Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Interstitial Networks (Making Art Relate)

More from Bourriaud's essay in Participation:
Contemporary art resembles a period of time that has been experienced, or the opening of a dialogue that never ends [...] art has always been relation to some extent. It has, in other words, always been a factor in sociability and has always been the basis for dialogue. One of the image's potentials is its capacity for 'linkage' [reliance], to use Michael Maffesoli's term: flags, logos, icons, and signs all produce empathy and sharing, and generate links.
Creating dialogue, exhibiting social behaviors that bond in a self-perpetuating interstitial network of positive reinforcement, intersubjectively jamming with the homies in a participatory art practice that plays to fantasy images of utopian togetherness so fluid that the synesthetic bleeding of the senses, one into the other, goes one step further and fills your orifices with an orgiastic language you can no longer necessarily call your own...
Every artist whose work derives from relational aesthetics has his or her own world of forms, his or her problematic and his or her own trajectory: there are no stylistic, thematic or iconographic links between them. What they do have in common is much more determinant, namely the fact that they operate with the same practical and theoretical horizon: the sphere of interhuman relationships. Their work brings into play modes of social exchange [...]
Of course, one could say that net art, particularly its early history which coincides with the first set of dialogues surrounding relational aesthetics in the late 90s, is the ur-form of art that plays with social relationships in an interstitial network. Can anyone say Rhizome? Nettime? Alt-X?

Not to mention the endless international media arts festivals that serve as large-scale social events built around themes that promote solidarity ("DIY" - "Revolution" - "Fleshfactor" - "Electrofringe" - "Hyperpolis 2.0" - "Consciousness Reframed" - what's next? - "Porno for Pyros"?).
Art is a site that produces a specific sociability.
Oftentimes, curatorial practice becomes the work of art in a relational aesthetic. Back in 2001, the Korea Web Art Festival featured newly commissioned art works from many net artists, including Young Hae-Chang, Lisa Jevbratt, Critical Art Ensemble,, Superbad, and a few others, including my work 13. Although 13 initially identified itself more in the tradition of early conceptual art and was attempting to rethink Art (capital A) in relation to the site specificity of the Internet as exhibition context, it also touched on the idea of the so-called artist (small a), i.e. me, inviting thirteen other artists to mutate a common set of data into an exhibition subset that would point to the art/social relationships I myself was having at that time and wanted to build a new work of art around. In my letter to thirteen artist-friends, students, and even a couple of colleagues who I only met virtually (over the net) a week or two before sending the letter, I wrote:
Dear _____,

I have been invited to participate in The Korea Web Art Festival scheduled to take place between December 8, 2001 and February 8, 2001. The work I have decided to create is a collaborative net art work featuring the talents and energies of some of my favorite artists, writers, designers and thinkers. This work will be called "13" and is modeled after a very simple conceptual work process I created on a recent plane trip. Here's the skinny:

"13" grows out of an idea I've been focused on, namely that the WWW opens up poetic language to a new form of image ecriture.

The premise: online conceptual art is unique from any other form of art that came before it, but seriously depends on many other forms of art. Part of the idea of "13" is influenced by the activities and energies that emerged from Alfred Stieglitz's journal "291," Francis Picabia's follow-up journal "391" (which, he said, was significant because the numbers added up to 13) and the conceptual art project Art and Language.

I have also borrowed some ideas from other Conceptualists and Neo-Conceptualists, that is, I have decided to create a work of net art by arbitrarily assigning myself a system or process of production and then inviting others to create the actual work. For those of you who have worked with me before, you know that this would be a natural direction for my new work to go in.

The challenge: take that premise and write up thirteen terms that best describe the variety of work being created in a contemporary net art practice. In doing so, write a short thirteen word "definition" for each of the thirteen terms. Write it in thirteen minutes. Then: send the text file to thirteen artist/designers inviting them to remix my ideas in whatever way they feel comfortable.

The net connection: as Bruce Mau says at the end of his essay "Twelve Strategies: Essay on Collaboration," "[r]ely on gut instinct, and simply go where the feeling is good."

By going to you, the feeling is good.

If you would like to participate, then these are the absolute deadlines I need you to meet:

Confirmation or Regrets -- September 1, 2001

Final delivery of data -- October 1, 2001

The 13 terms and "definitions" are attached below as are a list of the other participating artists/sites in the Korea Web Art Festival.

Thanks for considering this and I look forward to collaborating with you on this.




Invited Artists:

- Mark Amerika
- Candy Factory
- Critical Art Ensemble
- Entropy8zuper!
- Lisa Jevbratt
- Sean Kerr
- Talan Memmott
- Motomichi Nakamura
- Beth Stryker + Sawad Brooks
- Superbad


The text:

Thirteen Ways of Looking At Net Art, Or: A Short Dictionary of Terms

site-specific: each term has its own meaning, its own rhythm, its own 13 words

environmental: the space-time discontinuum as performed by the multitudes, virtuality guaranteed (no hidden extras)

conceptual: not thinking about it, but directing it as if it were your own

performance: an eerie feeling that ones sensibility is being hijacked by a mediumistic impulse

literary: not in idea-things, but the idea-things in themselves, ovulating (in endless repetition endlessly)

relational aesthetics: being in the right place at the right time and accepting your fate

appropriation: "The day that I was to be slaughtered was a very busy day."

art in public places: severing identities and playing roles that even well scripted Professors refuse to doctor

dematerialization of the art object: a symbolic analyst interpreting raw data while devouring Time in a blurrrrrr lifestyle

aura: when history has a way of making a clean break from it all

outsider: brute force with nothing to lose and everything to gain (keep hope alive)

large glass: that knowingly aphrodisiacal quality that she sends from on high while penetrating depths

mainstream: determining what can no longer be accepted as the only alternative to death
Looking back at the short definition of "relational aesthetics" -- "being in the right place at the right time and accepting your fate" -- I cannot help but laugh. First, with no English translation of Bourriard's essay published at the time 13 was released, I am sure I had not read it, and had only heard about it second hand at best, probably in some loose conversation, perhaps at a gallery opening in Denver? Or was it Albany, at the opening of "Wired" as part of the monster Book/Ends event? Maybe it was at Transmediale 2001 in Berlin where we discussed the DIY uses of distribution as an art form in and of itself?

I'll have to dig deeper.

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