Jim Andrews
Since the beginning
Works in Victoria Canada

Jim Andrews does http://vispo.com . He is a poet-programmer and audio guy. His work explores the new media possibilities of poetry, and seeks to synthesize the poetical with other arts and media.
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Re: RHIZOME_RAW: Networkism and Heroism

> Would "better art" be OK? That would also imply a criteria and
> hierarchical
> gradation. I do believe in better and worse however so I wouldn't
> completely level and equate all aesthetic activity.

Do you think "better art" today is better than "better art" from 300 BCE? Is
"better art" today better than the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and
Euripides? I don't think so.

We may need to do some learning to appreciate and understand the art of the
past, but when we do, its relevance to our own time and situations begins to
emerge, as do matters of form and style.

Art changes, over time, but it does not get cumulatively better, over time.

However, this doesn't mean it's always meaningless to say one artwork is
better than another.

Usually it *is* meangingless, unless the ways in which it's better are

Intelligent and useful criticism of art is typically less intent on simply
grading art than understanding it and the worlds to which it refers.

The new and improved is sales talk. A culture of salespeople. A culture of
hucksters. A culture of game players. A culture trained in moronics. A
culture of soldiers. A culture of killers. Shitheads in the wilderness.
Language and criticism as weapons, not toward understanding.



Re: RHIZOME_RAW: Networkism and Heroism

> Networkism is not primarily descriptive of what people are doing on the
> internet and other computer networks. It is more
> prescriptive--how to make
> the best art to protect and foster aesthetic evolution under network
> conditions past, presen. Network conditions would certainly
> exist without
> the internet and existed even back in the time of sailing ships,
> railroads,
> TV, VCRs, regular rotary dial phones, street markets, and so forth.
> Thus, in my understanding Networkism would still be the current
> art-historical period even if there were no computers or internet.
> Modernism and Postmodernism could still have occurred and lost usefulness
> (run their course, reached a point of diminishing returns) for aesthetic
> evolution even if the internet were not up yet. Internetism could be
> thought of as one form of Low Networkism.
> As to computers thinking like humans, or the two being
> cognitively the same
> or similar, I suppose that would be just as much a valid theme under
> Networkism as it would under Postmodernism or N-state or what have you.

Getting a computer to think like a human is probably less interesting than
getting a computer to think like a computer. They don't have the same sort
of bodies we do, the same sort of senses, the same sort of instincts, and so
on. Should they come to think in a convincing way, they'll think like a
different species might think. According to their phenomenology, their
strengths and weaknesses, needs and strengths, weaknesses and properties.
Yet, like us, they will be sentient beings. Some of the things we think and
think about are thoughts and issues better described as those of sentient
beings than specifically of humans. Other things we think and think about
are specifically human. And they're all mixed up together. So it would be,
also, concerning the thoughts of computers.

To think is partly a human thing, partly a thing that's independent of being
specifically human. For instance, all sentient beings face much the same
moral issues. And even when they don't, they can appreciate the issues faced
by others, if they work at it.

The point isn't that computers can think like we do. Maybe they can, maybe
they can't. But they surely can be made to think in some way. And this
changes our ideas of who and what we are. Changes our thoughts about
thinking. Media as inner dialog externalized between people. Media as the
flow of thinking inside the head. Media as thought process. Expands our
notions of language and code. Thinking and experiencing as networked
processes that happen within and without. As processes distributed
throughout the rhizome.

On a different note, there is no 'best art'. There are too many criteria at
play. Perhaps for criteria x there is a 'best', as long as it can be
isolated from all the rest. But judgements about art involve very many
criteria simultaneously, and it is folly to think that an absolute 'best'
makes any sense in such a situation just as it is folly to think that there
is a largest point in a planar area. There can be a largest point in a
segment of a number line, but not in a plane.



Re: RHIZOME_RAW: Networkism and Heroism

i note yet another level of spam in my inbox, having recently registered on
facebook at the request of a (real) friend. so far i'm not particularly
impressed with facebook. perhaps i'm missing something?

the enthusiasm of venture capitalists concerning investment in 'social
software' is, of course, due to the potential to make money. but isn't the
business plan to data-mine the bejesus out of the user's data and
backchannel them yet more spam email. whatever it is, i almost certainly
don't want it. can one say 'don't send me any backchannel spam, please,
facebook' ? somehow that doesn't seem like an option.

as an alternative to lists, so far, to me, facebook is not real good.

not to say that we don't need good alternatives to lists.


ps: much as i'm a fan of the internet, as brett pointed out, the term
'networkism' seems too limited to describe the phenomenon. 'computational
media' is not even broad enough, because it's not so much a matter of
digital media as computation. there is no proof, and probably never will be,
that there exist thought processes of which humans are capable and computers
are not. the significance of this is beyond a matter of media. computers are
not simply universal media machines.



A site of Argentinean netactivism: http://iconoclasistas.com.ar



survival imperative

having met some of the people involved in rhizome and observed it over the
years and participated a little bit, i have respect for it and the people
involved in it.

the way that it's moved from active engagement with and championing of
international web art to more emphasis on the gallery/installation forms of
digital art, particularly of a type local to new york, is not so much
dastardly to me as it is indicative of changes they've felt they've had to
make to survive.

who funds international web art? well, rhizome does, sort of, i suppose. as
does turbulence.org, another important new york organization. and a few
others around the globe, but the international is harder to fund and realize
within a local context, and everybody is in a local context, however much
they are citizens of the world. erm, think globally; write grants locally
(or something like that).

and, of course, new york has a 'local' scene that is amazing in its scope
and also international reach.

i imagine that surviving in new york art is a challenge and one that does
demand a certain attention to the infrastructure of art as commodity. if
there's no money in it, it ain't going to live in new york for long. true?
you tell me.

i just spent a week in the company of an argentine intellectual and scholar.
she wrote a book on grafitti in buenos aires, and is now studying digital
poetry. she came to digital poetry via her interests in mail art, visual
poetry, and grafitti--in general, she studies 'literature' that involves
other media additional to or other than the usual literary media. but all of
these--mail art, visual poetry, grafiti, and digital poetry--are not very
well-commodified. i wonder how many new york literary scholars are studying
mail art, visual poetry, grafiti, or digital poetry?

so, although for her, and for many others around the world, including me,
the involvement of an art in an infrastructure of commodification is not at
all important to the relevance and life of the art, we can see comments on
rhizome to the effect that things like mail art are dead because they never
'made it' into the galleries, much. and of course the same is more or less
true of net art--with the exception, of course, of the early heroes who were
angling in that direction all along.

so that net art is bound to lose its cache in places where art *must*
achieve commodification to survive. and it will be "dead" in those places,
or to people who live in environments where the pressure is intense for arts
to be bought and sold in order for art projects to even be

so it seems to me the movement in emphasis on rhizome from net art to other
forms of media art is not so much an aesthetic choice as an imperative of

or am i all wet?