Robert Atkins on Fri, 28 Apr 2000 18:09:14 +0200 (CEST)


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[Nettime-bold] The File Room


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Ken Jordan 212-246-0202, x3021; ken@mediachannel.org

"THE FILE ROOM," A PIONEERING DIGITAL ARTWORK ABOUT CENSORSHIP, IS BACK
ON-LINE VIA MEDIACHANNEL.ORG

One of the earliest and most impressive examples of online media art is New
York- and Barcelona-based artist Antonio Muntadas's "File Room". Debuting
in 1994, this interactive archive of two millennia of social and cultural
censorship chronicles hundreds of cases of perceived censorship, sometimes,
but not always, covered in the media or other public forums. It invokes
questions about the character of censorship itself and offers a repository,
or hidden history, of thwarted personal and communal expression.  Any
visitor to "The File Room" may add new cases of censorship to the database
by filling out a simple online form. Or search the site by geography,
subject matter, medium or time period. The result is a powerful experience
that makes real the insidious nature and effects of censorship.  It can be
seen on-line at http://www.thefileroom.org

"MediaChannel.org is delighted to present and host 'The File Room,' said
Robert Atkins, the site's Media Arts editor.  "We see it as the anchor of
our Media Arts section, and a perceptive critique of the 'consciousness
industry.'  This celebrated artwork was one of the first on the World Wide
Web, prior even to the release of the Netscape Navigator browser."  Mr.
Atkins' coverage of the culture wars appeared in the Village Voice from
1987-1994.

Derived from a personal experience in which Muntadas's artwork was
censored, "The File Room" is one of the artist's many works addressing
power relations within society. It was developed as a project of Randolph
Street Gallery (a non-profit art space) in collaboration with the
University of Illinois at Chicago's School of Art and Design. Following its
debut as both a physical installation and virtual artwork at the Chicago
Cultural Center on May 20, 1994, it was immediately acclaimed in the press
as:
 "one of the first art-related events to tap the Internet as an
information pool, rather than as an alternative distribution system for
'zines or digitized images." (World Art, 11/94)
 "The File Room forces us to rethink our relationship to current
technologies and, within that releationship, the role of art in a political
system that has and will continue to censor it." (New Art Examiner, 10/94)
 " 'A lot of the work that interests me in this arena can't appear within
the museum's solid architecutre, but only within the invisible architecture
of the Internet,' " [then-Whitney Museum of American Art director David]
Ross says. His inspiration? The File Room." (Wired, 12/94)

When Randolph Street Gallery closed in 1998, Muntadas began considering
other online venues for it. Unlike conventional artworks, an interactive,
ever-growing project like "The File Room," demands computer server space
and upkeep. After many discussions with museums, Muntadas selected The
Media Channel as a kind of experiment. "Since contemporary work is not
always relevant to museums" he observed "It is important to create a new
context for it on the Net."

The return of "The File Room" to the Web was made possible by support from
The Rockefeller Foundation. The University of Illinois and Randolph Street
Gallery provided support for the initial realization of the project.

Muntadas's first gallery exhibitions in New York since 1995 are now
visible, through May 27, at Kent Gallery, 67 Prince St and 113 Crosby St in
Soho.



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