Benjamin Weil on Wed, 11 Mar 1998 08:47:15 +0100 (MET)

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<nettime> funding for the arts etc.

Further to the multiple postings of last week in reference to the
termination of adaweb, I was initially inclined not to go back into what
quickly began to look like a snake pit, as i thought there was no relevance
to create more unnecessary turmoil.  However, Mr. Byfield's postings have
encouraged me to step in for a last time, and clarify a number of points

1/ part of adaweb's founding mission was to explore possible alternatives as
 far as funding for art on line was concerned.  John Borthwick and myself
 believed it was important to consider the landscape, and figure out a way
 we could derive an economic model for a type of art production which was no
 longer unique (no commodification possible here!) and whose only existence
 - so to speak - was  virtual.  the idea was to be able to commission works,
 and compensate the artists we invited to work on those projects.  possibly
 a utopian vision, one might say.

2/ looking for alternate means of support was partly informed by the
 difficulty experienced by colleagues who sought to get public funding for
 their activities, and the fact that we wanted to fully concentrate on
 producing those works, rather than having to find work for hire contracts. 
 (for the prompt to fire insults, i will here state very clearly:  this is
 *not* by any means a value judgement, but just reflecting a choice to try
 and do things differently).  Furthermore, it was my belief that the
 development of the web would be an extraordinary opportunity for art to
 desegregate itself, and (re)gain a central position in the ambient cultural
 discourse and practice.  Both John Borthwick , the adaweb team and myself
 believed that exploring the dynamics and pushing the limits of the medium
 with the artists we produced work with, as well as the ones we hosted the
 projects of, was an important thing to contribute to the net.  it was one
 model among the many that were - and still are - being developed.

3/ working with corporate money was assumed to be one way of dealing with
 the absence of public funding.  however, rather than knocking at the
 corporate door asking for "charity" money, we thought we could convince
 them that art could be a valuable asset, as artists have always been
 cultural forerunners,  and that in that sense, it could be understood as a
 form of creative research which could make them understand better the
 medium they were investing in, and draw attention to their corporation as
 being innovative. 

to conclude, i must admit that the extreme violence of certain protagonists
in this discussion surprised me:  i guess that anyone who is not
perpetuating a certain position of hatred vis a vis corporations, anyone
who tries to find different ways to do things, tries to posit the problemsdifferently is just a criminal who needs to be immediately punished. 
and btw, those of you who feel that artists should remain "pure" and
"independent" (like there is of course such a thing as independence, we all
know that, right?) you will be happy to learn that yet another web site was
just closed, another "corporate teat sucker"!, another site  was
trying to do things differently, was nixed.

i would finally like to thank Robin Murphy, Ted Byfield and Michael Samyn
for attempting to refocus the conversation outside of the snakepit it
proved to turn into.

Benjamin Weil | 212 620-7288 x.104

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