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<eyebeam><blast> get real

This is my first posting and, as a way of situating myself in the
discussions, let me say that while I have been following this important
event, I haven't had the time or mental space to take part, because I
have been feverishly working on the first issue of a printed magazine
called ArtByte: The Magazine of Digital Arts. My e-mail account is
overloaded with the magazine's editorial work (some of which is with
participants in this list), and this poor Mac contains not one but two
magazines published by Fanning Publishing (the other being On Paper),
and swims perilously close to the deep end at all times. This brings me
to a number of interelated issues which fit into the discussions at

I remember talking at length some years ago with Carlos Basualdo as we
worked on the first issue of Trans, as to how we would justify a printed
magazine that was in part about using the internet for discussions to be
turned back into print. It was, I believe, Carlos thinking, that since
Trans was bilingual (primarily Spanish and English) that in print it
would be available to people who did not have access to a computer. Now
I find myself editing another print magazine (in English) which perports
to be about digital art. And while ArtByte is about many things other
than web art, it is non-the-less, as a critical journal, unable to form
a discussion like this, which stands apart, for better or worse, from
the international art world, or in some ways from the world of popular
culture.  But I wonder why these discussions leave out the larger
context of the plastic arts in and of the digital age. Making a thing in
the world is, I believe, still important, simply because it gives pause
and allows contemplation. This stopping or calling it completed may form
a part of what has traditionally been called art. I am not assuming that
anyone believes that art objects are completely anachronous to our
contemporary world, but I want to stand up for the importance of such
objects, digital or analogue, as a subject in these discussions. For
example digital prints (or photographs as the definition of "a
photograph" is expanded) can be and are made from internet transmissions
of files, and will, as technology serves, be made more often in this
way. For my own part as a maker of a print publication (I produce the
Quark files on this Mac), I got the Perry Hoberman images for ArtByte
issue # 1 from an existant web site.

Going back to recent comments of Michael Rees (taking his whimsy
seriously) as to what an art dealers' list would be like. It will never
exist, because, as I am finding, many dealers fear this arena, not only
because they think foolishly that it threatens hand made works of art,
but because art commerce gave up on criticism a long time ago, because
critical discourse is a tool for the production of art, rather than
about the promotion of art.  Then, for institutionally established art,
history and not discussion, counts. This along with the market crash,
led to the downfall of a number of art magazines in the early 90s. Of
course art is commerce as much as it is communications, or critique, or
politics, or anything else that has been argued in various postings,
which leads me to another point of entry. I do this art magazine work as
a job to support myself as an artist. I got into it as a writer and
editor because I was an artist, and I learned to do layout and print
production work as a freelancer because I had no other profession than
artist. As time went on, free lance became career, and I became managing
editor of Arts magazine which died in the early 90s and on and on.  My
present magazine is influenced not only by my art background, but by my
knowledge of digital outputs in commercial printing and prepress (note
for example that one of the most innovative fine art digital print
publishers, Muse X, comes out of and is supported by a commercial
prepress house in LA). Also it is becoming clear that industry is
looking at digital arts, in some cases having artists beta test
equipment, and I wouldn't be surprised if art works will some day come
with Sony, or Microsoft logos (the real version of what was only hinted
at by the "commodity" art of the 1980s such as that of Ashley
Bickerton). The point is not only about art and commerce, but about art
and how it is effected by the means of dissemination. Paul D. Miller aka
DJ Spooky that subliminal kid and others have not only broadened the
definition of the digital arts, but have ventured into commercial
realms, while trying to keep their art in tact. It is rare that anyone
can do this, but rather than fragment our lives we may need to find ways
to encounter the world of commerce, rather than try to build another 
underground or subculture. This I believe is the downfall of the
contemporary art world, not because the artists wished to become an
elite group, but because they needed the protection and a way to
differentiate what they did from the crap that passes for cultural
production. These walls no longer exist, except in Chelsea up against
the Hudson and in the very few other international capitals, and so the
things that art once played at like politics and psychoanalysis and
language theory and advertising and  pop music and so on are for real
now, which gives us the chance to see if art really exists. This amounts
to a deregulation of art. I for one may not agree with the course, as I
prefer the protection of the gallery et al, but there is little or no
choice. The Galleries are becomeing the museums of the future.

I guess what I'm saying is that things are more complicated than they
have ever been. And the truly positive thing is their simultaneity.
Painting and sculpture can and do exist with digital prints and web art.
And artists should be able to think commercially while writing theory.
And print magazines can exist and publish things from the web, not to
mention downloading their scanned files from web sites etc. We have to
be careful about new forms of catagorization while at the same holding
our various positions. It's more than a little crazy, but it's the
wonder of this new world.

Bill Jones

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