simon penny on 19 Mar 2001 13:15:51 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> Carl Loeffler (and art history)

Re the below

I met Carl in the 80's  (Like hundreds of others, no doubt), at the first
ISEA conference, then at his offices in SF. As I recall, ArtCom (not
Artcon!) was associated with LaMamelle, though long term SF residents will
doubtelss know the details which I don't.

Loeffler did come to CMU in the early 90's.  He was not teaching but was a
fellow in the Studio for Creative Inquiry, working with his long time
collaborator Fred Truck on the early stages of a PC based networked VR
project, which was then spun off as a funded research project, housed in a
CMU 'research park' type environment off campus. (I am, and was during that
time, faculty in the school of art at CMU).

1993 Truck showed his "The Labyrinth" (an immersive interactive artwork,
and a component of the Loeffler project) at Machine Culture, the exhibition
of interactive installation which I curated '91-'93 for Siggraph '93 in
Anaheim. (Catalog in SIGGRAPH 1993 Visual Proceedings, special Issue of ACM
Computer Graphics 1993)

Loeffler's CMU project foundered and he left the campus sometime 96/97? (I
don't know the date). Since then I have heard nothing of him and can either
confirm or deny the rumor. By best suggestion is that Fred Truck would
probably know. He used to be

More Generally, re Murphy's:
>Me thinks a great many names are in the process of being "expunged" right
>now by American art museums, galleries and magazines as they write the
>history of "art in a technological age..."

This is quite definitely true,  the case of Jack Burnham being a case in
point.(see my : "Systems Aesthetics + Cyborg Art:  The Legacy of Jack
Burnham," Sculpture Magazine 18:1 (Jan-Feb 1999).  Published online at .)

Sometimes this is due to simple ignorance: the people doing the work are
new to the field, and have not had the benefit of any formal training to
offset their lack of experience. This is due to the almost complete lack of
organised work of recording the history, a fact that e-media artists have
been lamenting for 15 years that I can remember. This lack of history has
the effect that new generations of e-media artists reinvent projects,
blissfully unaware that the same concept has been realised several times in
the past, in different generations of technology.

Art Colleges and Universities, along with the institution of Art History,
are at fault here for not being proactive in building courses in the
history of e-media art, as they clamber to establish programs in digital
media practice. Any digital media art teacher knows the load that
introducing some sort of historical and critical contextualisation adds to
the already heavy load of teaching the media practices themselves (and
usually running the lab as well). Thankfully a new generation of art
historians, such as Oliver Grau and Edward Schanken, are taking some
initiative here. Not to mention the various less formal projects such as
the Vasulka's Eigenwelt der Apparate-welt (Ars Electronica 92) and Stephen
Jone's history of computer graphics in Australia.

Most of the forgotten made the mistake of being to far ahead of their time.
Fred Truck was making interactive Artificial Intelligence artworks a decade
ago, Jack Burnham wrote on semiotics and art in the early 70s, a good
decade or more before it became fashionable in pomo circles. Joseph
Weizenbaum should be recognised as the creator of the first 'socially
intelligent agent' artwork with Eliza in the late 60s. etc etc...

In any event, the list of the forgotten is longer than that of the
remembered. It may be useful and interesting, here on nettime, to assemble
a list of forgotten pioneers (recognising that one person's 'forgotten
pioneer' is likely to be another's mentor or friend). If this motivates
you, here is my suggestion: under a subject line "Forgotten Pioneers", list
your key contenders by name, followed by dates active, city/region/country
of residence, titles of significant works (and locations if not lost), a
short 5-15 line summary of their contributions, then contact addresses (if
known) and citiations. The list can include theorists, curators and
historians as well as artists.

This list may get huge, I recognise, with contributions from various
countries. It will probably need to be divided into media categories, or at
least indexed in some way. Still, it would become a useful resource for
historians, curators, those assembling new courses, artists and various
others. If it takes off it could be spun off into a website.

Simon Penny

>On Fri, 16 Mar 2001, Tilman Baumgaertel wrote:
>> Murphy, you mention Carl Loeffler, and that he died recently, a fact of
>> which I wasn't aware. In my research on early, pre-internet
>> telecommunication art I kept encountering his name. He edited an issue of
>> Leonardo Magazine on telecommunication art and started the
>> newsgroup - that is as much as I know of him.
>I'm beginning to think I imagined his death. I know I read an obit
>somewhere, probably Wired News, but searches have brought no mention.
>There's not much from him past 1996. If my report of his death was
>exaggerated I apologize. Even if that is the case it's still strange that
>so many people don't know what happened to him. He was still running the
> newsgroup and teaching (I think) at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh
>around 1993. His concept of a "virtual museum" was an influence on me
>early on and I've been interested in these earlier theories of virtuality
>Me thinks a great many names are in the process of being "expunged" right
>now by American art museums, galleries and magazines as they write the
>history of "art in a technological age..."

Re Murphy's
>There's been interest in the "archaic days" lately, the period pre-1994
>stretching back to the dawn of humankind. Carl Leoffler's death the other
>day reminded me that his ArtCon newsgroup was one of my first contacts
>with other artists on the net. I think both Heath Bunting and Brad Brace
>were there.

It was ArtCom.

Simon Penny

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