Talan Memmott on 2 Mar 2001 19:22:41 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] net art histories (continued)

> Just yesterday I was lecturing in two of Mark Amerika's courses
> at University of Colorado. I can assure you most assumptions here
> are incorrect as to intent.
> What also must be mentioned concerns Mark's claim of net art
> being dead...  Ever hear of IRONY, or HUMOR...?

I was contacted back channel and asked to provide some clarification of my
very brief critique of the 'net art histories' debate as it relates to
comments made about the new program at University of Colorado, Boulder.

I am forwarding this message to the list...

First, I held off on making any comment (on the program) until I had
attended (as a visiting artist) the courses to see for myself what was going

There were a number of comments in this thread on net art history that I
found presumptuous.

1. the critique of the term "innovative ciriculum" being some sort of 'biz
talk'... When this is in fact something Mark is working around... By this I
mean, many of the students at this point seem to think that an Internet Art
course is going to be some sort of software introduction and training
course -- something that they believe will get them some cushy developers
job... Where the course are geared more toward exposing, exploring and
developing techniques in hypermedia.

2. another comment in the thread that seemed a bit off is the idea that
based on Mark's Transmediale presentation there is an assumption that there
will be forthcoming 'necrologues' of net art... Hardly the case, as most of
the students are at the beginning of a learning curve. Another note is that
Mark is not teaching 'net art' only -- one of the courses I spoke in is
called "Histories of Internet Art"... History is plural here because the
media/um is so wide and exceeds any single definition, and Internet is used
rather than NET to avoid some of the political issues surrounding the term
'net art' and to keep the course open to a variety of work.

(Concerning Mark's lack of engagement on Nettime, and being ONLY a

I could give you that one, if the discussion of this issue on the list was
not laid out in a third-hand fashion -- the comment that 'net art is dead'
was relayed to nettime by Olia Lialina who had heard the comment second-hand
from students that had attended the event. Mark's presentation was parodic
of American culture in that the 'net art is dead' comment was actually
placed in the context of a list -- "Top Ten Reasons Net Art is Dead"... The
irony and humor of this was premeditated and intentional...

I think it is an error to called Mark ONLY a writer. When you think of
thinks like Phon.eme are we talking writing here? Also, some of the work
that is coming down the pipe from Mark in the very near future extends the
premise of Internet art to include live networked performance in some
interesting ways. I would mention more about this forthcoming work, but it
is not my place to spill the beans about an artist's work in progress...
Also, the notion that Mark should be teaching hypertext or something seems
odd to me -- both exclusionary and divisive -- as much of the discussion
revolves around determing the terms which determine the media/um.
As well, the notion of what writing 'is' is changing, and now includes the
graphical, and interactive elements of the work as part of 'text'... This
was very much a topic in my presentations, and one that draws into question
the differnetiation of network based ART and WRITING.

The two courses I spoke in -- "Histories of Internet Art" and "Digital
Narrative" focus on a wide variety of work which includes everything from
traditional hypertext to web art, net art, to games, and a number of other
areas. And, some of the debate involves the 'naming' of the media/um.  At
one point during my talks I placed all of the names for net.works under the
heading "Creative Cultural Practice through Applied Technology" -- though a
mouthful, and perhaps an overly academic heading, it seems to allow the
delimiting of various practices without being exclusionary... (a nice
convenience for teaching)...  One thing that I would NOT want to see come
out of program like what is being established in Boulder is bunch of
students coming out as say 'net artists' and producing work that is
completely derivative of say, jodi.org... Or, saying they are 'hypertext
artists' and producing work that looks like some Eastgate title... The
courses are about continuing and furthering the media/um, while allowing the
students to follow their own creative path.

I was actually quite surprised that I was able to get into some fairly heady
theory (particularly in the 'Digital Narative' course) about network
identity, agency, performative language, and the genre/media busting that is
so much a part of the over all network...


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