Keith Sanborn on Thu, 12 Mar 1998 00:06:54 +0100 (MET)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: <nettime> funding for the arts etc.

Mr. Weil:

Just a small reminder: it was you who originally placed the conversation
"in the snake pit." I for one, for better or for worse, jumped in to
reflect back, from another point of view, the same tone you had set. Glad
to see you've changed your tone, if not your mind.

In response to your specific points:

1/ A sponsored site enters the market as advertising. While it's not a
physical commodity that is sold to its recipients, the recipients, as
Richard Serra quoting someone else once said "are the commodity."
Television delivers people to advertisers; corporate sponsors buy
attention for themselves by using art to attract potential users of their

2/It seems the only thing you've" done differently" is failed to pay in
money terms the artists whose work you use for advertising. I think we
already covered this with reference to Manfreddo Tafuri: "The fate of
formal innovation in the arts is to be coopted by advertising." It's a bit
more complicated in the case of less visible sponsorship, but not a lot
different than those Absolute Vodka ads. The difference being that
Absolute Vodka had to pay the artists for the more radical product

3/The notion that "artists" need support on the web--at least in North
America or Western Europe is far from self-evident. For a relatively low
cost and low investment of learning time it is relatively easy to create
one's own web pages and place them. If artists wish to use the services of
a site supporting artists in order to increase their visibility, then they
are simply using the site to advertise their work. They are allowing their
work to be used in exchange for the privledge of having it seen which
could conceivably lead to some other long term benefit. Corporate or
government or individual patronage is never disinterested. No matter how
much of a potlatch mentality is involved, the potlatch aspect is used to
enhance one's prestige as it is with its originators, the indigenous
inhabitants of Northwestern North America. One affirms one's right to
one's potlatch seat by giving away things on deliberately public
occasions; one catches hold of a grooviness quotient in the corporate
hierarchy by sponsoring artists. DUH!!!

I find your surprise at the violence of language extremely disingenuous;
it reflects the violence of upward shifts of wealth taking place in the 
world economy. Microserfs of the world unite! you have nothing to lose but
your bottom rung status in the corporate hierarchy! And you have a sense
of humor to gain;)

Keith Sanborn

 On Tue, 10 Mar 1998, Benjamin
Weil wrote:

> 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
> here.
> 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
> ---
> #  distributed via nettime-l : no commercial use without permission
> #  <nettime> is a closed moderated mailinglist for net criticism,
> #  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
> #  more info: and "info nettime" in the msg body
> #  URL:  contact:

#  distributed via nettime-l : no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a closed moderated mailinglist for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  URL:  contact: