topicality of art that deals with media and the issues of the information age.
Domenico Quaranta will introduce the book at the press conference for journalists and experts and at a two-day free seminar, intended primarily for students and artists, but open to general audiences.
On this occasion, the Aksioma issued a Slovenian translation of the book, which is available through an online platform for print on demand and as a free e-book (epub and pdf): http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?type=&keyWords=onkraj+novomedijske+umetnosti&x=6&y=6&sitesearch=lulu.com&q=
The English version of the book is available at the following links:
Print on demand: http://www.lulu.com/shop/domenico-quaranta/beyond-new-media-art/paperback/product-21028929.html
To apply for the seminar please send your full name, e-mail address and telephone number to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The seminar will be held in English.
In the next days, some quotes from the book will be made available on the "Beyond New Media Art" blog, open to discussion for both the participants in the seminar and a broader international audience. Check it out at blog http://medianewmediapostmedia.wordpress.com/
Supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana.
The complete list of participants includes: Alterazioni Video, Anthony Antonellis, Aram Bartholl, Erik Berglin, Enrico Boccioletti, Heath Bunting, Marco Cadioli, Martin John Callanan, Gregory Chatonsky, Adam Cruces, Caroline Delieutraz, Harm Van Den Dorpel, Constant Dullaart, Electroboutique, Herbert W. Franke, Elisa Giardina Papa, Matteo Giordano, Emilio Gomariz, IOCOSE, Janez Janša, Janez Janša, Janez Janša, JODI, Joan Leandre, Jan Robert Leegte, Jonas Lund, Eva and Franco Mattes, Rosa Menkman, Filippo Minelli, Vera Molnar, Jaakko Pallasvuo, Angelo Plessas, Evan Roth, Alexei Shulgin, Carlo Zanni.
All the featured artists are either based or born in Europe. The selection includes different generations of artists working with the digital medium and within the digital environment, from early pioneers such as Vera Molnar and Herbert W. Franke, to net.art classics such as JODI and Alexei Shulgin, to younger artists still in their twenties. The selected works display a wide range of formats, and respond in different ways – sometimes traditionally, sometimes more radically – to the issue of collecting the digital: prints, installations, drawings and videos are joined by animated gifs, websites, printable 3D files and 3D printed sculptures. Some of them display generative images, some others deal with desktop aesthetics; some refer to online habits, cultures and places, others are strictly related to the living and working conditions introduced by the digital shift. They all inhabit networked spaces; they are Born Digital.
Starting prices vary from the very affordable (around 100 EURO for a ViBo – Video Book by Carlo Zanni or a Certificate of Existence by Martin John Callanan) to the higher prices reached by outstanding installations like Jan Robert Leegte’s Scrollbar Composition 2005/2011. If an artwork is sold, 20% of the final price will be used to support the upcoming activities of the Link Art Center.
The LINK Center for the Arts of the Information Age (Link Art Center) is a multi-functional center promoting artistic research with new technologies and critical reflections on the core issues of the information age. Founded in Brescia, Italy, in 2011, the Link Art Center is active locally, internationally and online: it organizes exhibitions, produces artistic and curatorial projects, publishes books. To check out past activities, visit our website: www.linkartcenter.eu. The funds raised will be used to support our ongoing activities: Link Editions, our publishing initiative; Link Point, our project space; and Link Cabinet, our upcoming online gallery.
Paddle8 is an online auction house, connecting buyers and sellers of fine art and collectibles across the Internet. Paddle8 presents two types of auctions: curated auctions of art and collectibles under $100,000, and benefit auctions in collaboration with non-profits. Since its founding in 2011, Paddle8 has collaborated with over 200 non- profit organizations worldwide to present their benefit auctions online, dramatically expanding the audience of supporters and fundraising results for each non-profit partner. More info: http://paddle8.com
The Link Art Center would like to thank all the artists, XPO Gallery (Paris), 22,48m2 (Paris) and DAM Gallery (Berlin) for their amazing support in this initiative.
In more than five years of activity, the Free Art and Technology Lab (F.A.T. Lab) produced an impressive series of projects, all developed with open source software, shared online and documented in a way that allows everybody to copy, improve, abuse or simply use them. This approach situates F.A.T. Lab in a long tradition of DIY, processual, sharable artistic practices based on instructionals, and reveals a democratic idea of art where Fluxus scores meet hacker culture (and rap music).
Featuring texts by Régine Debatty, Evan Roth, Domenico Quaranta, Geraldine Juárez and Randy Sarafan, The F.A.T. Manual is a selection of more that 100 projects, done in the belief that printing these bits on paper will allow them to spread in a different way, infiltrate other contexts, and germinate. An archive, a catalogue, a user manual and a software handbook documenting five years of thug life, pop culture and research and development.
F.A.T. Lab (www.fffff.at) is an organization dedicated to enriching the public domain through the research and development of creative technologies and media. F.A.T. Lab’s greater network of artists, engineers, scientists, lawyers, and musicians are committed to supporting open values and the public domain through the use of emerging open licenses, support for open entrepreneurship, and the admonishment of secrecy, copyright monopolies, and patents. F.A.T. Lab was co-founded in 2007 by Eyebeam senior fellows Evan Roth and James Powderly. Over the past five years, the group has grown to include twenty-five artists, designers and hacker from 3 continents.
Link Editions (http://editions.linkartcenter.eu) is a publishing initiative of the Link Center for the Arts of the Information Age. Link Editions uses print on demand and digital formats to create an accessible, dynamic series of essays and pamphlets, but also artist books, catalogues and conference proceedings. A keen advocate of the idea that information wants to be free, Link Editions releases its contents free of charge in .pdf format, and on paper at a price accessible to all. Link Editions is a not-for-profit initiative and all its contents are circulated under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) license.
MU will host the official, international book launch at the opening of “F.A.T. GOLD Europe” on Friday November 15, with a presentation by the editors.
Geraldine Juárez, Domenico Quaranta (Eds.), The F.A.T. Manual, Link Editions, Brescia 2013. English, soft cover, color, 224 pp. ISBN 9781291577914
Designed by: Fabio Paris
Published by: Link Editions, Brescia 2013
Co-produced by: F.A.T. Lab, MU
On the occasion of the exhibition: “F.A.T. GOLD Europe”, MU, Eindhoven, November 15, 2013 – January 26, 2014
With generous support from: Baltan Laboratories, Eindhoven Municipality, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and Creative Industries Fund NL, Rotterdam
Made in collaboration with: XPO Gallery, Paris
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.