Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ten Year After Party (GRAMMATRON-style)

It was ten years ago today that I released GRAMMATRON.

The New York Times columnist Matthew Mirapaul wrote about the release in his weekly column published the very same day.

There were over two dozen international exhibitions including a few historically relevant events like this one.

GRAMMATRON was the first of the three works in what I called my "net art" or "new media" trilogy. The other two were PHON:E:ME and FILMTEXT and, although I have made many other smaller net art works, these three are the ones that were featured in my four early career retrospectives. In fact, the "Avant-Pop: The Stories of Mark Amerika" net art retrospective in Tokyo is generally considered the first-ever net art retrospective and the follow-up "How To Be An Internet Artist" exhibition at the ICA in London the second such event (and the first in the UK/Europe).

GRAMMATRON's Abe Golam is interviewed at Rhizome as part of Net Dialogues.
AG: So?

MA: So, basically, we have been quietly designing our next projects: a new ebook/Palm series of titles, a print on-demand series, an mp3 label, a “Histories of Internet Art” web site built by university students and participating net.artists to be used as a free resource for those interested in what net.art was.

AG: Was?

MA: Well, let’s use “was” *for now*. Maybe we can come back to “is” shortly, after yesterday’s crash (to quote the Berlin Dadaists).

AG: OK. I’ll ask again: what was it?

MA: What?

AG: Net art.

MA: Well, that’s what we’re investigating. Actually, what we are finding out is that we have come to a point in the history of Internet art practice where researching its immediate past reveals wonderful ironies.

AG: Such as?

MA: First of all, think of how many of the most notorious artists were so clever at using the net to attract attention to their projects, to simultaneously exhibit and publicize themselves. They were so good at this that within a few years of launching their “initial public offerings,” we now see major works of net art exhibited in some of the biggest shows coming out of mainstream institutions like the Whitney, SFMOMA, the Tate, etc. It almost makes video art look as anachronistic as painting.

But one of the ironies that has evolved is that, for the most part, the value of this work has been underestimated by the artists themselves while being under-MINED by the same mainstream institutions that are turning to I-art as The Next Big Thing. Why do you suppose that is?

AG: It must have something to do with the gallery scene.
Then, in 2001, GRAMMATRON was featured in a "Time Person of the Year" article (as a close confidante likes to rib me ever so lightly -- it was actually for a Time 100 Innovators Special).

In 1997-2001, things were getting really hot, and to be honest, totally out of my control, and all I could do was sit back and watch the WWW as collectively generated meme machine do its thing.

I wrote about it as fast as I could in my Amerika Online entries (I called AOL an online column back then -- now we would call it a blog).

In many ways, GRAMMATRON has been parlayed into one of the two or three most successful works of net art ever created, but that's a story that will have to be told in the future, preferably from a beach in Hawaii.

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