patrick lichty
Since the beginning
Works in Chicago, Illinois United States of America

Patrick Lichty is a digital intermedia artist, writer, and independent curator of over 15 years whose work comments upon the impact of technology on society and how it shapes the perception of the world around us. He works in diverse technological media, including activism, printmaking, kinetics, video, generative music, and neon. He is Editor-in Chief of Intelligent Agent, an electronic arts/culture journal, part of the activist group The Yes Men, and operates IALA Gallery in Baton Rogue, Louisiana.
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The Rematerialization of Art

Please correct:
I understand the tradition of patronage as well as the struggle against bourgeois culture by the 20th Century Avant-Garde. After the collapse of Modernism, it really depends on what context and tradition you wish to address, and how you wish to frame yourself (as Nauman and Beuys created the artist as "ouevre" [body-of-work]).

In return -
1: Tell Cao Fei that, Jaume Plensa, Jenny Holzer, John Simon, Lincoln Schatz, Cory Arcangel, and many others.

2: New Media in the gallery isn't about putting a computer in a showroom - that's the infrastructure, not the experience. That's only one model of representation, and the most narrow one - the one that keeps New Media in the festivals.

3: The show is creating dialogue, which I think is healthy - and some rather hot debate; again quite healthy. But would Oliver Grau, Roy Ascott, Eduardo Kac, Oron Catts and Paul Vanouse think New Media is computational - I think they'd say it was also inclusive of Biotech, Friedman and Rozen probably of Robotics. Is Tactical Media, also New Media, more computational or social? This is the problem with only saying that "New Media" is about "computer-centric", which, while being a dominant form, isn't.

The dialogue seems more important than whether we are putting computers in galleries - this is what I mean by the difference between the Contemporary artist using New Media and the contemporary New Media artist. The latter expects the gallery to accommodate them, which they rarely even do for the traditional artist. The idea that New Media is somehow "entitled" to infrastructural support is a grave misconception to anyone working in the New Media genre to work in Contemporary circles.

That's just the technical end - on the Cultural end, we can stretch the discursive envelope, but we can't sit in a yurt in Mongolia, and expect the public to have to fly thousands of miles, trek by camel and jeep, and then not get it.

The point is, where it is reasonable to expect to present some challenge to the audience, curators, and gallery owners, it is also unreasonable to say that the gallery owner has to provide support beyond that of other artists, and that the public would not be provided with some elements of common cultural reference (i.e. ties to contemporary or art history) in order to "grok" what one is getting at. We're communicators - and if the message is not getting across (even if it's a "sublime" experience), we've failed.


New Media was a genre based on a community in the 90's.
In the 2000's, it became a series of practices understood as a group of media arts
It is currently being historicized as a movement.

(However, it is also a meme used within the communications industry, which is a problem. Don't confuse them, or as little as possible.)

As moderator for the panelin the Holy Fire exhibition at IMAL, I want to chime in for a moment with a partially invested opinion. However, Domenico asked me to be there because I am a true hybrid on the subject; I am a gallery artist, curator, and critic, who, given the body of work, also critically questions material culture and the nature of art as fetish/commodity. In fact, my graduate thesis dealt with a form of Platonic tension between the (im)material in art [but almost no one has seen this body of work]. In a way, I am both for and against this practice of collecting New Media, depending on context.

I understand the tradition of patronage as well as the struggle against bourgeois culture created by the 20th Century Avant-Garde. After the collapse of Modernism, it really depends on what context and tradition you wish to address, and how you wish to frame yourself (as Nauman and Beuys created the artist as "ouevre" [body-of-work]). The joy of the Postmodern, and as we go into the next period at the moment (name TBA), is that immaterial culture's association with the material (expand at will) is that the antagonism between the art market and the avant is diffused by allowing for localized discourse. Since the "ism" was destroyed, art atomized into very local threads of genre, into small groups, and even imploded to the individual.

There is no need to rebel against Modernism once it is turned into a field on the Venn diagram, and its role as master narrative is displaced. This is not to say that it has _gone away_, and the same for the art market after conceptualism. In fact, before the 2007 financial crises, a lot of artists working in the genre formerly called "New Media" (to paraphrase Dietz) have gone to the galleries. Is this so shocking?

Part of this comes from the emergence of New Media as a Contemporary Art Form after the shows Art Entertainment Network, net.condition, Whitney Biennial 2000, 010101: Art in Technological Times, Data Dynamics, The Art Formerly Known As New Media, and so on. This is the blessing and the bane of acceptance - the greater world tradition of Contemporary Art is at your disposal, but you also have to deal with that broader community and its terms and traditions, as well as your former community in the New Media world. Many of us who are older New Media artists are now Contemporary Artists, which is something that was nearly impossible a decade ago.

However, like Video Art, which is the cultural forebear of New Media, the coming of the festival and dedicated "media" community based on common interest, cultural specificity, formal/technical exploration is still needed. Therefore the New Media community certainly still exists, even if it is pulled at by commercial agendas (art programs catering to industrial/entertainment application), the art world (as New Media now has to compete with the global art community or stay within localized discourse). We have a New Media genre/community because there is a number of us who want to share, get together, and discuss what our work is doing in the world and what we're learning from it.

With artists like Murakami/Superflat, the 8-Bit crowd (Slocum, Beige, Paperrad Arcangel, et al) there is a NeoPop resurgence, which has elements of its predecessor; that is, surface, mass production, consumption. The arrival of niche fabrication has stepped up the ante on production by allowing microproduction of limited edition items. Contrary to merely reinscribing the old agendas of material culture, the new age of fabrication threatens to reconfigure it, by creating tons of editioned items that are (more or less) easily created. Therefore, I would challenge the cursory onlooker to say that we could be entering an era apprximating Stephenson's "Diamond Age" or a "Fluxus Materialism" of easily made material art. But I think that in the age of NeoPop that the reemergence of the object and the integration of production of media artists into material culture seems oddly logical, if not appropriate.

On the other hand, as in a recent talk in Amsterdam, the distinctions between cultures may be more centered in class. While the "ism" has been decentered, and conceptualism still abounds, and that Media Art is in increasing acceptance, the Art World, the markets, and its community of patronage is still firmly in place, even though additional protocological levels have been created to address new niches. The problem as I see it is that many Media artists either wish the art market would go away, lose its relevance/power, allow the artist to become hegemon, stop assigning cultural value to "poor" works, ascribe value by intellectual/cultural means rather than those of power and wealth, etc. etc. What I see is a discursive mismatching, in that much New Media does not account for/negotiate Contemporary social, cultural and institutional traditions, and vice versa. What I find fascinating from a purely phenomenological POV is that these effects are happening, whatever your stance.

And it isn't boring - what is happening is a fracturing/reconfiguration of the discourse of dematerialization of the object itself, begun with Duchamp himself, and chronicled by Lippard in her seminal book. Immaterial artists are returning to atoms, which is relatively avant- at the moment. I see this analogous to discussions by a number of scholars of my acquaintance regarding a "New Humanism" that acknowledges the real, throws out the Foucaultian 'body' in terms of the human being, while still accounting for individual plurality, thus not being a "Neo-Modernist" backlash.

Lastly, I want to mention something regarding the valuation of art in context of media - especially New Media. At a recent symposium on computer art at Northwestern University's Block Museum, I challenged the endless worrying about New Media's persistence in relation to its valuation. For example, there are many well-known artists whose work is certainly highly prized, but ephemeral - Oursler, Flavin, HIRST, and even many of the mid-20th century masters like Pollack have been falling apart. I wonder how well Ofili's elephant dung is rated for archival? This taken in context with the fact that most digital/New Media artists are held to wholly different standards (Will your print last for at least 200 years?), or the persistence of a work when compared to lesser standards by more "traditional" contemporary artists merely makes certain power and cultural relations visible.

I also realize that others may not share my views, but in many ways, I feel like saying that one thing this show asks is whether New Media has been accepted as Contemporary Art (i.e. become part of the gallery/museum world), whose practices have been accepted, how that fits into the current contemporary dialogue, and how does that relate to larger "mainstream" art historical traditions.



As a polemic statement, I will say - "Yes!".


SECOND FRONT'S Art Basel Miami Vice @ Miami

Press Release:

Second Front's

Art Basel Miami Vice

Dec. 6, 2007, 3:30 PM PST/SLT

In conjunction with

Gosia Koscielak Gallery @ Miami, NOW Art Fair
TELECULTURE: Dreams at the Epicenter @ Zones Art Fair

The Atlantic Basin Project, RCA Gallery., St. John's Newfoundland Canada


Press Contact:

Patrick Lichty, Second Front

Second Front Blog:

To commemorate the arrival of Second Life-based performance to the
shows surrounding Art Basel Miami, SL's first performance art
collective, Second front, are creating an event entitled "Art Basel
Miami Vice" This work is in conjunction with the TeleCultures
exhibition, curated by Jillian MacDonald and presented by Lee
Wells/PAM at Zones, Second Front works presented by Gosia Koscielak
Gallery, as well as live projections at the Atlantic Basin Project
and at The Project Room, Columbia College Chicago.


Recent successes have catapulted Second Front tot he heights of the
virtual art world. And, in coming to Art Basel Miami, SF has fallen
in with the proper scene of art-world decadence. Hovering limos,
pastel suits, .45 caliber pistols, seas of virtual coke and sexual
peccadillos with flocks of ostriches invade Miami nightlife. Will SF
fall in with virtual Colombian drug cartels? Will they even sell a
painting? And what about the Ostriches?

Art Basel Miami Vice is an expose of the Miami art world underground
nightlife with all its drama, danger, and wildlife.

Thanks to all of the sponsoring institutions for making the piece
possible, and check the Second Front Blog around Christmas for more


Re: RHIZOME_RAW: SL, Tools and Art

From my perspective, I think there are two things going on.
As far as Rhizome as social sculpture is concerned, it seems like the
question is still similar to whether HTML, Dreamweaver, APACHE & the Net
are art as opposed to Rikrit Tiravajia turning the gallery into a social

To me, the idea od networked social sculpture seems more relevant to its
tools as a framing device; technical, social, cultural. As Laurie
Anderson said, a frame for the picture; the mediator for the art. The
problem that I think we're getting at is that it, as with so many things
after Duchamp and then Conceptualism, FLUXUS, and others is rendered

I think this is a big point that SL - based art asks.

Patrick Lichty
- Interactive Arts & Media
Columbia College, Chicago
- Editor-In-Chief
Intelligent Agent Magazine
225 288 5813

FAX 312 344-8021

"It is better to die on your feet
than to live on your knees."

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf
Of Jim Andrews
Sent: Tuesday, October 16, 2007 12:22 AM
Subject: RE: RHIZOME_RAW: SL, Tools and Art

> something like Word, there's no one claiming it's a work of art. it's
> tool. why? because it doesn't do too much toward shaping the user's
> creation toward its own unique ends, and it supplies hardly any of the
> content.
> ...
> is there any work of art in sl more impressive than sl itself? sl as a
> piece of net art?
> ****
> IMO, that's like saying asking what the difference between Word
> and Finnegan's Wake is. That's the difference between a pencil and a
> love letter. Cadmium Red canvas and brush, and Fragonard's Swing, a
> clarinet and Rhapsody in Blue.
> I took the bait, knowing this was a rhetorical question.

The difference between old tools/instruments and art is quite a bit
than it is in many net art works, of course.

Net art has changed in many ways over the last few years. One of the
ways is
that the art of the net app is now 'entertained' at the corporate level;
apps such as SL not only create a tool for others to create virtual
in which people communicate, but the corporation creates much of the art
itself of that world--and many of the communications to the inhabitants
are from the corporation.

The idea of SL as a net art work is of course also related to Mark
claim of Rhizome as social sculpture. It will be resented by those
the world but, seen from the outside...

Concerning art, I suppose one of the questions is 'Who profits from it?'
The corporation, mainly, or the artists? Also, which shines brightest?
artists' art, or the 'social sculpture'?

Also, can the virtual world actually support art created at or above the
level of the virtual world itself (or the 'social sculpture') created by

The answers to these questions are rather complex, it seems to me.


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