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<eyebeam><blast> CLOSING SUMMARY 11

<eyebeam><blast> artistic practice in the network 


Many projects have been presented in the forum, or have intertwined with
it in surprising ways. Eve Laramee's "Fissiaultian Paradigm" and "Only
Questions" projects are exemplary (see also her "Barthes Remix" of 17
April), as are Angus Trumble's vignettes of the character "Vitruvius"
and Greg Ulmer's EmerAgency (see http://www.ucet.ufl.edu/~gulmer/). 
Some have concerned inventive modes of speech, such as Clifford Duffy's
stirring poetic ruminations and the cyborgian mode of jodi.org, where
one can begin with a basic consideration such as: "what speaks?" (see
http://404.jodi.org). In this last summary I will index a few projects
that were not mentioned in the previous summaries. 

Engaging issues of telepresence, authenticity, and telescopic vision in
the network, Ken Goldberg referenced several of his telerobotic projects
at http://www.ieor.berkeley.edu/~goldberg/art/, in particular the
Telegarden and the ShadowServer, a kind of camera obscura. Very
interesting distinctions were hinted at between the telescopic vision
that Ken's work requires and the immersive constructions of VR.  Each
collapses the distance in a very different way; each positions a
different relation to space, distance, and the body; each involves a
different kind of movement. "These networked projects are telerobotic in
the sense that they claim to be based in a distant physical ('real')
environment, but none of them are immersive in the sense of VR."
Speaking of the plants in the Telegarden, Ken found that users become
highly attached to them after spending the time to plant and water them
over the net.  Does it matter to them if the site is real or not? (For,
as Ken explains, such projects can often be faked.)  "Not in all cases,
but in most: yes."

Teo Spiller presented a call for participation for his project
Megatronix - an "interactive, social critical theater" conceived as an
arcade game, where players add their own action scenes -- and a text on
"the virtual identity," which is intended as an explanation for why he
has decided to use his URL domain as a pseudonym (instead of his
personal name). "I think, we are all wearing a kind of mask through our
lives, pretending to be something else than we really are (what am I
actually?). The web is an ideal tool to present ourselves as we would
wish other people to see us; it is the perfect 'mask.'" He asks whether
the artwork can exist without knowing anything about its author, and
pushes at the border between the personal and the institutional.

Tim Jordan presented two particular Internet based projects: the IOD Web
Stalker and the MIDS Internet Weather Report. What Tim appreciates is
that these works create mappings that have an aesthetic pleasure while
also exploring the power relations of virtual lives. What he likes most
is that the two moments of analysis and pleasure are simultaneous and
co-dependent. "The Web Stalker is a Web browser, but rather than
attempting to seamlessly integrate all the Web's resources into one
multi-media experience it deliberately dissects web sites." Tim
describes it as follows. "It begins as a blank page. You then draw up to
six boxes and assign one of six functions to them. These are crawler
(connects to web-sites), map (maps links between html documents in a
site as lines to circles, the more links a circle has the brighter it
is), dismantle (maps the links between different elements-text, sound,
picture, etc. of a specific html document, also in lines and circles),
stash (a way of saving URLs), HTML stream (shows all the html language
as the crawler window reads it), and extract (shows all the text from an
URL). You can have six different windows of different sizes (your
choice) all dissecting and mapping the particular web-site you have
chosen. By clicking on the circles produced in map or dismantle you can
navigate around the web-site." Tim writes that the Web Stalker provides
a means of exploring the structure of any website, and almost by
accident, it produces fascinating pictures that seem to draw out
meaning. "Whereas the usual experience of the Web hides its underlying
structure, the Stalker's windows each bring to the surface a different
view of the Web's construction. The Stalker seems to offer a way of
drawing the particular structure (social? power? html?) of any website
and producing simultaneously 'art' and power-analysis. A friend, who
spent some time using the Stalker on the Microsoft site, claimed to have
begun to see the more important corporate connections of the website
through the mapping produced by the Stalker. He also concluded that,
ultimately, the Stalker's productions were both beautiful and
pointless." [See http://www.backspace.org/iod] (Rachel Greene later
wrote on how the Web Stalker won the "Mr. Net Art" contest this year.)

The MIDS Internet Weather Report (IWR), Tim continues, is an attempt to
measure and map flows of data on the Internet. "It uses a particular
command (PING) to send messages to different computers and then record
the time it takes for the message to be returned. It then maps these
varying lengths of time over the geographical location of the relevant
computers. Both the number of hosts and the latency (time a ping takes)
of Internet traffic are visible as colored circles laid over maps. The
final product is a series of maps that measure changes in the speed of
Internet connections, usually over a day. MIDS then produces short
animations for a number of geographical regions in which the data storms
can be followed as they rise with the sun and fall with night." The IWR
allows both the varying nature of the Internet and its geographical
distribution to be mapped. As with the Stalker, Tim continues, the
underlying structure of the Internet is made visible via pictures, but
unlike the Stalker, the IWR was never intended to produce "art." "The
IWR produces little maps of power both social and technological; where
are the data flows? Which regions remain unmarked by data sun or data
rain? Ultimately, like the Stalker, IWR seem both beautiful and a little
pointless. Who needs to be told that data is thickest and the Internet
slowest during the developed world's working hours?"

Gilane Tawadros summarized two projects, by Keith Piper and Simon
Tegala. "Keith started as a painter but swiftly moved into collage,
video and installation work and now multimedia. These shifts in form are
linked directly to the content of Keith's work.  As a black British
artist, he has found the disjunctive, fragmented, layered and dissonant
attributes of multimedia the ideal format for addressing questions of
contingent. layered histories and the diasporan experience." [See
http://www.iniva.org] Simon Tegala's project, she explains, had its
beginnings during the Gulf War when the artist "reflected upon the
impact of new technology and, in particular, the relay of events and
images 'live' into our homes from different parts of he globe, virtually
as soon as they occur." Gilane explains that for a period of two weeks,
Tegala was wired to a personal heart rate monitor for 24 hours a day. 
The signal from the heart rate monitor was then transmitted digitally,
via mobile phone, to the electronic sign. "The piece was an eloquent
investigation of some of the issues which have been discussed on this
list over the past few weeks, addressing as it did the relationship
between individual experience and public communication systems. The most
important question posed by this artwork," Gilane continues, "was the
thorny issue of collective responsibility and critical interrogation of
new media.  When the images of 'precise' target bombings were beamed
into our homes, how many of us questioned the precision of this new
technology or considered the effects of this anonymous technology on
individual (and invisible) lives?" [See http://www.iniva.org/anabiosis]

Ursula Biemann wrote on her project "Just Watch," where media workers
(rather than artists per se) were invited to discuss media
representation in terms of identity politics as well as means of
production and dissemination. Preparing the project got her on the net
for the first time. "The call for entries, be it videos or presentations
for the symposium, was sent out via e-mail to global women and media
organizations who then forwarded the message to their listed members.
Within 3 days the message was read by about 10,000 people." From a
curatorial perspective, Ursula explains, this presented her with new
challenges. "In a traditional form of curating, we approach artists who
are known to the curator, recommended by other institutions or read
about in established art magazines. Here, it turned out that the media
producers, artists and academics we got introduced to came from places
we didn't even know where to find on the map. We were in for a
surprise." Two Russian women were invited from South Caucasus who made
their way to Zurich. Ursula explains that "The gap between the
terminologies was quite impressive which raised the question whether we
all need to agree on the terms of a discourse in order to participate in
it, to participate in a forum like Just Watch or eyebeam. Do we need to
agree on the latest position of gender theory with women who have been
introduced to feminism in 1991?" Connections were made between media
strategies and the political, socio-cultural and economic conditions of
particular geographies. "Media producers find themselves precisely at
the interface between transnational territory of the global civil
society, as Saskia Sassen says, and the work conditions defined by the
local media landscape and political climate of their site of production.
So questions of locality become vital." Ursula gives an example of these
contexts of production. "Womedia in Manila made many compromises with
the people in power from Marco's through Corazon Aquino's governmental
periods to stay on the air. In other places, access to the television
channels is out of the question, some producers make TV-quality
programming on issues like AIDS or women's medicinal knowledge in India
and produce activist tapes on the side which are distributed in the
narrow-casting mode, i.e. screening tapes out in the communities." In
more than one case, "events that were neglected by mainstream public
affairs programs were taped by some independent video makers and later
sold countless times to the stations because it was the only material
available." Examples include tapes of Indian women chasing the military
off their land, or Salman Rushdie's book burnings in Britain. [See

Geert Lovink wrote on his work with nettime. "In 1995 we have set up a
mailing list called 'nettime' which is more like a movement  then just a
cyber-virtual-digital dialogue. We are all, in one way or another,
involved in the building up of a public, non/low commercial, independent
infrastructures for artists, activists and theorists. This means that
our 'criticism' is rooted in alternative practices (at least, that is
what we are trying). We are organizing meetings -- in real life -- and
publications (the so-called 'zkps')." [See
http://www.factory.org/nettime and http://www.desk.nl/~nettime]

Wolfgang Staehle talked about his work with The Thing, which is a model
of an artist-run, economically self sufficient network project that has
"so far resisted the onslaught of cultural homogenization brought to you
by the likes as AOL, Disney, Time Warner and the rest of the lot." [See

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