Dr. Future on Sun, 23 Aug 1998 14:57:25 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Hard Copy (re: white cube)

Josephine Bosma wrote:
> >[Tina LaPorta] My experiences are true to what Ursula has suggested, whether it's cable
> >channels or the Net, the traditional art world refuses to acknowledge other
> >media environments as a viable context for art production and distribution.
> >And, as ArtNews points out, in turning a blind eye to these communication
> >channels, arts institutions are now paying the price by being so clearly
> >voiceless and completely absent within the larger cultural debate(s)
> >outside the white cube of the contemporary art world.
> I think the artworld has turned its eye and focus away from the most
> important development in art this century: media/electronic/ technological
> art, which started in the beginning of this century.[...] The reasons for this
> neglectence are probably complex, but one annoyingly controversial one (as
> net art criticism/theory has started to be called too political) is the
> desire to stick to easily marketable products, or more simple: to stay
> with the easy cash. This is such a clear fact that it seems critics prefer
> not to take the consequences of knowing it for real and rewrite
> arthistory.

There are lots of ways that the art world/market can develop to force
standard commodification onto media art (though marketability is not the
same thing as distributability and reproducability). Take Video Art and
Young British Artists. Just when media critics are telling us that Video
Art no longer exists because it no longer has its own language/medium
specificity/etc, the art world embraces the new wave of Video Artists as
soon as their canny dealers work out how to turn it into works of art.
Now when you go to an art show there is usually at least one video
playing on a monitor in the corner and you can buy a copy of the tape
for a few hundred or thousand pounds in a limited edition of one, five
or whatever they think the market will bear this month. Fortunately the
work of the YBAs is generally much better (in purely artistic terms)
than the previous generation of British Video Artists but that's another

I know a "Computer artist" in New York that some years ago worked out
with her manager a load of groovy ideas for selling her digital artwork.
She would sell the "Electronic rights" to a digital image (it's for
hanging on a wall, remember?) which involved giving the collector a
floppy disk of the work which would then be locked in a bank safety
deposit box. The collector was also made party to a legal contract which
gave them the right to access the floppy disk and make one print
whenever the previous print got covered in coffee stains (or something
like that...). Any more print copies were disallowed or had to be
renegotiated. There must have been a way to make sure they only made one
print at a time as well. But I'm sure someone will figure it out.

In The Future the goal of a digital artist will be to take the most
de-centralised, intangible, replicatable, non-auratic  media available
and find a way to make an artwork that will reduce it to a single
commodity. It will involve a high degree of ingenuity to take a
distributed art form (like this mailing list) and to interrupt its
on-going and open-ended format to achieve the required condensation and
valuation (the Nettime Bible!). But when the work is done and you are
congratulated for your imagination and creativity at least you will have
something you can flog instead of just a slot on the lecturing circuit.

Keep It Real
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