Monday, July 24, 2006

Investigating Network Art

A few months ago, the book Network Art: Practices and Positions (edited by Tom Corby) was published by Routledge. The book "brings an international group of leading theorists and artists together to investigate how the internet, in the form of websites, mailing lists, installations and performance, has been used by artists to develop artwork."

It includes work by The Yes Men, Thomson and Craighead, Lisa Jevbratt,, Charlie Gere, Tilman Baumgartel , Sarah Cook, and myself.

What makes this collection of writing so strong is that it mixes up theoretical writing with artist poetics while taking into account the emerging field of new media art history as well. In my contribution, "Digital Bop Poetics," I play around with a few ideas I have been developing lately, particularly the way peer-to-peer networks comprised of early net artists created metafictional personas as part of their networked identities and then strategically utilized these personas to intersubjectively tag whatever data they happened to be targeting at any given time. Toward the beginning of my piece, I drew heavily from my background as a published novelist and wrote:
This kind of in-your-face relational interactivity with the writing experience itself has been called everything from metafiction to self-reflexive postmodernism to masturbatory self-indulgence. But what’s a writer to do? Especially one who no longer feels the need to lock themselves in the traditional paradigm of what Barthes called the readerly novel, that ever predictable storytelling guise that constructs the narrative environment under such false pretenses that the reader literally gets lost in a book. Why get lost in a book when you can activate your own writerly intelligence in and beyond it? Bataille tells us he writes NOT to be mad. Cocteau says that writing is a sickness. Joyce reminds us that the writer is a pseudo-autobiographical work-in-progress who composes Exactly One Text as part of an endless surge of momentum that traces the energy flow of any given material culture captured in its local place and time. But what is local in the networked space of distributed flows and how are writers supposed to act in these transmediated environments?
If I were being literal, I might say this is local. But why not this? Or this?

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