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.
thanks for your comment! Let me start saying that, if compared with the amount of research required by the books I discussed, my texts is nothing more that a modest footnote to each of them. You probably know better than me how difficult it is to sum up such a complicated issue in such a small space, and this is why I willingly adopted an affirmative, manifesto-style approach. I agree that we are on the same boat, but I also know that, when one speaks, sometimes it all depends on where she puts the stress. And when you start a book with a sentence like this, in my opinion, you put the stress on the wrong thing, in a way that can't but give birth to a series of misunderstandings:
“[...] in this book, what is meant by the term new media art is, broadly, art that is made using electronic media technology and that displays any or all of the three behaviours of interactivity, connectivity and computability, in any combination.”
I'm just trying to move the stress onward on the "art" part of the "new media art" label. I'm sure that the same issues has been touched many times in the debate around new media curating, but it always happened under the same premise: that new media art is technology-based and that presentations that avoid technology are the result of an act of mediation (a word often replaced with pejorative versions of it). The very fact that the word "art" doesn't appear that often ("Curating New Media" [the book], "New Media Curating" [the mailing list], "New Media in the White Cube and Beyond", "Art after New Media") changes the perception of anything you can say under these headlines.
My feeling is that, if you change the premise, you can later discuss how to bring interactive, computable, online works in the exhibition space in the few cases it is really required. But if you don't, "new media curating" will always be a Sisyphean labor and a pointless effort that doesn't actually help, and maybe damages, the art it wants to support.
An Online Curatorial Project
Share Your Sorrow is an online curatorial project launched by Domenico Quaranta in September 2012, and focused on strategies of social preservation of net based, digital art. The project deals with the work of Kevin Bewersdorf, an artist that, after being very active online between 2007 and 2009, retired and deleted from the internet any content he published in previous years. Everybody who got in touch with his work and collected it is invited to dig into his / her personal archives and contribute. Because the museum of the future may be your hard drive.
Art preservation is normally associated with museums, archives and collections, that is with authority and power - be it institutional, cultural or economic. It has not always been like this. Museums and archives emerged in modern times, and art collecting as an elitist practice started in the Renaissance. Along history, art has been saved by graveyards, natural catastrophes, copies, reuse and abuse, chance, monks, and ordinary people.
In the digital age, artists started making art with digital means and circulating it online, and computer users started saving and archiving it, as they do with any other kind of cultural content. Of course, the art world started applying its rules and conventions to digital art as well, pretending that some files are poor copies and others are original, and talking about editions, resolution, certificates of authenticity and so on. The file you downloaded is not the same file Mr. Saatchi bought. That's fine. But what if your file survives, and Mr Saatchi's one gets lost? What if the artist pretends that the original artwork is the one he put on the net?
Kevin Bewersdorf wrote in 2007: "I would drop [my laptop] off a cliff without hesitation... The seeds of my data are already safely spread across the web, and this data is what concerns me." Then, at some point, he removed everything from the Web, but the seeds of his data survived. They survived in the work of other artists that responded to them. They survived on other websites that reblogged them. And they survive in the disk space of many anonymous users who saved them, and that keep them jealously or just forgot about them. These are the true collectors of Kevin Bewersdorf's work: a work that was available to anybody, and that's now subject to the condition of scarcity that is the premise to any act of collecting.
Share Your Sorrow invites them to share the seeds of Kevin's data again; to allow them to circulate online again, to be downloaded, manipulated and remixed by other users, to keep being part of the cultural dialogue, that is the best way for art to survive.
- go to http://shareyoursorrow.tumblr.com/submit and submit your content, or
- upload it on Tumblr and tag it "share your sorrow", or
- just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. And,
- please try to provide as many contextual elements as possible (name, date, original location, etc.)
More info: http://shareyoursorrow.linkartcenter.eu/.
Domenico Quaranta (1978, Brescia, Italy) is an art critic and curator. He is a regular contributor to Flash Art and Artpulse. He is the editor (with M. Bittanti) of the book GameScenes: Art in the Age of Videogames (2006) and the author of Media, New Media, Postmedia (2010) and In Your Computer (2011). He has curated various exhibitions, including Holy Fire: Art of the Digital Age (Bruxelles 2008, with Y. Bernard), Playlist (Gijon 2009 and Bruxelles 2010) and Collect the WWWorld (Brescia 2011 and Basel 2012). He is a co-founder and Artistic Director of the Link Center for the Arts of the Information Age. http://domenicoquaranta.com
On September 29, 2012, the Link Center for the Arts of the Information Age will launch its brand new project space, the Link Point. The Link Point is the Link Art Center's multi-functional space: a small white cube that will work as “base” for an institution that is, and will go on to be, nomadic, and that will serve, from time to time, as a project room, a workshop room, a meeting point and a window on Link Art Center's traveling projects. The new space – located in Brescia, Via Alessandro Monti 13, takes the place formerly occupied by the Fabio Paris Art Gallery, recently restored to better serve its new mission.
More info: http://www.linkartcenter.eu/link_point
“Adam Cruces: Refresh” at Link Point
Adam Cruces: Refresh is the Link Point opening event: a one-night exhibition that will take place on September 29, 2012. Refresh is an attempt to re-contextualize the artist's recent digital work in a physical space. Born in Huston, Texas, in 1985, Adam Cruces lives and works in Zürich, Switzerland, where he is currently attending the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste. His work makes a consistent use of vernacular material appropriated from the web, and of concepts, images, aesthetics and practices that, introduced by the most common and popular interfaces, ended up populating our imaginary, and our subconscious.
More info: http://www.linkartcenter.eu/link_point
“Don't Watch If You Dislike” at Link Point
On October 13, 2012, from 6.30 to 12.00 PM, the Link Point will open again to present the video screening Don't Watch If You Dislike, curated by Valentina Tanni: a focus on the explosion of amateur creativity online. On show there will be a series of videos made by un-professional creators adopting, more or less consciously, forms and codes of contemporary art. The curator will be present.
More info: http://www.linkartcenter.eu/link_point
Link Dead Drop at Link Point
Installed next to the Link Point exit door, the Link Dead Drop is a contribution to the ongoing project launched in October 2010 by German artist Aram Bartholl, and rapidly turned into a worldwide phenomenon, with about one thousand dead drops installed all around the world. A dead drop is a USB flash drive embedded into a wall, that becomes part of an “anonymous, offline, peer to peer file-sharing network in public space.” The Link Dead Drop will be used by us to share with you Link Editions' e-books, works by featured artists, and site specific exhibitions, but can also be used by you to share whatever you want with us, and with everybody else. So: when you come to the Link Point, come with a USB enabled device.
More info: http://www.linkartcenter.eu/link_point
Link Editions: new releases
Link Editions is the Link Art Center publishing branch, that releases its books in print on demand and as e-books available for free download. In September 2012, Link Editions released two new titles: Everything I Shoot Is Art, a collection of essays and interviews by Swedish art critic and researcher Mathias Jansson and focused on the various possible connection lines that can be drawn between what we usually call “games” and what we usually call “art”, in the constant effort to help finding a broader, more comprehensive definition for the latter; and Spirit Surfing, an attempt to collect, preserve and share a body of texts and visual essays written by artist, actor and musician Kevin Bewersdorf, one of the leading figures of the so-called “pro-surfers” generation.
On the occasion of the presentation of the show Collect the WWWorld at 319 Scholes in New York in October, Link Editions will proudly release Ryan Trecartin's Ryan's Web 1.0. A Lossless Fall, available only as a freely downloadable pdf.
More info: http://www.linkartcenter.eu/editions
“Collect the WWWorld” at 319 Scholes, New York
After its presentation in Brescia, Italy and Basel, Switzerland, the exhibition Collect the WWWorld. The Artist as Archivist in the Internet Age flies to New York, to be shown at 319 Scholes from October 18 to November 4, 2012 (opening Thursday October 18, 7:00 p.m). In a completely new setup, the exhibition will feature works previously included as well as new works by the following artists: Alterazioni Video (I), Kari Altmann (US), Gazira Babeli (I), Kevin Bewersdorf (US), Aleksandra Domanovic (D), Constant Dullaart (NL), Elisa Giardina Papa (I), Travis Hallenbeck (US), Jason Huff (US), Jodi (NL), Olia Lialina & Dragan Espenschied (D), Eva and Franco Mattes (I), Oliver Laric (D) Jon Rafman (US), Evan Roth (US), Ryan Trecartin (US), Brad Troemel (US), Penelope Umbrico (US), Clement Valla (US).
More info: http://www.linkartcenter.eu/events/collect-the-wwworld
Share Your Sorrow: an online curatorial project
Share Your Sorrow (http://shareyoursorrow.linkartcenter.eu) is an online curatorial project by our Artistic Director Domenico Quaranta, and focused on strategies of social preservation of net based, digital art. The project deals with the work of Kevin Bewersdorf, an artist that, after being very active online between 2007 and 2009, retired and deleted from the internet any content he published in previous years. Everybody who got in touch with his work is invited to dig into his / her personal archives and contribute. Because the museum of the future may be your hard drive.
More info: http://www.linkartcenter.eu/production
The MINI Museum: updates
The MINI Museum is a museum consisting only of a digital frame and an USB flash drive, inspired by Hans Ulrich Obrist's Nanomuseum, and traveling from node to node into a network of artists who contribute with a site-specific project. Launched in 2010, the MINI Museum hosted 8 projects so far, traveling from UK to Germany to the Netherlands. Since September 2012, the Mini Museum has a new home online. Check it out: http://minimuseum.linkartcenter.eu/
More info: http://www.linkartcenter.eu/production
One's computer is a repository of valuable things that, for some reason, never went public: projects, drafts, short notes, private emails, unreleased interviews, unpublished texts, tales, poems, lists of quotes, image collections, spam email collections, whatever.
If you think this content may be relevant or interesting also for a wider audience; if you think it may work well in book form, circulated digitally or printed on paper; the book series “In My Computer” may be the right jar for your jam.
“In My Computer” is a series of books collecting unpublished material available in your computer, produced by LINK Editions and circulated both in digital and printed form through the print-on-demand (POD) service Lulu.com. The book can take any shape compatible with POD's production and distribution standards. In My Computer # 1 | Miltos Manetas has been published in 2011, and is available for buying and free download here: http://www.linkartcenter.eu/editions/in-my-computer-1?lang=en.
LINK Editions is a publishing initiative of the LINK Center for the Arts of the Information Age. LINK Editions uses the print on demand approach to create an accessible, dynamic series of essays and pamphlets, but also tutorials, study notes and conference proceedings connected to its educational activities. 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) licence. More info: http://www.linkartcenter.eu/.
HOW. You can apply by sending to the email address email@example.com a short concept / description of your book proposal, together with a short bio and a sample of what you want to do. Language of the application: English.
WHEN. The deadline for the submission is September 15, 2012. After the deadline, a jury will select the proposals that will be published in 2012 – 2013.
WHO. Your submission will be evaluated by an international jury including:
Andreas Broeckmann, art historian, curator, Director of the new Leuphana Arts Program at Leuphana Universität Lüneburg and former director of Transmediale, Berlin.
Ben Fino-Radin, artist and Digital Conservator, Rhizome at the New Museum, New York.
Domenico Quaranta, art critic, curator and Artistic Director of the Link Center of the Arts of the Information Age.
In December 2008, Patrick Cariou filed suit for copyright infringement against Prince, Larry Gagosian, Gagosian Gallery, and Rizzoli books after a number of photographs from Cariou’s publication Yes, Rasta (2000) were reappropriated without consent in Prince’s Canal Zone series. In March, 2011, Manhattan federal court judge Deborah Batts ruled against Richard Prince and the Gagosian Gallery, demanding that all works and materials relating to Prince’s Canal Zone be delivered up for impounding, destruction, or other disposition.
“After Prince” and "After Cariou" are projects of the students of the “Net Art” class at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan. Anybody can contribute. The projects have an educational value, with a focus on collage, appropriation and remix as grounding languages of contemporary art, collaborative platforms, open cultures and animated gif as a native online language.
Every content of these websites is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License - http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/.
- Google “Richard Prince” / "Patrick Cariou" or just visit the artists' website;
- Choose an image and download it;
- Make your animated gif;
- Visit http://afterprince.tumblr.com/ or http://aftercariou.tumblr.com/, click on "submit" and upload your image (or just upload the image on your Tumblr with the tag "after prince" or "after cariou").