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Re: <eyebeam><blast> Art and Digital Practices

hi all,
i have been a little lost in the techno-science-theory quagmire myself.
i am happy to see  some discussion focused on specific (art) projects.
i wanted to share a recent "application" of the web stalker that came to
mind after reading posts by matt and tim.

the web stalker won the "mr net.art contest" this year. all of the other
leading candidates, except for one, were artists with fairly well known
oeuvres. i was on the jury, and was very much in favor of the web
stalker's winning. one could say that by rewarding the web stalker, the
jury (though not in consensus) took a position suggesting that the
notion of the "artist" can morph online -- the web stalker was discussed
as being not strictly a software, but also an art piece, as its own
entity or personality, as a critical/political force, and additionally
as the product of those who coded it.

the jury wanted the contest to draw awareness to certain net.art issues
-- and the web stalker hit some strong notes: one, that the circle of
net.artists is small and incestuous, dominated by some strong and
largely male personalities -- and so the jury chose a VERY exogamous
winner. also, having a software, with aesthetic appeal AND a political
bent, stand for an artist and oeuvre, was a way of foregrounding how
this medium seems to allow for blurring of critical and aesthetic
exercises. indeed, in online communities like RHIZOME, american express,
nettime, etc., artists and critics mingle and clash all the time -- even
to the point where they impersonate one another (for example the weibel,
druckrey, deckter impersonations of a few months ago). the mr. net art
jury also discussed the differences/or lack there of between promoting
online personalities and products.

also, for those who are interested in exploring how particular software
projects relate to net art/politics, alex galloway's recent essay, "New
Interfaces, New Softwares, New Networks," which considers the web
stalker as part of a new genre of artist-designed or
artistically-focused applications, will be of interest. alex's text is
available in full at RHIZOME -- http://www.rhizome.com/query (query on
"alex galloway"):

+ + +
I/O/D's hacker politics have been implemented well in the Web Stalker
(www.backspace.org/iod). As a new type of "browser" the Web Stalker
offers a completely different interface for moving through pages on the
web. The user opens a URL, then watches as the Stalker spits back the
HTML source for that URL. In a parallel window the Web Stalker
exhaustively maps each page linked from that URL, exponentially
enlarging the group of scanned pages and finally pushing an entire set
of interlinked pages to the user. The pages are never displayed as they
are in a conventional browser (Netscape/Explorer)--the closest
comparison might be Lynx, the text only browser--rather, they are
diagrammed or mapped in a deep, complex hypertextual relation.
The Web Stalker, then, takes the idea of the visual browser and turns it
on its head. Instead of showing the art on the web through interpreting
HTML and displaying in-line images, it shows the web *as* art through a
making-visible of its latent structure. As the authors write, "the Web
Stalker is the first internet application designed by artists. It is a
unique example of artists re-visualizing data-space at a deep level"
The artistic focus on new kinds of interfaces and new softwares will
strengthen net.art and redefine its relation to politics. But does that
mean that the web itself is art, or that the web is political? Perhaps
what really is happening is that the tactical media, in this case
name.space and others, are, in certain contexts, being interpreted as
giant art projects, i.e. there is an aestheticization of politics going
on in netspace. (Woops! Didn't Benjamin in "Art in the Age of Mechanical
Reproduction" call that particular phenomena "fascism"?!)

 + + +
 best regards,
 p.s. discussion, results, and other info about the mr. net art contest
are also archived on rhizome

Rachel Greene
check out tech90s [http://www.tech90s.net], the moma, ada 'web, rhizome
          --> rachel@rhizome.com
          --> http://www.rhizome.com
          --> tel +1 212 965 8952
          --> fax +1 212 431 4679
          --> c/o postmasters gallery
          --> 80 greene st. ny, ny 10009
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