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<eyebeam><blast> CLOSING STATEMENT

"Finding an entry point into these discussions is not an easy thing,"
Myron Turner wrote on 25 February, "since they tend to have the easy
informality of email, a hypertext-like associativity, a kind of
structured unstructuring that has enabled interveners to move fluidly
between the personal and the theoretical, from the formalism of
structured thought to the tentative, untried thought spoken as an aside,
and from idea to thing and often so engagingly to place."  

For these reasons and more, it is also difficult finding a way to close.
How do we summarize these proceedings, and take them to the next stage
in the development of <eyebeam><blast>?

The day before Myron's message, Gilane Tawadros wrote that nobody is
really talking about art in the forum. Bracha Lichtenberg-Ettinger
replied that she, for the moment, "hears almost nothing else but a
talking about art." What does Bracha mean? She continues by describing a
kind of filtering and distribution process that she employs.  Like
Gilane, she is not interested in the technology aspects of the
discussion (and also, "taking all in would be disturbing"), so she
filters technological considerations out, lets them develop "beside"
her, and then finds ways of facilitating re-encounters of these
developments in shared spaces.  Though she does not usually employ
computational metaphors, her process evokes a distributed processing
environment, and a mode of cognition that is preparing itself for the
complex, accelerated, layered environments generated through new
communications networks.  In this sense, it's interesting to see this
forum as a kind of practice for navigating/negotiating these new systems
and spaces, which insinuate themselves in cognition and advance toward
the urban.

Carlos Basualdo, citing Bracha's models, saw this forum in the context
of "a particular way of self-organizing that seems to be proper to the
medium: open dialogues that branch into more dialogues and then retrieve
to some nucleus in order to branch again.  Voices coincide and diverge,
come and go, and whole paragraphs migrate from one voice to another
losing track of their possible origins."

What is at stake is the ability to juggle and process these strands of
discourse, forge links, and generate historical continuities within a
context of art that is rapidly expanding (everyone is an artist today)
or disappearing, depending on how you look at it.  This forum has
addressed some of the tools we require for critical aesthetic and
cultural interventions in the network. Perhaps these tools are first and
foremost those that help to manage proliferating streams of information,
allowing us to coexist in dense, complex, fluctuating, multimediated
environments. There is no turning back. What new models can we develop
for processing these discourses, for multitasking, for maintaining
multiple presences, for developing new connections and continuities? In
one way or another, the question is one that everyone confronts today. 

What do we need to know in order to develop strategies for an engaged
artistic or cultural practice in the network?  According to Eve Laramee,
we have asked 1068 questions during the three months of the forum. How
many have we answered? 

I hope that we have made a strong assertion of the relevance of artistic
practice at this moment in network culture. I hope that we have helped
to challenge artists, critics, curators, and media practitioners to aim
for a broader understanding of the network and its conditions.  I hope
that we have shown the need for progressive critical and articulatory
formats, which are historically-engaged and actively confronting the
workings of the culture industry. I hope that we have expressed the need
for working hard to develop complex cultural articulations rather than
simply rounding up the usual net pundits. I hope that we have opened
some productive channels between that microcosm called the art world and
broader, more engaged fields of cultural practice. And finally, I hope
that we have begun some productive discussions of the kinds of
institutions that are needed to encourage and account for this new work,
especially in terms of their relation to history and to the lived
reality of the urban. 

In closing, I have chosen to write 11 summaries.  What I hope to engage
in these closing summaries are the areas of the forum that seem to have
become attractors of sorts, concentrations of energy.  They tell a
story, and in this sense I first thought of them chapters.  But such
metaphors -- as well as those borrowed from academic conferences and
print media -- are truly at odds with what he have. What we have are
much more complex formations.  They register not only multiple voices,
perspectives, and positions, but are complex registers of the lives of
participants as they have interlaced with this discursive-urban space
over the last three months. 

They include Tglatz, writing from a 16 x 24 foot cabin with wood heat
and no running water in northern Alaska; Eve Laramee, writing from the
edge of Brooklyn, immersed in strata of books, papers, slides, disks,
clippings, tapes, calendars, cords, and wires; Greg Ulmer, from axes not
so geographically logical; Alan Sondheim, from his temporary exile in
Japan (and "the great fear that there is nothing to return to");
Clifford Duffy, from Montreal ("ice storms...massacred
trees...price-gouging...virtual worlds..."); Lisa Hutton, from a house
with wind-sensitive electricity; E Sayeg, from Brazil ("self:
hypertext"); Teo Spiller, from Slovenia ("I was a soldier..."); Linda
Rogers, from the cusp of Niagra Falls, where the earth shakes from the
falling waters; Waltraud Schwab, from Berlin, whose computer crashed the
night the Berlin wall came down ("I thought it was because the air was
magnetic, tense, electric..."); Brian Holmes, immersed in a time of
political passion in France, when people are talking of collective
questions, the res publica ("The entire complex of social problems
stemming from deindustrialization is coming to a head, while the new
round of world-wide technological and organizational change,
crystallized in the constitution of a neoliberal Europe, touches
everyone in their daily habits, their work, their relations, their
values, their sensorium." In the "globalized world of electronic
communication, the networks of solidarity have to become vast, as vast
as the networks of normalization and control, while remaining attached
to some socially located practice where invention can meet embodied
history."); and Carla Sinclair, from Sri Lanka, who wrote on the last
day of the forum that the eyebeam community has become a part of her
everyday life. "The words that have been shared, the emotions, the
meetings the stimulation & the community created, are never forgotten &
ever appreciated." She is not alone in saying that she will miss the
social life this list has given.  

The summaries that follow constitute a kind of travelogue, a stream of
encounters, movements, localisms, thoughts, ambitions, lived realities. 
I regret that I have to flatten them out and wedge them into a summary
format that is very much at odds with the ways in which they have been
produced and activated.  It seems a kind of violence.  The summaries are
therefore necessarily incomplete, and they do not make consistent
arguments or draw conclusions. They represent only one possible journey
through the forum. I regret that it is not possible to reference every
post and to include every participant. Many discussion threads are
omitted.  I hope that this will not be taken in any way as suggesting
that they are not relevant.  What I have produced here is a temporary
"regrouping" (Carlos: "to retrieve...in order to branch again") -- not
in any way a final summary, but a series of drafts that will be helpful
in order to take this material to the next stages. These stages include
a public symposium in New York this November and a published book of the
proceedings, to be released in 1999.  My drafts are only tools for
further study, which will involve a much more careful reading and
editing of the entire volume of posts.

The interactions here have been lively, contestatory, enthusiastic, and
generous on all counts.  Many of us have encountered one another for the
first time; others are friends and acquaintances who have returned here
from the documenta discussions.  I am sure that many of us will return
again when we reactivate this space, in the next incarnation of Blast.
We will be in touch with you to let you know when that will be. It will
be soon.

On behalf of the X Art Foundation, Eyebeam Atelier, and our forum hosts,
I would like to thank you for your presence and participation here over
the past three months.  We are very grateful for the time and energy you
have spent in the <eyebeam><blast> forum.  We will miss you.  We will
meet again.  


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