Institute for Applied Autonomy on 14 Nov 2000 14:33:25 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Open Letter to ArtByte

The Institute for Applied Autonomy (IAA) was rather surprised last week to
find ourselves criticized in the pages of ArtByte for an event that never
took place. In a piece entitled "Scritti Politti," an anonymous writer
reported that our GraffitiWriter robot was "set loose on Austrian television
during an interview with the sci-fi novelist" Neal Stephenson.
"Unfortunately," the piece continues, "all it wrote on the studio floor was
"Ars Electronica", a missed opportunity for splattery subversion."

While we appreciate his appetite for alliteration, we are deeply
disappointed in the author's facility with fact. The events described are a
complete fabrication, the GraffitiWriter did not "speed from the wings" to
disrupt Stephenson's interview. Nor did it print the message the writer
alludes to on the floor of the studio.

Instead, the IAA used its involvement with the Prix Ars Electronica
broadcast for a much-needed political intervention. While accepting an award
of distinction, IAA operatives roundly criticized Austrian anti-free speech
policies and drew particular attention to public_netbase, a longtime home
for Austrian dissident speech that has been the subject of funding cuts,
evictions, lawsuits, and government harassment. These operatives also
announced our intention to donate our award to public_netbase to help this
organization carry out its important work. During this intervention, the
GraffitiWriter was employed to spraypaint public_netbase's URL on the stage
in fluorescent orange paint. This message remained visible for the remainder
of the hour-long television program, providing public_netbase with
international publicity. Photo documentation of the Prix Ars Electronica
action is available at the IAA's website (

Since this intervention, public_netbase has used the IAA prize to sponsor an
Austrian Web Resistance Award highlighting three projects of cultural
electronic resistance in Austria. Additional information about this award
may be found at public_netbase's website,

Of course, ArtByte readers would never know this had taken place. Nor, for
that matter, would they know much of anything that happened outside the
conveniently scandalous confines of the Next Sex exhibition. Throughout the
week attempts were made to inject the proceeding with political content,
from our action, to Golden Nica winner Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's references to
fascism and media control during his acceptance speech, to the well-attended
forum organized by Lozano-Hemmer, Konrad Becker, and others. And while
Crawford correctly notes that these efforts generated much less media
attention than the "technosexy events and artworks," as a journalist he is
certainly in a position to shed "heat and light" on these proceedings. His
failure to do so strikes us as a "missed opportunity" indeed.


The Institute for Applied Autonomy

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