Francis Hunger on Mon, 1 Jul 2019 20:50:11 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Has net-art lost political significance?

Hi Rachel,

A bit more detail about why I'm asking this question: 

I’m currently writing about various tactical and activist practices in the wireless space, including artistic interventions, software-defined radio communities who are reverse-engineering, hacking, sniffing and jamming signals, communities and activists who are building communal Wi-Fi and cellular networks and artists making work in or about the politics of the wireless spectrum – who owns it, how it’s controlled and so on.

I think exceptional work in the early 2000s was done in the Acoustic Ecologies and Acoustic Space series by and Rasa and Raitis HMKV Dortmund saw the Waves exhibition

But I’m feeling a bit paralysed. 

I love these works; I love their inventive materiality and the ways that they exploit and reverse-engineer existing systems, but I don’t know what claims I can make for their political impact. And yet I feel that this work is still very worthwhile.

It may simply be the case that artists have notoriously overstated the possible impact of their works/research. Which makes sense against the historical context: During the late 1990s and early 2000s "Internet" was still something new and not part of overall discourse and academic discourse, so it was relatively easy for artists tapping in or creating a certain discursive field that appeared to be "avant-garde" at that time. This possibility to create and direct discourse slowly evaporated with capital on the one hand and academia on the other joining in, and re-shaping the discoursive field towards "the digital" as we know it today.

Claims of impact may also have been made to simply get funding, since one of the tactics of tactical media was getting public or private funding, since the works were not being sold on the art market. So no income from Basel.

Already early on there has been internal critique against certain claims that (some) media art made. Personally for me the most important intervention was Alexei Shulgins 1997 proposal against "interactive art". and I wonder, if similar critique of tactical media was around at that time. I think so.

All in all it never has been an undisputed field, and you feeling paralysed may be just worth to follow. One of the results of this kind of critical inquiry may be to look more precisely into the claims that AI based art makes today.



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