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Re: <eyebeam><blast> net criticism

You say that nettime is "involved in the building up of a public,
non/low commercial, independant infrastructures for artists, activists
and theorists" while then following with a comment that 

>Art is a dead end street when it comes to a better understanding of the
>emerging cyber economy. Okey, there is 'net.art'. Yes, there is the
>older discipline of the 'electronic arts' (the ISEA-ZKM-V2-ICC-ARS
>gangs), with its ties in video art, performance, conceptual industries
>etc. But these art forms (with some exeptions) became deeply anti
>poltical, obsessed with all kinds of bio metaphors, thereby taking away
>the view on what is going on in the real world of global economics 

I am always surprised at the hostility you express toward artistic
practice, while simultaneously working hard to make sure that nettime is
installed at every international art exhibition.  It's as if you want
the self-proclaimed nettime 'movement' to take over the functions
normally held by art.  And in order to do this, you have to put art
safely 'in its place', neatly tucked away in a little box.  Maybe this
is why you continuously talk about 'net art', as if it's the only
artistic practice that's going on (and by thinking that this is so shows
that you really are deeply ignorant of the diversity of artistic
practices today).  It's convenient for you to encase it in a convenient
little wrapper and denounce it.  You can then push it away from you,
installing yourself in its stead, as one of the Big Boys who is doing
the 'serious business.' 

You dismiss electronic art; you dismiss the 'conceptual art
establishment,' saying that it 'can now finally deal with slides, video
and a bit of sound here and there.' You then go on to toss out cultural
studies, even speaking of it in the past, as if it's finished.  In many
ways you seem to have to denounce everything else in order that your own
'movement' can have the starring role as the only thing that matters.
(Who really proudly includes themselves in this movement anyway, beyond
your inner circle of five?)  Seen in this light, everything that you do
in no longer done in the service of your worthy ideals, but in
increasing the power of nettime and your own role as leader.

I wrote about Nettime (as well as Syndicate, whose attitude is much more
inspiring) for a column in Artforum this month, and I really admire the
work you have done.  But what I have seen lately are not steps to expand
the effectiveness of nettime's agenda - which would entail building
productive alliances, propelling its critiques out where they can do
some good - but instead a strange kind of fortification of territorial
walls, steps to further a dogmatic agenda at the expense of anything
else that might be perceived as a 'threat' to it. 

And if art is irrelevant to understand the 'serious business' going on
in the 'real world', just what does nettime have that has more potential
to effect change?  It participates in art fairs and conferences, it has
a mailing list, it publishes.  So do a lot of artists and critics.  It
has about 600 or 700 subscribers who talk to each other.  (About the
same as the eyebeam-blast list.) Most lists have thousands, and you (we)
barely register on the radar screen of art, culture studies, and
technoculture publications (including Wired).  When it comes down to it,
we don't have any more power in the 'real world' than, say, Frieze.  And
whatever power you think you have, what good is it when it no longer
stands for inclusivity, but for exclusion?  There is room for everyone,
and art has a place alongside the political.  You seem to be now in the
company of many political 'leaders' who have attempted to supress the

What we need are alliances, and dynamic exchanges across disciplines. 
As critical cultural workers our numbers are very small in the scheme of
things.  What we need to concentrate on are ways of increasing our
voice, and this means working hard to build alliances and encouraging
each other.  We need to work hard to bring people onto the net
(including art and cultural studies communities), not complain that they
don't know enough about it.  We need respectful give and take, with an
awareness of the multiplicity of dialogues, disciplines, and positions
that make up net culture.  There is room for everyone, and everyone has
a worthy role. Taking swipes at entire disciplines, including people who
do vital and important work in the arts and cultural studies communities
is no way to increase the effectiveness of nettime, if you truly believe
in what it stands for.  It certainly does no good for any of us.

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