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<eyebeam><blast> Internet, modernisation and net.art

On the imposibility of "national schools" on net.art

Internet functions as an agent of modernization, just as other means of
communication did before it -- railroad, post, telephone, motor car, air
travel, radio. Internet is a way for people to enter into a singular
socio-linguistic space, defined by a certain Euro-English vocabulary and
the names of stars, by a computer competency, by pop music. It is a way
for people in different places to enter modernity -- the space of
homogeneity, of currency exchange shops, of Coca-Cola signs, or raves
and club cloves, or CDs, of constant youth, itself the best symbol for
movement and constant change, the symbol for leaving your roots and
traditions behind  the space where everything can be converted into
money signs, just like a computer can convert everything into bits.

And this is why we, in the West, should not expect culturally-specific
Internet art, should not wait for Internet dialects, for some national
schools of Net art. This simply would be a contradiction in terms. To
expect diffirent countries to create their own national schools of Net
art is the same as to expect them to create their own customized brands
of Coca-Cola. The sole meaning of Coca-Cola, its sole function is that
it is the same everywhere.

Net is an agent of modernization as well as a perfect metaphor for it.
It is a post, a telephone, a motor car, plane travel, taken to the
extreme. Thus, we should not be surprised that a typical Net art
project, whether it is done in Seattle or Bucharest, in Berlin or in
Odessa, is about communication itself, is about the Internet. Net art
projects are materializations of social networks. These projects make
the networks visible and create them at the same time -- just as raves,
party cloves and body piercing, CDs and names of music groups, of
transnational companies, of products. It is a way for young people in
Oslo and Warsaw, in Belgrad and Glasgow to enter modernity and to become
its agents for the rest of a society. And just as it would be naive
(although of course we can immediately recall or imagine some serious
museum show on the image of a gas station in modern landscape painting,
and even thick art historical or anthropological monographs on the
subject) to take seriously "the art of a gas station," the category of
"Net art" is a logical mistake. So-called Net art projects are simply
visible manifestations of social, linguistic and psychological networks
being created or at least made visible by these very projects, of people
entering the space of modernity, the space where old cities pay the
price for entering the global economy by Disney-fying themselves, where
everybody is paying some price: exchanging person-to-person
communication for virtual communication (telephone, fax, Internet);
exchanging close groups for distributed virtual communities, which more
often than not are like train stations, with everybody constantly coming
and leaving, rather than the cozy cafes of the old avant-garde;
exchanging decayed but warm interiors for shiny, bright but cold
surfaces. In short, exchanging the light of a candle for a light of an
electric bulb, with all the consequences this exchange involves.

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