Jon C. Ippolito on Fri, 13 Mar 1998 09:24:51 +0100 (MET)

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<nettime> 'ada boy, ada'web

I'm perplexed by the vehement criticisms on nettime of adaweb's 
dependence on corporate sponsorship. This may be because I have been 
beholden, in my career as an artist, to certain influences that I should 
probably confess at the outset:

* I have been known to eat food, which I did not grow or prepare myself, 
supplied in a can or other receptacle bearing the commercial logo of an 
American corporation.

* I have been known to wear clothing that I did not stitch together 
myself and that in fact contained a promotional label sewn inside the 
collar (at least as visible as the tiny phrase "digital city" in 6-point 
type tucked inside an unscrolled frame on the adaweb home page).

* I have a day job at a big art museum (gasp!), and have even been known 
to use my paltry salary from this job to buy art supplies.

* I have been known to send messages to others using a computer--a 
device that wouldn't exist without a history of research funding from 
the military-industrial complex.

I guess I don't see the real issue as sponsorship versus independence.  
Good art is almost always ahead of the rest of culture, so I'm not 
surprised when the rest of culture doesn't understand it, approve it, or 
pay for it. I think the real issue is what you as a curator or artist 
manage to get away with given the constraints you choose to work with.  
By accepting Julius II's patronage, Michelangelo accepted some pretty 
considerable constraints. After all, Michelangelo didn't choose to work 
on a curved ceiling full of architectural encumbrances; it's just that 
all of the good walls in the Sistine chapel were already taken. Within 
those constraints, he still managed to pull off a compositional feat 
without equal--and in the process to sneak some very undoctrinaire 
representations of sexuality under (or was it over?) the Pope's nose.

Adaweb's accomplishments may not be on as heroic a scale, and it's 
certainly time we investigated new models of patronage. But to compare 
adaweb's projects to Absolute Vodka ads is to ignore the fact that what 
adaweb got out of Digital City is a lot more important in the long run 
than what Digital City got out of adaweb.  It is adaweb's art--not its 
patron--that will stick in my mind long after the site is archived.

Jon Ippolito

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