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A Newer Use of Media

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0021339/00001

Material Information

Title: A Newer Use of Media Reevaluating New Media with Usership
Physical Description: 1 online resource (69 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Warner, Justin Ross
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2007

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: art, communal, community, institutional, interaction, media, new, participation, usership, virtual
Art and Art History -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Art History thesis, M.A.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: The majority of literature on New Media confines networked art (typically Net Art, or art on the Internet) to a small subcategory outside of a larger body of a spectacularized object-based New Media. When reevaluating New Media by way of its ability to interact with or evoke sincere participation from users, the majority of artistic aims and intent do not appear to be conceptually innovative in their ability to communicate. Successful New Media must prove itself different from Old Media, or mass media, by engaging social relations, which Old Media neglected. Therefore, successful New Media art must strive to evolve the viewers of earlier spectatorship models of art into users through a heightened dimension of participation. Although many theories offer divisions of types of New Media art, the only way to determine whether an artwork belongs to the genre of New Media is to ascertain whether a user merely responds to some form of digitally constructed content, or actually communicates with other users (human beings) in a socially affective manner. Some theorists contest references to New Media art as a specific medium or category like video art, because it can include any form of audiovisual media or medium especially when presented over the Internet. But more importantly than distinguishing the various media represented on the Net, is the way in which they are used in tandem with the Net?s networking capabilities to facilitate social interaction. In opposition to the older delivery systems of cultural spaces, the Internet can be used as New Media via interaction that encourages the work to continually change with communal input. But works on the Net can also be appropriated into Old Media if unilaterally dispersed as authored content. Simply put, only works using the Net can facilitate a sincere model of usership, and thus only works on the Net should be considered New Media. Yet because any medium can exist on the Net, Old Media works without any sense of usership and critically mistaken for New Media are unfortunately just as prevalent on the Net as they are in museums and galleries. The history of art offers many examples of earlier attempts to bring a social dimension to art, but when distributing artistic content through unidirectional distribution systems the facilitation of a communal art process is restricted. The Net allows for both the user?s interaction and the interaction of other users to be experienced simultaneously in virtual space. This is the only new aspect of New Media.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Justin Ross Warner.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2007.
Local: Adviser: Alberro, Alexander.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2007
System ID: UFE0021339:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0021339/00001

Material Information

Title: A Newer Use of Media Reevaluating New Media with Usership
Physical Description: 1 online resource (69 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Warner, Justin Ross
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2007

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: art, communal, community, institutional, interaction, media, new, participation, usership, virtual
Art and Art History -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Art History thesis, M.A.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: The majority of literature on New Media confines networked art (typically Net Art, or art on the Internet) to a small subcategory outside of a larger body of a spectacularized object-based New Media. When reevaluating New Media by way of its ability to interact with or evoke sincere participation from users, the majority of artistic aims and intent do not appear to be conceptually innovative in their ability to communicate. Successful New Media must prove itself different from Old Media, or mass media, by engaging social relations, which Old Media neglected. Therefore, successful New Media art must strive to evolve the viewers of earlier spectatorship models of art into users through a heightened dimension of participation. Although many theories offer divisions of types of New Media art, the only way to determine whether an artwork belongs to the genre of New Media is to ascertain whether a user merely responds to some form of digitally constructed content, or actually communicates with other users (human beings) in a socially affective manner. Some theorists contest references to New Media art as a specific medium or category like video art, because it can include any form of audiovisual media or medium especially when presented over the Internet. But more importantly than distinguishing the various media represented on the Net, is the way in which they are used in tandem with the Net?s networking capabilities to facilitate social interaction. In opposition to the older delivery systems of cultural spaces, the Internet can be used as New Media via interaction that encourages the work to continually change with communal input. But works on the Net can also be appropriated into Old Media if unilaterally dispersed as authored content. Simply put, only works using the Net can facilitate a sincere model of usership, and thus only works on the Net should be considered New Media. Yet because any medium can exist on the Net, Old Media works without any sense of usership and critically mistaken for New Media are unfortunately just as prevalent on the Net as they are in museums and galleries. The history of art offers many examples of earlier attempts to bring a social dimension to art, but when distributing artistic content through unidirectional distribution systems the facilitation of a communal art process is restricted. The Net allows for both the user?s interaction and the interaction of other users to be experienced simultaneously in virtual space. This is the only new aspect of New Media.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Justin Ross Warner.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2007.
Local: Adviser: Alberro, Alexander.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2007
System ID: UFE0021339:00001


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03813b72ff9ca15329c685fd50159603c1a9fc70







A NEWER USE OF MEDIA: REEVALUATING NEW MEDIA WITH USERSHIP


By

JUSTIN R. WARNER















A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2007






































O 2007 Justin R. Warner











TABLE OF CONTENTS


page

AB S TRAC T ..... ._ ................. ............_........4


CHAPTER

1 INTRODUCTION: USER SHIP AS NEW USE FOR MEDIA .............. .....................


The Early Net and the Call for Community............... ...............8
Incompatibility with Institutional Space ....._ .....___ .........__ ...........1
Reevaluating New Media .............. ...............12....

2 AN EARLIER RIFT BETWEEN COMMUNAL AND INSTITUTIONAL ART................ 13


3 NEW OBJECTS FOR OLD SPACES ............_........... ...............18..


Formalism of the Database ............... ......_ ...............22..
Digital Environments for Non-digital Spaces............... ...............25.
New Media Restricting Technological Advancement ......____ ..... ... ._ ..........._....27
Technological Amusement Parks .............. ...............32....

4 CLOSING THE NETWORK .............. ...............35....


Network as Installation .............. .... .. ..._ ....... ..__ ............3
Institutional Presence on the Net: Curating Virtual Space .............. ...............43....

5 BECOMING NEW' MEDIA ............ ..... .__ ...............49..


New Criteria for Judgment .............. ...............53....
Contributing to the Virtual Whole .............. ...............54....
"New" W orthy .............. ... ......_ ...............56....
An Old Conclusion for a New Art............... ...............63..


LIST OF REFERENCES ............ ..... .__ ...............66...


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .............. ...............69....









Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts

A NEWER USE OF MEDIA: REEVALUATING NEW MEDIA WITH USERSHIP

By

Justin R. Warner

December 2007

Chair: Alexander Alberro
Maj or: Art History

The maj ority of literature on New Media confines networked art (typically Net Art, or art

on the Internet) to a small subcategory outside of a larger body of a spectacularized object-based

New Media. When reevaluating New Media by way of its ability to interact with or evoke

sincere participation from users, the maj ority of artistic aims and intent do not appear to be

conceptually innovative in their ability to communicate. Successful New Media must prove itself

different from Old Media, or mass media, by engaging social relations, which Old Media

neglected. Therefore, successful New Media art must strive to evolve the viewers of earlier

spectatorship models of art into users through a heightened dimension of participation. Although

many theories offer divisions of types of New Media art, the only way to determine whether an

artwork belongs to the genre of New Media is to ascertain whether a user merely responds to

some form of digitally constructed content, or actually communicates with other users (human

beings) in a socially affective manner.

Some theorists contest references to New Media art as a specific medium or category like

video art, because it can include any form of audiovisual media or medium especially when

presented over the Internet. But more importantly than distinguishing the various media

represented on the Net, is the way in which they are used in tandem with the Net' s networking










capabilities to facilitate social interaction. In opposition to the older delivery systems of cultural

spaces, the Internet can be used as New Media via interaction that encourages the work to

continually change with communal input. But works on the Net can also be appropriated into Old

Media if unilaterally dispersed as authored content. Simply put, only works using the Net can

facilitate a sincere model of usership, and thus only works on the Net should be considered New

Media. Yet because any medium can exist on the Net, Old Media works without any sense of

usership and critically mistaken for New Media are unfortunately just as prevalent on the Net as

they are in museums and galleries. The history of art offers many examples of earlier attempts to

bring a social dimension to art, but when distributing artistic content through unidirectional

distribution systems the facilitation of a communal art process is restricted. The Net allows for

both the user' s interaction and the interaction of other users to be experienced simultaneously in

virtual space. This is the only new aspect of New Media.









CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION: USERSHIP AS NEW USE FOR MEDIA

If the spectacle, taken in the limited sense of "mass media" which are its most glaring
superficial manifestation, seems to invade society as mere equipment, this equipment is
in no way neutral but is the very means suited to its total self-movement. If the social
needs of the epoch in which such techniques are developed can only be satisfied through
their mediation, if the administration of this society and all contact among men can no
longer take place except through the intermediary of this power of instantaneous
communication, it is because this "communication" is essentially unilateral.

-Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle

Even now the contemporary art world continues to demand a resuscitation of a linear

progression of art and its history. This philosophical demand for a constant developmental

"newness" for art loses more and more relevance with each decade since Modernism. Luckily for

those who profit from an art based on newness, "New Media" can add seemingly new

technological features to old art obj ects. The luxury art obj ect of old now shines brighter in the

age of HDTV and might even walk, talk, or offer new digital worlds. The common presumption

that all New Media allegedly interact in some technologically rudimentary way seems to mask

the many attempts at using New Media to serve as a new movement or style for the old art

obj ect. By examining the theories of what exactly constitutes the categorization of New Media, it

becomes quite clear that not all art under this nomenclature share a similar "newness." Simply

digitizing the art obj ect with basic computing functions to guarantee its survival, along with the

institutions that house it, surely is not the signifier of New Media's revolutionary status. Instead,

successful New Media must prove itself different from Old Media (mass media) by facilitating

social interactions, which Old Media neglected. Therefore, successful New Media art must strive




SGuy Debord, Society of the Spectacle. (Detroit: Black & Red, 1983), Paragraph 24.










to evolve the viewers of earlier spectatorship models of art into users through a heightened

dimension of participation.

Most promising in their pursuit of participation, or usership, are the New Media works

that rely on open communication, or networking, to produce the actual art (to the extent that the

work is in constant flux based on communal input). The artistic communication, or networked

art, produced on the Internet functions in a way that contests art' s history of treating artworks as

Einalized obj ects. The beginning of the twenty-first century is described by Nicolas Bourriaud as

an age of "postproduction," where art must disregard the formalist demand for newer/purer art

under the direction of Greenbergian modernism, and instead function as an "editing table,"

reorganizing earlier forms.2 Postproductive art relies heavily on reproducibility, and it is

reproducibility that most threatens a formal continuation from modernism within contemporary

art. Because reproducibility and postproduction are essentially a recycling process, the art is the

process of reorganizing and re-presenting these recycled forms as opposed to creating yet

another art obj ect proclaimed an original.

Some theorists contest references to New Media art as a specific medium or category like

video art, because it can include any form of audiovisual media or medium especially when

presented over the Internet. But more importantly than distinguishing the various media

represented on the Net, is the way in which they are used in tandem with the Net' s networking

capabilities. New Media' s use of various mediums/medias on the Net can either facilitate a

process of communication or distribute a more Einalized/authored statement. In other words, the

Net can be used as New Media via interaction that encourages the work to change with


2 Nicolas Bourriad, Postproduction: Culture as Screenplay: How Art Reprograms the World. (New York: Lukas &
Sternberg, 2002), 72.









communal input or can be appropriated into Old Media via a unilateral dispersal of authored

content. Although many theories offer divisions of types of New Media art, the only way to

determine whether an artwork belongs to the genre of New Media is to ascertain whether a user

merely responds to some form of digitally constructed content, or actually communicates with

other users (human beings) in a socially affective manner. Simply put, only works using the Net

can facilitate a sincere model of usership, and thus only works on the Net should be considered

New Media. Yet because any medium can exist on the Net, Old Media works without any sense

of usership and mistaken for New Media are unfortunately just as prevalent on the Net as they

are in museums and galleries.

Older art movements like Fluxus and Mail Art sought conceptual aims similar to that of

usership. Even before computers became publicly networked, non-electronic networks existed

within these movements as well. In these proj ects the communications between those involved in

art-based networks became the actual art, with few or no representative objects. So how is New

Media networked art different from the older network art of Mail Art by artists like Ray

Johnson? The answer is again one of communication. Because both Mail Art and New Media are

both based on processes of communication neither require any specific physical space. Yet

whereas Mail Art would have a singular participant receiving visual communication and then

contributing to that visual message before sending it onto another singular receiver, New Media

allow for the visual message to morph in real time so that all users simultaneously affect the

work in a communal sense. This is the only "new" aspect of New Media art.

The Early Net and the Call for Community

The demand for participation/usership within the realm of New Media art arose at the

time of its inception. When public usage of the Internet and the Web began to boom in the 1990s










a socially conscious art reemerged that Bourriad labeled "relational" art, with "relational

aesthetics" serving as the basis for its evaluation. Bourriad states:

The possibility of a relational art (an art taking as its theoretical horizon the realm of
human interactions and its social context, rather than the assertion of an independent and
private symbolic space), points to a radical upheaval of the aesthetic, cultural and
political goals introduced by modern art.3

Therefore, relational art not only refuses the formalist progression of modernism, but also rej ects

the physical spaces that were necessary to house an art of obj ects. Because relational art depends

more on exchange and interaction than formalist qualities, its existence is never finite or

restricted, but instead constantly changing depending upon continued interaction with its

audience. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri philosophically locate this characteristic as the

"immeasurable."4 They aver that "[t]he omnilateral expansiveness of the power to act

demonstrates the ontological basis of transvaluation, that is, its capacity not only to destroy the

values that descend from the transcendental realm of measure but also to create new values."'

The new value that comes from the immeasurable and also coincides with Bourriad's relational

aesthetics is that of constructing community. The power to do so, according to Hardt and Negri,

rests on the "multitude," which is opposed by the imperial power of government that seeks to

disrupt it. 6 So then, if Bourriad offers a relational art that mirrors the multitude's proj ect of

community, there must too be a socially restrictive art that perpetuates imperial power's

disruption of community (most likely by disrupting communication). These two camps blatantly

compete in the realm of New Media. Within the 1990s a shift in perception towards the


3 Nicolas Bourriad, Relational aesthetics, trans. Simon Pleasance & Fronza Woods with Mathieu Copeland.
(France: Les presses du rdel, 2002), 14.
SThomas Hardt and Antonio Negri. Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000), 355.

5Hardt/Negri, 359.

6 Ibid, 360.









communicative capabilities of the Internet occurred, which highlighted a censuring of the

multitude's ability to act. Christiane Paul states:

The commercial colonialization of the Internet and the ensuing "dot com" craze and
demise, now commonly associated with the WWW, began only in the late 1990s, and art
on the Internet is in many ways characterized by the tension between the philosophy of
the free information space and the proximity to a commercial context.'

As a result of this colonialization, New Media' s hope for community within the Net seemed less

and less realistic and the gallery space once again seemed like a better venue for a

commercialized techno art void of social interactivity. Shortly after this loss of hope emerged an

abundance of New Media theories that dropped discussion over the democratic use of new

communication technologies and limited references to open networks.

Incompatibility with Institutional Space

Institutionalized cultural spaces seek an interaction dependent upon the necessity of their

specific site, which negates an open network and retards the construction of community. The

type of New Media favored by institutional spaces retains a user-to-object model of

communication, as opposed to user-to other users. Genuinely participatory work being produced

on the Internet separates itself from a museum or gallery setting in order to evoke artistic

communication in a free and open space that adheres to no institutionally ideological boundaries.

The old institutional practice of educating the public does not justify the inclusion of New Media

that use usership to build community into institutional spaces. Because genuine New Media

based on usership communally connects users beyond physical spaces, to force that virtual

community into a physical space seems like a strange anthropological attempt to sensationalize

Internet culture. In successful New Media the artist' s role is to create easily accessible and

understandable creative communication that does not require any curatorial explanation. Artists

SChristiane Paul. DigitalArt, (London: Thames & Hudson, 2003),112.










now must take on the role of educator by teaching their art of process to the public of virtual

space. Therefore, the only part of New Media that could be related to the public by the institution

would be the link to the virtual site of communal interaction. Obviously putting a URL inside of

a museum makes little to no sense. Unless the institutional space functions at a level of simply

supplying connected computers for users to choose projects to participate in, the agenda is most

likely to direct interaction to a specific site, or proj ect, promoting the institution' s interests.

Andreas Broeckmann exemplifies the "worst case scenario" of curatorial efforts to appropriate

Net art into the institutional site with the WWW part of the Documenta X art exhibition in

Kassel/Germany in 1997." Broeckmann references the exhibition' s Web proj ects as "running

offline and in a sad grey-and-white pseudo-office," and warns, "Do this if you want to prevent

your audience from understanding what network art might be about."9 Better advice would be to

disregard any curatorial efforts that might appropriate networked communication into an

installation that is dependent upon physical space in which to exhibit and distort the work.

New Media' s place outside of the museum and gallery is not necessarily an institutional

critique itself. Unlike Michael Asher' s 1974 removal of a wall at the Claire Copley Gallery in

Los Angeles, which was meant to open up a dealer' s office for "public scrutiny,"lo the

communal project of New Media should exist completely outside of any institutional space. New

Media based on connectivity and interaction offers neither good nor bad publicity to the

institutional space, as it simply thrives beyond its walls. Of course, imperial walls always attract



SAndreas Broeckmann, "Are You Online? Presence and Participation in Network Art," Ars Electronica: Facing the
Future: A Survey of nI Decades, ed. Timothy Druckrey with Ars Electronica (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999), 439.

9 Broeckmann, 439.

'0 Craig Owens, "From Work to Frame, or, Is There Life After "The Death of the Author?"," BeyondE.... ~-,,r, r
Representation, Power, and Culture, eds. Scott Bryson, Babara Kruger, Lynne Tillman, and Jane Weinstock.
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), 133-4.









the most attention, and so the only real "new" media based on social networking is usually

drowned out by the wave of technologically overwhelming, or spectacularized, digital works that

function well within an institutional framework. This theoretically populist form of New Media

inj ects unilateral communication, or machine code, between human and machine, that contains

premeditated/authored responses for users. But works using old media's unilateral model of

authorship (similar to that of Modemism) are not truly New Media in their directorial use of

interaction. This does not suggest an eradication of the artist' s role, but simply changes it from a

practice of authoring to one of facilitating. The artist' s role could not be more pivotal at this time

to offer an alternative to old media' s system of mass distributive communication.

Reevaluating New Media

The following will serve as an examination of the many forms that fall under the guise of

New Media in order to address where participation is either a genuine concern or a strategically

restrictive form of user-to-obj ect communication. The maj ority of literature on New Media

confines networked art (typically Net Art, or art on the Intemet) to a small subcategory outside

of a larger body of a spectacularized type of New Media. But here the most theoretically

referenced New Media work will be reevaluated primarily by way of its ability to interact with or

evoke sincere participation from users. The seemingly all-inclusive category of New Media will

be dismantled to show that a maj ority of artistic aims and intent within the New Media genre are

not conceptually innovative and are in fact quite limited in their ability to communicate in new

ways. The chapters that follow will track a progression from questionable New Media with a

limited sense of usership to the best current examples of what can truly be considered new uses

of media and technology in art.












CHAPTER 2
AN EARLIER RIFT BETWEEN COMMUNAL AND INSTITUTIONAL ART

In this age of museums, when artistic communication can no longer exist, all the former
moments of art can be admitted equally, because they no longer suffer from the loss of
their specific conditions of communication in the current general loss of conditions of
communication.

-Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle

Although communally networked New Media functions as the only contemporary new

use of media, comparisons must be made with the older network art circulating through the mail

before artistic communication could begin to travel digitally through wires. More than two

decades before public accessibility to the Internet emerged, the mail offered an escape from the

museum/gallery space with a system for both artistic distribution and interaction. When Ray

Johnson' s New York Correspondance School was started in 1962, its network-based affiliation

opposed the institutionally favored formalism of Modernism. One of Minimalism' s main

producers and theorists, Robert Morris, describes the intended experience of the Minimalist

work:

One is more aware than before that he himself is establishing relationships as he
apprehends the obj ect from various positions and under varying conditions of light and
spatial context. Every internal relationship, whether it be set up by a structural division, a
rich surface, or what have you, reduces the public, external quality of the obj ect and tends
to eliminate the viewer to the degree that these details pull him into an intimate relation
with the work and out of the space in which the obj ect exists. 2

This "internal relationship" then exists only between the individual, the art obj ect, and the space

that is housing it. Therefore, according to Morris, the Minimalist art obj ect functions to transcend

the viewer from the public aspect of the museum, or gallery space. Of course, in opposition to

SDebord, Society, Paragraph 189.

2 Robert Morris, "Notes on Sculpture, Part 2," Continuous Project Altered Daily: The ;T er, p~ ofRobert~orris
(Cambridge: MIT Press, 1993), 15.










the emerging practice of Mail Art, Minimalism demanded institutional spaces due to the site-

specific nature of its larger, industrialized art obj ects. Alexander Alberro locates a specific

instance of a museum' s attempt to preserve the "obj ect-oriented lexicon of the New York avant-

garde" with the display and organization of the Sixth Guggenheim International Exhibition of

1971.3 He states that "by requesting that the artists invited to participate produce a site-specific

work which used the context of display as a point of departure, the Museum linked the artworks

in the International with an artistic practice closely identified with Minimalism."4 The link

between Minimalism and site specificity, which clearly favored the institutional interests of

museums, offered not only a progression of formalist practices, but also the need for a physical

space to fulfill the art obj ects' transcendental needs. Site specificity, or at least institutional

specificity, and identifiable authorship are needs of the institution (as much today as in the

1960s), as they both serve its market-driven needs. Art historian Anna C. Chave, commenting on

Minimalist art practice, states, "Though the artists depersonalized their modes of production to

the furthest extent, they would not surrender the financial and other prerogatives of authorship,

including those of establishing authenticity."' Even if the artistic process seemed more closely

aligned to the operations of a factory, the factory manager' s name deemed it art for the

institution.


It would be historically inaccurate to suggest that Mail Art, such as that of the NYC S,

always offered the same open and communally action-oriented participation called for today by


3 Alexander Alberro, "The Turn of the Screw: Daniel Duren, Dan Flavin, and the Sixth Guggenheim International
Exhibition," October Vol. 80 (Spring, 1997), 65.
4Ibid.

SAnna C. Chave, "Minimalism and the Rhetoric of Power." 4rts Magazine Vol. 64, (Jan. 1990), 55.










Hardt/Negri and Bourriad. According to art critic Arthur Danto, The Correspondance School's

letters "often ornamented by simple drawings or by stick-ons, usually instructed the recipient to

perform some fairly simple action."6 Such authoritative directions (also found on many artistic

websites today) were communicating through a form of authorship that limited artistic outcomes.

As long as the communication and the network are being directed, the artist continues working in

a modernist sense of art production. Danto tracks a particular instance regarding the artist Ida

Apllebroog: "Applebroog had an address list, but she did not have a network. The booklets were,

so to speak, self-advertisements, giving her a way of getting recognition until her work was

accepted by a gallery."' Therefore, by refusing the networking capabilities of Mail Art, the artist

was retaining Modernism's formal demand for an art obj ect, as opposed to an art of

communication. Thus, certain Mail artists were more concerned with the formal qualities of their

work than conceptual ideals of communication in their pursuit of representation in the gallery

space. In an interview with the artist Anna Freud Banana, Craig Saper challenged her term postal



Recently, you coined the phrase postal art to describe networks that limit exchanges to
group members and stress the high quality and professional craft in their work. The
emphasis in those works is not on networking and making connections.8

The professionalism and craftiness of such postal work alludes to a supposed network art

dismantling into separable aesthetic objects, again embraces institutional strategies for

appropnation.




6 Arthur Danto, "Ray Johnson," The Madonna of the Future: Essays in a Phiralistic 4rt World (New York: Farrar,
Straus and Giroux, 2000), 363.

SDanto, 365.

SCraig Saper, "Networked Psychoanalysis: A Dialogue with Anna Freud Banana," 4t a Distance: Precursors to 4rt
and activism on the Internet, eds. Annmarie Chandler, and Norie Neumark (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005), 257.










In "The Mail Art Exhibition: Personal Worlds to Cultural Strategies," John Held, Jr.

emphasizes the importance of the earlier Mail Art network system functioning outside of

institutional production and more within the realm of open space. In referring to the conceptual

aims of network art he states, "The vitality of the network is not the products produced within it,

or its function as breeding ground for emerging artists, but in the maintenance of its open

structure."9 Yet even when the intention of art through the mail was artistic communication, it

often seemed less of a truly open network. Ken Friedman, in "The Early Days of Mail Art,"

divides the NYCS under Johnson's direction into two primary phases--one of a closed network,

and one of a worldwide public network. Friedman makes the distinction:


Many of Johnson' s best-known works are the numerous lovely, dense printed collages in
which he specifically used the names of "members" of the NYCS, occasionally adding or
dropping names. These seemed to point inward to a closed circle. This is not to say that it
was bad: it' s simply the way it was. In the first phase of correspondence art, the paradigm
blossomed, flourished and found most of its major practitioners. In the second phase,
correspondence art turned outward to the world. 10

A closed network (as in the first phase) becomes more manageable in terms of locating

contributors and themes for representation within gallery exhibitions. The smaller the network,

the easier it becomes to fragment it into a production of group authorship, retaining art-obj ect

stature through installation-based representations suited for institutional use.

Also similar to the practice of art on the Internet, art through the mail did not necessarily

seek out any intentions of networking at all. In some instances works being aligned with the

movement of Mail Art merely relied on mail as a distribution system for older artistic mediums.

These were attempts of artists, specifically those in Eastern Europe, to get works to the United


9 JOhn Held, Jr., "The Mail Art Exhibition: Personal Worlds to Cultural Strategies," 4t a Distance: Precursors to 4rt
and activism on the Internet, eds. Annmarie Chandler and Norie Neumark (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005), 102.

'o Ken Friedman, "The Early Days of Mail Art: An Historical Overview," Eternal Network: 4 Mail 4rt ivia. I
ed. Chuck Welch (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1995), 5.










States, by using the mail to send drawings, photographs, and the like.ll The same practice occurs

today over the Internet, as it offers the same ability as mail to simply deliver artistic content with

no intention of networking, or any other artistic involvement with the medium other than

utilizing its ability to distribute. New Media critic Andreas Broeckmann differentiates an "art in

the net" that is "germane to the medium" from an "art on the net," which is simply the display of

2-D artworks, such as photographs on the Internet. 12

Thus, while Minimalism sought out institutional spaces for site-specific interests based

on personal and intimate relations between viewer and art obj ect, the Mail Art of the NYC S

sought to establish an art outside of the institution with an art based on communication.

However, Mail Art held its own internal divide between an art of facilitating a publicly open

network and an exploitive art of authorship and clandestine motives for facilitating institutional

appropriation. These competing interests for art in the 1960s preface those of New Media. But

whatever the medium, the conceptual practice of facilitating creative communication as an art of

process was as limited in the 1960s as it is today.



















11 Friedman, Early Days, 3.

12 Broeckmann, 438.









CHAPTER 3
NEW OBJECTS FOR OLD SPACES

Since art is dead, it has evidently become extremely easy to disguise police as artists.
When the latest imitations of a recuperated neo-dadism are allowed to pontificate proudly
in the media, and thus also to tinker with the decor of official palaces, like court j esters to
the kings of junk, it is evident that by the same process a cultural cover is guaranteed for
every agent or auxiliary of the state' s networks of persuasion.

-Guy Debord, Comments on the Society of the Spectacle

Minimalism's call for a form of bodily communication between the singular viewer and

the almighty art obj ect within a privileged space opposed the network-based communication of

Mail Art. Modernist formalism was able to adapt to the call for communication within art by

ignoring communication as a social need of humanity and instead redefining communication in

terms of one body's relationship to an obj ect and the space around it. This is the very same

method found within theories on New Media, which relate concepts of interaction and usership

with works that have no connectivity to any form of a network (such as the Net) and instead

retain the mediums of old. To understand how Minimalism' s modernist sense of bodily

communication reappears in New Media, New Media theories that seek to supplant social

communications between people with machine communication between viewers and techno art

obj ects need examining.

Both Lev Manovich and Mark B.N. Hansen examine New Media artworks' tendency to

evolve the status of art viewer to art participant or user. In Language of New M~edia Manovich

states, "New Media change our concept of what an image is--because they turn a viewer into an

active user."2 Manovich goes as far as to claim that once any image has been digitally converted

onto a computer screen it, becomes "interactive," in the sense that a digitized M~ona Lisa can be

SGuy Debord, Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, trans. Malcolm Imrie. (London and New York: Verso,
2002), 77-78.

SLev Manovich, The Language of .,I. w edia (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001), 183.









stretched, reformatted, tonally adjusted, or any other number of endless possibilities. In New

Philosophy for New M~edia, Hansen criticizes Manovich's demarcation of New Media as existing

solely within the realm of the image, or within the dependency on optical perception. For Hansen

the mere reformation, or its empowerment, of the image by the user, does not constitute

participation within New Media works. Instead, he calls for an "affectivity" of New Media, in

that works should embolden a physical dimension, or "the body's experience of space, regardless

of whether the space concerned is an actual physical space or a simulated, virtual one."3 This

clearly recalls Morris' claim that Minimalist aesthetics are negotiated in terms of "particular

space and light and physical viewpoint of the spectator."4

As Hansen' s notion of affectivity describes a visceral communication between art obj ect

and participant, Manovich calls for a form of communication based on the organization of

mediated information not through narrative, but through the aestheticized collect on/organizati on

of information," or the viewer' s interaction with a database. The connection between these

models of communication is their inherent dependency on a singular receiver reacting to the

input not of other users, but of technology itself. Manovich states, "If film technology, fi1m

practice, and film theory privilege the temporal development of a moving image, computer

technology privileges spatial dimensions."6 This relationship between the user and a privileged

spatial dimension coincides with Hansen's emphasis on the physical experience of space.

Whether this space is physical and made to feel digital via installed technological

obj ects/components, or digital with physical interaction (virtual reality), the user' s potential to


SMark B.N. Hansen, New Philosophy for New Media (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004), 40.
SMorris, 17.

SManovich, 217.

6 Ibid, 157.









communicate in these spaces remains confined to premeditated responses. A collective, or

communal sense of networked communication (the standard of true usership) falls to the wayside

with Manovich and Hansen for authored technical obj ects, which not only require institutional

spaces to house them, but also require a submissive viewer who can receive, but certainly not

affect, the communicated message. This model of New Media emphasizes technical

experimentation and machines' ability to interact more than genuine communicative possibilities

between multiple users (people).

In order to "compel us to 'see' with our bodies,"' in his definition of New Media Hansen

advocates a form of old media that appropriates digital data into an obj ect-but in this case a

stolid obj ect with no mode of technological participation whatsoever. Robert Lazzarini's skulls

(2000) brings physical obj ects, which have been constructed from digitally warped perspectives,

into real space, or as Hansen puts it:

skulls presents us with actual artifacts from the digital realm--digitally warped forms
bearing traces of inhuman topological manipulation. If our apprehension of these artifacts
doesn't give us direct experience of digital space, it does comprise a new form of
"affection-image"--a digital affection-image that unfolds in and as the viewer-
participant' s bodily intuition of sheer alienness of these forms.

Therefore, skulls does not even bring a technological component into physical space for the user

to communicate with the work, because the user only communicates phenomenologically by

adjusting his/her position in space to coincide with the askew obj ect. Hansen claims that this

bodily repositioning of the viewer in order to correct the obj ect' s warped perspective signifies for

the user "the virtuality of the body itself~"9 In assessing skulls Hansen fails to examine a

communal experience of the work as it functions in space, as earlier phenomenological works

7Hansen, 110.

"Ibid, 204.

9 Ibid, 215.










might stress. Instead, skulls remains within Hansen's conception of New Media, as it

communicates a "profound personal experience"'o for a singular receiver. Therefore, these

digitally aided sculptures bridges the gap for Hansen between passive viewership and

participation, or his sense of usership, with their insistence on a bodily mode of vision. Missing

from Hansen's evaluation of New Media, based on this bodily communication, are any works

that might facilitate the ability for multiple bodies to collectively experience such

communication with digital forms.

Hansen' s discussions on the work of Ken Feingold and Bill Viola embody perhaps his

greatest misappropriation of the term New M~edia. Feingold' s spectacle-oriented, technically

proficient sculptures embody the authored and disconnected faux participation that confuses

what New Media really is. Feingold' s If Then (2001) places two mechanical human-like heads in

close proximity to one another as they "speak incessantly to one another, attempting to determine

whether they really exist or not."l This uncanny mechanical form of communication clearly

does not include users' input into its discussion. Hansen makes clear that these mechanical

conversations are "generated in real time, utilizing language-processing software and personality

algorithms written by Feingold himself."12 Therefore, communication is but a narrative authored

by the artist. Hansen's defense of New Media's participatory dimension via bodily vision

justifies this type of digitized sculpture that surely attracts bodies towards its spectacle, but falls

short of New Media' s supposed promise of affective usership.

The same can be said of Hansen' s criticism of Bill Viola' s Quintet of the Astonished.

Hansen states, "Viola's aesthetic experimentation with New Media intensifies the now by

'o Hansen, 55.

SIbid, 152.

I12 bid, 154.









literally overloading it with stimuli (units of information) that are properly imperceptible (i.e.,

imperceptible to natural perception)."13 Therefore, Viola's work communicates with viewers like

some form of super-powered High Definition Television--astoni shing the viewer with an

overload of aestheticized digital information. Hansen locates this method of including the

imperceptible in Quintet of the Astonished, as it "gives way to a kind of affective contagion

through which consciousness, by being put face-to-face with what it cannot properly perceive

and yet what constitutes the very condition out of which the perceivable emerges, undergoes a

profound self-affection."14 But unless the desired "affection" is a seizure, an art that seeks to

communicate by manipulating human perception through an overload of data seems far from a

productive form of mediated communication. Passive viewership under Viola now becomes

affective hypnosis, which better suits the interests of Hollywood than any attempting to facilitate

usership. Assessment of such works seems to be based on the obj ects' formal qualities and their

ability to astonish the viewer into passivity. When digital information gets appropriated into real

space, it is done so through an information-rich art obj ect (such as talking machines or a moving

image on screen), which then justifies the need for a physical space to house the digital. This

form of New Media neglects the communicative networking capabilities of technology in order

to glorify the pictorialism of techno-environments and imprisons the New Media work within

institutional spaces that offer an extremely limited notion of participation or communication.

Formalism of the Database

If the works of Lazzarini, Fiengold and Viola are interactive in the sense that they impose

neurologically affective digital information onto viewers, then interaction is nothing more than



13 Hansen, 260.

14 Ibid, 265.









the authored permutations and combinations of the art obj ect itself. This necessity for the art

obj ect to interact as a superior technical obj ect becomes more of a formalistic than conceptual

quality when interaction is simply the ability for the obj ect to alter and confuse its own presence

for the viewer. Lazzarini's skulls visually brings an imperceptible new perspective through its

digitized mastery, Fiengold's talking machine heads closely resembles an actual human head,

and Viola brings imperceptible digital data to the moving image. When focusing on New Media

that are not based on connectivity and human communications, the concern is how the art obj ect

will formally relate technological information to the singular human recipient.

By way of the New Media works which they tout, Manovich sees New Media art as

framing digital information through its role as a database, whereas Hansen sees digital

information, specifically the digital image, as framed by the human body. But perception of

participation as either navigation of the database's spatial dimension or participation of a bodily

response to a neurological experiment still retains old media's model of authorship. Hansen's

and Manovich's artists continue to function as author, with the work functioning as a

premeditated, finite, technological obj ect with its sole act of communication being one of

predictable experimentation, as opposed to genuine communal affectivity.

For Manovich, New Media's aesthetic contribution to the formal progression of art

history is the showcasing of its technological properties/functions (the deconstruction of

numeric/algorithmic geometrical structures of binary code). He even references such

deconstructive aesthetics with the example of the movie The Matrix, with its "data shower" of

streaming neon green numeric lines constituting the movement of advanced

telecommunications. 1 Manovich touts Vuk Cosic's ASCII films for their ability to "effectively


15 Manovich, 330.










stage one characteristic of computer-based moving images--their identity as computer code."16

Along with film, New Media can also take on these aesthetics of computer code for Manovich,

but as such they are clearly limited in their potential for communicative or networking

capabilities. For example, Manovich praises the net. art proj ect Jodi. org by Joan Heemskerk and

Dirk Paesmans, averring that it "often evokes DOS commands and the characteristic green color

of computer terminals from the 1980s."17 This evaluation relegates New Media to an outmoded

form of technology in order to present a formalist agenda, which completely neglects New

Media's capabilities of connectivity. By pictorializing the digital, such works do not simply

digitize information for viewers, but instead mystify and obfuscate the technological process in

order to aestheticize and stylize. The deconstruction of computer code into green colored lines

coming through the pure black of the screen with an incised, grid-like composition recalls Frank

Stella's Minimalist formalism in Die FahneF~~~~FFFFF~~~~FFFF Hoch!. Rachel Greene, in "Internet Art," comments

on Jodi. org:

Hiding coherent images in source code seems playful and riddling, a means of separating
instructions (the HTML) from the completed task (the front page). This surreptitious
divide of the browser is accomplished by radicalizing the source code into the pictorial,
and radicalizing the executed task into the unreadable.l

Again, the New Media work that seeks an "unreadable" and "radicalized" aesthetic not only

misappropriates the technological process with no redeeming conceptual purpose for doing so,

but also refuses the standard of usership to which all works under the guise of New Media should

be held.





16 M8HOvich, 330.

1- Ibid, 332.

1s Rachel Green, Internet 4rt (New York: Thames & Hudson, 2004), 40.










Digital Environments for Non-digital Spaces

The models of viewership (as opposed to usership) under both Manovich and Hansen

come together in works that create installed digital environments where the traversing of space

and ability for the body to affect digital space merge. Hansen and Manovich both examine the

works of Tamas Waliczky, specifically The Forrest (1993), and the way in which perspective

systems within the aesthetics of New Media are altered. While Manovich sees Waliczky as

refuting "the default mode of vision imposed by computer software--one point linear

perspective," 19 Hansen describes Waliczky's body of work as "the inversion of a normal viewing

situation, such that the image becomes the stable point of reference around which the body might

be said to move."20 Waliczky's use of New Media, therefore, centers on a participation of mere

aesthetics, in which a newer perspectival system replaces an older one. Yet the image still retains

the confines of an older pictorial frame, in that any change in the image that might occur has

already been constructed within it. Manovich illustrates Waliczky's proj ect in The Forrest:

To create The Forrest, a number of cylinders were placed inside each other, each cylinder
mapped with a picture of a tree, repeated a number of times. In the film, we see a camera
moving through this endless static forest in a complex spatial traj ectory-but this is an
illusion. In reality, the camera does move, but the architecture of the world is constantly
changing as well, because each cylinder is rotating at its own speed. As a result, the
world and our perception of it are fused together. 21

In this pursuit of illusionism, Manovich accurately neglects mentioning any form of participation

or usership on behalf of the viewer. However, Hansen argues that Waliczyky interacts, or

communicates, with the viewer-participant in terms of compelling us again to "'see '0I irlh our





19 MallOvich, 87.

20 Hansen, 115.

21 MallOvich, 88.










bodies."22 Because the viewer must reposition his/her body to correspond to the shifting

perspectival image of The Forrest, Hansen calls this participation, in that the requirement of

movement makes the viewer conscious of his/her bodily state. Hansen describes the experience

of awareness in this model of limited participation:

As exhilarating as it is deflating, this awareness serves to place the viewer-participant
within the space of the image, although in a manner that, by constantly interrupting
immersion, draws attention to the active role played by bodily affectivity in producing
and maintaining this experience.23

This exhilaration seems to suggest more of a submissive type of viewership, in which the viewer

becomes overwhelmed by the spectacularization of the techno sphere's newer perspective. The

isolated individual body simply responds to its domination within an awe-evoking digitalized

environment.

To heighten this sense of exhilaration, Waliczky co-produced with Jeffrey Shaw an

interactive installation based on The Forrest.24 Hansen explains Shaw's interactive contribution

to the work:

To this end, Waliczky's world is made navigable via the interface of an advanced flight
simulator; using a joystick mounted on a moving seat, the viewer is able to negotiate her
own way through the infinitely recursive virtual world of The Forrest and to experience
her j ourney through the physical sensations of movement that the flight simulator
produces in her own body.25

In reflecting on the sensationalism created by an addition of a flight simulator to this work, in

which the user is to navigate virtual space, one cannot help to recall the many flight simulator

arcade devices, which seek the same form of sensationalism. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that



22 Hansen, 110.

23 Ibid, 117.

24 Ibid, 116.
25 Ibid.










the arcade flight simulator operates to draw participants to the site of the arcade, while Shaw' s

simulator requires participation within institutional spaces, such as the Ars Electronica Center.

While Renaissance formalist illusionism under the guise of window on the world evoked a

believability of a particular space, Waliczky's formalism, according to Hansen and Manovich,

induces a believability of movement through constructed virtual space. In either instance,

feedback, or participation, does not affect the authored construction, which evokes art of the

past--but surely not the usership model of New Media.

New Media Restricting Technological Advancement

New Media works that are praised for their overloaded technological information, or

those that examine the one-way communication between machine and body, function as art

obj ects due to their closed artistic process. For example, Manovich distinguishes New Media

works that offer interactive environments, or virtual reality, from photography:

In older, photographic technologies, all parts of an image are exposed simultaneously,
whereas now the image is produced through sequential scanning--circular in the case of
radar, horizontal in the case of television. Therefore, the different parts of the image
correspond to different moments in time.26

This use of radar sequential scanning suggests that digital compositions no longer mirror the

perspective of traditional human ocular perception, but are evolving into machine-generated

constructions. Hansen sees this progression of vision as a threat to human perception, stating that

"we literally cannot see what the machine can see, and we thus risk being left out of the

perceptual loop altogether."27 Thus Hansen presses the importance of a human bodily type of

vision, which commands the machine to see as we do (with our bodies). Yet this bodily vision is

clearly one of re stri cti on--re stri cti ng the m achi ne to see as we do, and only doi ng so with n


26 M8HOvich, 99.

27Hansen, 103.










experimentation where a singular user controls a machine. This bodily vision is more of a

commentary on how technology should be used, demanding that art offer a utopian scenario in

which the human body still controls the machine, but apparently only within museum walls.

Hansen criticizes Manovich for overlooking this sense of bodily controlled vision; however,

Manovich similarly states:

In contrast to cinema, where the mobile camera moves independently of the immobile
spectator, now the spectator actually has to move in physical space in order to experience
movement in virtual space. It is as though the camera were mounted on the user' s head.28

Therefore, Manovich sees Virtual Reality as breaking with the tradition of "Alberti's window,

Diirer' s perspectival machines, the camera obscura, photography, cinema,"29 in that mobility

needs to become part of human vision itself in order for this type of machine-to-human

communication to occur. So for Manovich, by coupling the formalist qualities of old with

mobility, a new art in the tradition of Modernism will emerge. Hansen tracks VR' s ability to

modify vision at large:

Indeed, the framing function that I have ascribed to human embodiment reaches its
creative potential in VR interfaces with dataspaces that are markedly different from the
geometric space of "ordinary" perception and that, consequently, cannot be apprehended
through perspectival vision.30

Yet despite both Manovich and Hansen' s claims that VR constitutes a sort of break with the

ocularcentrism of cinema, it is important to note that their referenced works all require a

virtualized interactive environment to house this bodily vision, much like the need of the black

box in the cinematic control of vision. Hansen examines the work of Michael Scroggins and

Stewart Dickson' s Topological Slide (1994) as an environment that brings the abstraction of


28 Manovich, 109.

29 Ibid.

30 Hansen, 163.










digital media (its mathematical algorithms) into physical space for the user to physically

navigate. Or, as Hansen puts it:

For Scroggins, Topological Slide can be counterposed to the striated space of the Web:
whereas the Web operates a transformation of the "actual" into the "virtual," of the local
into the abstract, their VR interface allows the participant to traverse mathematical
obj ects in an experience of "the abstract made concrete. 31

This suggests that Topological Slide, and other works like it, appropriate digital information,

such as operations of the Web, in order to produce a centralized environment, or technical obj ect.

As if it were acting as parody, Topological Slide abstracts the Net, or Web, into one

environment, or site, which is the opposite of any network' s (including the Net) intentions. The

isolation of a singular user in these interactive environments is essential for this form of

communication, as opposed to any sense of a collective affectivity. New Media that neglect

communicative networking capabilities of technology in order to incite bodily experiences

within pictorialized technological environments imprison the New Media work within

institutional spaces.

This production-based form of New Media resides within proj ects centered on

technological experimentation, with the artist acting as scientist and users functioning as mere

variables. The work of Jeffrey Shaw, as described by both Hansen and Manovich, exemplifies

this type of production, which is certainly not an exploration of networking capabilities.

Manovich emphasizes Shaw' s ability to aestheticize the relationship between a database and the

interface, which users access to explore digital information. Shaw' s work Legible City

"communicates" with the user to the extent that he/she might navigate through "a virtual three-

dimensional city composed from letters."32 Manovich applauds this virtual work for its


31 Hansen, 181.

32 M8HOvich, 226.










introspective quality to proclaim itself as a database and then allow the user to access its

virtualized space. For Manovich, the database supplants the narrative as the essential cultural

form for creative process under the influence of New Media and examines its "interactive"

nature in works likes Shaw's:

The "user" of a narrative is traversing a database, following links between its records as
established by the database's creator. An interactive narrative (which can be also called a
hypernarrative in an analogy with hypertext) can then be understood as the sum of
multiple traj ectories through a database.33

This interactive narrative, therefore, merely allows the user to "follow" the database creator's

"links" of digital information. The resulting relationship is solely one between user and

constructed digital space. The hypernarrative's replacement of art history's traditional narrative

is only new in the sense that it adds a few more windows onto the world for the viewer to

navigate through. In Legible City, the user follows such links by virtually exploring the

environment of the database on a bike, which adds a physical dimension to the work in that one

does in fact sit on an actual bike to traverse the digital environment. Hansen's analysis, in sync

with Shaw's, takes this physical dimension as its point of departure in that a user' s leg

movements affect the digital image by framing it.34 Aside from physical involvement, neither

Hansen nor Manovich emphasizes the lack of the user' s input or ability to creatively alter the

work within this model of interaction. Communication in this model simply functions with the

art obj ect offering the user a passive experience within digital space, which is surely not a

networked community, but a mobile image with limited permutations.






33 MallOvich, 227.

34 Hansen, 58-59.










Like Manovich, Hansen sees Shaw's works as "interactive" environments, yet he Einds

the "proprioceptive and affective body"35 COnstitutive of the interface, as opposed to the digital

aestheticization of a database. Hansen states, "Shaw' s overriding concern with using technology

to break out of the frame of the image--and thereby empower the body--serves from the very

start to differentiate his work from that of his peers."36 So while Manovich sees Shaw' s work in

terms of its ability to allow for a visual (ocularcentric) traversing of the aestheticized database,

Hansen emphasizes the body's role in this process of navigation, or framing. Again, the user' s

ability to construct with others a communal, navigable space remains inherently absent from both

analyses. Instead, set parameters and Einite permutations exist by the hand of the artist to glorify

technological capabilities, except for visual collective communication, or networking

capabilities. For example, under Hansen' s analysis, Shaw' s Place: Ruhr (2000) Einds limited

communication with or participation by the user, to the extent that one's body interacts with the

virtual environment only at the level of selectivity of that which has already been authored. In

reference to this work Hansen states:

Accordingly, your experience of this image environment gradually yields a felt
coordination of your bodily movement with your "virtual" navigation of the image space,
as the virtual space of the image is transformed from an impersonal cognitive idea into an
immediately graspable, profoundly personal experience, one that centrally features your
body--that is, your proprioceptive and affective body--as interface.37

That this work, according to Hansen, functions as a "profoundly personal experience" attests to

its model of communication between singular receiver and virtualized obj ect in which human

interaction only exists within one's own body. This personal experience of technological

sublation mirrors art history's luxury art obj ect and similarly demands a public space to sanctify

35 Hansen, 48.

36 Ibid, 53.

37 Ibid, 48.










its cultural significance. Although Place: Ruhr can be dismantled as an installation and function

within different physical spaces, its large cylindrical screening frame, along with the motored

platform to navigate the virtual space within the frame, require a large and technologically

compatible site. Therefore, while we may not be able to call this quasi-architectural structure

site-specific, it surely requires an institution-specific site. Virtual reality environments that

operate with a singular user through a machine in physical space obviously require a specific to

house them.

Technological Amusement Parks

The type of institutional space that houses these technological amusement rides, such as

the work of Shaw, is best exemplified through the Disneyland-like existence of the Ars

Electronic Center. Housing the Ars Electronica Organization's ideological preference for

future-oriented, experimental New Media art, the center functions at the level of the spectacle,

due to its insistence on "digital" works that intentionally mandate a physical architectural space.

Centered in Linz, Austria and begun in 1979, the Ars Electronica organization still insists on a

primacy of place by promoting the center as some sort of techno-cultural shrine. In the Ars

Electronic Center-generated publication "1979-2004 Ars Electronica: The Network for Art,

Technology, and Society: The First 25 Years," Siegbert Janko claims that due to the presence of

Ars Electronica, "Linz has been able to secure itself a certain position on the global map of

culture, and this has given this future-oriented city a quality of its own and hence a bonus as a

location."38 Janko goes on to reference the hopeful future of the Ars Electronica Center by

suggesting that "[t]he challenge will now be to keep pace with the new speed of competition by



38 Siegbert Janko, "The Spirit of Linz," Ars Electronica, 1979-2004: The Network for Art, Technology and Society:
The First 25 Years, eds. Hannes Leopoldseder, Christine Schijpf, and Gerfried Stocker (Germany: Hatje Cantz
Verlag, 2004), 60.










contributing powerful ideas and the necessary funds."39 Of course, much like the funds, these

"powerful ideas" within the realm of New Media should be ones validating the physical locale of

the site. New Media critic Roy Ascott predicts the significant commercial incentives for the

physical site of the Ars Electronica Center, or AEC, by noting its ability to function as "a

platform, for the presentation of ground-breaking designs of hardware and software,

technological invention, and product development in the spheres of design, entertainment, and

education."40 Ascott continues,

All of these aspects are potential sources of revenue that, along with shop sales,
information services, and copyrights of archival material, will yield income of mercial
sponsorship of proj ects, programmes (e.g. the Sony Diskman museum guide), and
specific parts of the building (e.g., the Apple Electronic School Room) will also be
sought.41

The model of New Media works that relate to such geographically centered spaces either

experiment on the physical body's relation to technology or aestheticize digitized data in order to

validate the physical representation of digital information, as opposed to its liberated existence

within a digital network. Both Hansen's and Manovich's theories support the AEC's preferred

type of New Media works, which oppose a newer media of connectivity, network, and

community. Instead of user-to-user communication, a virtual, or installation, environment is

created to be experienced by the individual receiver, which is essential for the institutional one-

way distribution system of creative content. Ascott states, "But just as the art in the past was

thought to be concerned with authoring (the one-way channeling of meaning), so museums saw





39 Janko, 60.

40 Roy Ascott, "The Ars Electronica Center Datapool," Telematic Embrace: Vi'sionary Theories ofArt, Technology,
and Consciousness, eds. Edward A. Shanken (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 293.

41 Ascott, Ars Electronica, 293.










their business as that of authorizing (a one-way system of validating and valorizing)."42

Therefore, museums, or newer technological cultural centers, along with the artists who wish to

coexist within that institutional framework, continue to rely on art that perpetuates the one-way

communication systems of old media.












































42 Roy Ascott, "The Mind of the Museum," Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories ofArt, Technology, and
Consciousness, eds. Edward A. Shanken (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 349.










CHAPTER 4
CLOSING THE NETWORK

In order to become ever more identical to itself, to get as close as possible to motionless
monotony, the fr~ee space of the commodity is henceforth constantly modified and
reconstructed.

-Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle

New Media often use computer capabilities and the connectivity of the Net, but in ways

other than connecting users. This type of work tends to hold an affinity with the institutional

framework of museums and galleries. Theories like Manovich' s mentioned earlier, suggest that a

participatory function exists even within simple digital images and digitized texts, as a user can

change sizes, shapes, colors, and even content with a few clicks. Manovich states, "Once an

obj ect is represented in a computer, it automatically becomes interactive. Therefore, to call

computer media 'interactive' is meaningless--it simple means stating the most basic fact about

computers."2 This is exactly why the "interactive" aspect of a New Media work determines its

genuinely "new" usage of media. In other words, mere adjustments to digitized obj ects, or

programs, are intrinsically part of computers and machines, so this form of communication with

a machine is meaningless unless other users also interact. New Media works that focus on the

Internet' s socio-cultural ability to network computers, people, and ideas allow users to actually

participate in the construction of the art itself, which is not a finished product, but instead a

continuing process of social interaction. To what extent a user actually uses the technological for

independent and creative action depends on the art proj ect and its authorship, or lack thereof.

New Media works that use the Net to communally network users differ from those that

use the Net to collect data, aestheticize it, and then deem themselves networked. As seen earlier


SDebord, Society, Paragraph 166.

SManovich, 55.









within Mail Art, the difference between a closed and open network is again relevant. The more

the work is an authored experiment of the artist as opposed to a facilitation of creative

communication, the more its network is closed. Technological experimentation in art, though

breaking with the bounded obj ect, retains a model of authorship when the artist manipulates

users into mere variables facilitating the larger experiment at hand. In reference to Net

artists/authors (which he refers to as "high tech representatives"), R.L. Rutsky, in his book High

Techno, suggests:

They become the privileged interpreters of technology and the future, the priests of the
high-tech "cathedral of the future." They become, in short, the mediators of technology,
the "interface" through which the unknown, "sublime" complexity of high tech--and
indeed, the future itself-can be accessed by the general populace.3

This divine form of authorship only exists within Net art when the artist sets up a technological

system that communicates through automation. In other words, this is an art connected to the

Net, but void of any genuine networking capabilities. Therefore, the artist constructs an illusion

of a participatory dimension while merely directing a premeditated outcome to be preformed by

machinery. This form of Net art requires only that a user (or, more appropriately in this scenario,

a viewer) browses through a digital world created by the god-like New Media artist. In hIternet

Art: The Online Cla~sh of Culture and Commerce Julian Stallabrass refers to these types of works

by writing, "There is certainly little interactivity offered by the many web-based works of art that

simply require the user to click blindly through a series of screens."4 Such non-interactive works,

despite any web-based characteristics, can in fact serve as obj ects, digitized of course, in the

sense that they function as a packaged archive of web pages (just as Manovich's New Media

centered on the relationship between user and database). Although the Net is the only realm in


SR.L. Rutsly, High Techne (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 156.

SJulian Stallabrass, Internet 4rt: The Online Clash of Culture and Conunerce (London: Tate Publishing, 2003), 61.










which networked New Media art can properly function, that does not mean that digital obj ect-

like works, although better suited for the museum space, cannot appear on the Internet as well.

Net art that retains old media's insistence on authorship opposes the network-based art of

conceptual movements such as Fluxus and Mail Art. In his essay "Fluxus Praxis: An Exploration

of Connections, Creativity and Community," Owen F. Smith states:

Fluxus works are not based on the source of original artistic conception, or solely on the
artist' s intent but occur in the mental realm of the viewer/participants or in the shared
cognitive space that Marcel Duchamp labeled the "art coefficient."'

Works that seek no Einalization in terms of artistic intention subj ect themselves to potential

destruction, as the works offer no predictable outcome--only Duchamp's "art coefficient." This

concept comes back to the process or communication itself, replacing the Einalized art obj ect

with infinite socio-communicative possibilities. Rutsky refers to the social sphere of

technological communication as "techno-culture," and the structuring, or supervision, of such

communication as "techno-cultural politics." In referring to an idealized status of techno-culture

he states that "it must imagine human beings as participants in the techno-cultural unconscious--

riding its waves, attempting to navigate its current, but also, by their actions, initiating unsettling

new movements within it, generating new relations and processes, whose consequences often

cannot be foreseen."6 That which "cannot be foreseen" functions as affective communication--a

communication between the artist, the users, and the technology that connects them. Therefore,

the type of communication taking place depends on the technical capabilities of the work. Much

like Mail Art included an aesthetic dimension to its networked messages, Net art can choose to

aestheticize its communication process in any number of ways. What separates New Media art

5 Owen F. Smith, FIlu~itl Praxis: An Exploration of Connections, Creativity, and Conununity," 4t a Distance:
Precursors to 4rt and activism on the Internet, eds. Annmarie Chandler, and Norie Neumark (Cambridge: MIT
Press, 2005), 130.

6 Rutsky, 158.









that seeks creative network communication from that which lacks a true participatory dimension

is whether technology or users/participants determine the process and outcome of the work.

Therefore, the determining question is Is it people, or authored algorithms that change~~~~hhh~~~~hhh the work?

Manovich illustrates this dichotomy as static versus dynamic Websites. He states:

[T]he idea of content preexisting interface is challenged in yet another way by new media
artworks that dynamically generate their data in real time. While in a menu-based
interactive multimedia application or a static Website, all data already exists before the
user accesses it, in dynamic new media artworks the data is created on the fly, or, to use
the new media lingo, at fun time. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways:
procedural computer graphics, formal language systems, AI and AL programming.7

According to Manovich, then, an artwork on the Web can function "dynamically," while still

refusing a truly participatory dimension for users, as technology--more specifically Artifieial

Intelligence or Artifieial Life-constitutes the dynamic or changing aspect of such work more

than the creative contributions of users. Yet at the visual level of the work, algorithms have the

same potential to modify a work that the input of users does. So despite some works' ability to

rebel against the Eixated, or static art obj ect, the use of A.I. to do so seems more of an elation of

technology than an attempt to ignite social communication.

Network as Installation

The use of the Net' s ability to link information through its database-like archive of

information is often confused as a form of networking. The term network art can often appear

alongside of proj ects that merely seek to use information on the Net (as opposed to human

communication) to digitally compute aesthetic representations of data. If such proj ects do in fact

carry the concept of a network, it is surely a closed network with creative limitations based on

the directorial efforts of only one user (the artist). Ola Pehrson' s Yucca hzvest Trading Plant

(1999) functions as a desktop computer, which is networked to the Internet while being

SManovich, 67.










connected to a houseplant. This live plant electronically accesses light and water based on its

electric impulses. Pehrson explains:

A Yucca palm tree has been chosen as a representative of a typical plant for a young
urban businessman. The plant has been exposed to six months of intensive market
education, during which it has been fed with stock market rates encoded into electric
currents, combined with an index related conditioning diet of either rich or meager
rations of water and sunlight. This is an attempt to stimulate a market-adapted habitus,
similar to that which years of Einancial transactions develop in the experienced stock
broker's nervous system.8

Despite the banal social commentary, this work is merely a spectacularized obj ect in that it

requires site specifieity to function as a network installation art form. The goal or concept of the

work needs but a mere digital photograph on the artist' s website to depict a plant covered in

wires on top of a table alongside of a desktop computer. Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway's

Black .1/usal s/ Stock market Plan2etarium (2001) functions in a similar manner. A Eixated,

inhuman network, such as that of the stock market, once again functions to visualize data into the

form of installation spectacle. The data comes from online pre-figured information, such as that

from Dow Jones or Nasdaq, therefore, no participatory dimension exists to allow viewers to

affect the visuals being communicated. As he curated the show at Tate Britain, "Art and Money

Online," in which the work appeared, Stallabrass comments:

This work visualised the global stock market as an animated star chart, with stocks
glowing brighter or dimmer depending on the volume of trading, and drifting together or
apart according to the congruence of their trading histories. So when IT stocks started to
fall rapidly and concertedly, as they did over the course of the exhibition, their
corresponding stars clustered together in the dome.9

Again, the installation work, much like the maj ority of installation works before it, finds its

representation reduced to the photographic dimension. Perhaps this does not pose a problem to


SOla Pehrson's official Web site, "Yucca Invest Trading Plant," www.olapehrson.com/index/yucca/index.htm
(accessed May 15, 2006).
9 Stallabrass, Internet 4rt, 31.










such works, as they function more at a historical level as documentary than as a contemporary,

progressive level of communication. In other words, one can look up the global stock market

activity at the time of the installation, view the quite beautiful blue fluorescent-lighted stars on

the dark museum ceiling through photos, and comprehend the work conceptually without any

need for interaction. If the work is networked via its reliance on online market data, it is surely a

closed network that the work responds to, as most individuals cannot affect the stock market in

any participatory way.

For a work to function as New Media, it must allow input from users to adequately

modify the appearance of the art proj ect at hand. Nonrestrictive, networked New Media art needs

to function beyond a user-to-program level of computation. Interaction based solely on a user

engaging with an artist's predetermined program, or environment, can only offer

individualized/isolated experiences of a work, no different than old media's mode of production.

The digital installation medium has the ability to bring what might appear to be usership, or

networks, into the institutional space and create a false sense of networking capabilities. Such

digital installations still function more as art obj ects than creative artistic communication. In

"Chat Rooms," Hal Foster states,

[I]nstallation is the default format, and exhibition the common medium, of much art
today. (In part this tendency is driven by the increased importance of huge shows: there
are biennials not only in Venice but in Sao Paulo, Instanbul, Johannesburg and Gwangju.)
Entire exhibitions are often given over to messy juxtapositions of proj ects photos and
texts, images and obj ects, videos and screens and occasionally the effects are more
chaotic than communicative. 10

Although such "messy juxtapositions" may resemble the disorganization of the many unrelated

contributions within an artistic network, the certainly do not act like one.



'O Hal Foster, "Chat Rooms," Participation: Documents of Contemporary 4rt ed. Claire Bishop (Cambridge: MIT
Press, 2006), 192.










Mongrel's Color Separation at the ZKM Center for Art and Media in 1998 embodies this

type of network installation that falsely receives categorization into New Media. Hansen offers a

firsthand account of his personal "interaction" with the work:

Entering the darkened room in which the work was shown, I was at first a bit flustered,
finding no directions to guide my interaction with the work. On discovering a mouse on
the console in the middle of the room (after my eyes adjusted from the darkness), I
instinctively began to move it. 1

Upon moving the mouse, Hansen goes on to explain how the work interacted with him by

scrolling through different combinations of photographed faces wearing masks of different racial

complexions. When clicking on one of the scrolling faces, Hansen notes how spit would be

proj ected onto that face while an audio recording describing a tale of racial abuse would play. 12

Strange that this work would be included in a discussion of New Media, as it clearly revives the

spectatorship of outmoded media. The click of the mouse might as well be the push of a play

button on a VCR, or cassette player, or better yet, the pull of a slot machine's lever to rapidly

scroll through different pictures. The images are static, except for the animated spit graphics,

which are of one fixated form, and neither the visual nor the audio ever change in this almost

degrading sense of participation for the user. Communication from users matters not in this

work, and its process is not explained to viewers, according to Hansen's account. In fact, the

mouse should have been removed from the work so as not to confuse viewers that they may

actually be "interacting" with it.

The work of Jeffrey Shaw critiques the gallery system' s appropriation of functioning

Internet artworks, yet the artist also operates within that system (similar to the institutional

critique of Ascher mentioned earlier). His work Net.art Browser (1999) functions by "conj oining


11 Hansen, 148.

I2 Ibid, 149.










information space with the museum space and hybridizing the interactivity of surfing the Internet

with the museum tradition of wall mounted images."13 Users are given a remote keyboard to

interact with the piece by moving a large flat screen hooked to horizontal tracks on the gallery

wall through the action of accessing various websites. Although conceptually the work

comments on digitized phenomenology, it does not bring communication between various users

together, but instead allows one user at a time to interact with the artist' s moving creation, much

like Mongrel's Color Separation. A later work of Shaw' s Web of Life (2002) is often described

as a "network installation," which suggests that the network has been brought into a physical

space (most likely to be objectified to some extent). Interestingly, the network connects

viewers/users to other installations in various physical spaces. The interaction between the five

total installation locations offers visual representation in the form of an organic-like

environment. The "users" (in a very rudimentary sense of the word) contribute to the work by

placing their individual hand lines into a scanning interface to impart a representation of their

identity as visual data. Shaw' s website explains: "The network of distributed installations allows

people to j ointly influence a shared audio-visual occurrence, and by scanning their palm lines

they contribute an attribute of their identities to the changing identity of the artistically

constituted formations."14 Perhaps this unites users through digitized phenomenological

awareness; however, the ideas and intellectual input of the users matter not in the artist' s

methodology. Much like a click of the mouse in Color Separation, a press of the hand does not

constitute interaction or usership when any attempts for the user to affect the work conceptually

are futile because the artist has preordained all possible outcomes. The reason these installations

13 Jeffrey Shaw's official Web site, "Works," Net.art Browser, http:// www~jeffrey-shaw.net/html_main/frameset-
works.php3 (accessed July 26, 2007).

14 Jeffrey Shaw's official Web site, "Works," Web of Life, http:// www~jeffrey-shaw.net/html~main/frameset-
works.php3 (accessed July 26, 2007).










insist upon their networking capabilities has to do with their sponsoring institutions' upcoming

struggle for survival amidst an art of usership. In Art Incorporated: The Story of Contemporar

Art Stallabrass makes clear how the installation format serves underlying institutional interests as

a "loss-leader for more marketable products."

Institutional Presence on the Net: Curating Virtual Space

As seen with network installations, unless networked art remains open, the entire process

can be documented through older media and easily manipulated into obj ect-ness. For example,

when the participatory dimension of a New Media work ceases to exist, that former network can

be appropriated into documentary-based pictorial representations of that past communication.

Hence a former successful network of individuals can become aesthetic variations of a line graph

or pictogram representing users' data no different from visualizations of economic trends (as

with Black .1/\lrlsl Stock Market Plan2etarium). Digital imagery often represents Internet

communication processes, or networks, where an entire site's interactions can be documented

and preserved on storage hardware, such as CD-ROMs or flash drives. This brings to mind

publications that supplement video art and installation discourse with imagery--a snapshot or

fragment of an entire work that now represents its entire identity. With a maj ority of readers not

having seen the original work, the non-obj ect, or process, in fact becomes a mere picture or

pictures, often chosen by individuals separate from the work' s artistic process. A snapshot of a

website offers one instance of its functionality amidst a whole history of its interactivity. Such

conceptually void imagery is prevalent among museum/gallery sites boasting their

implementation of New Media.




1s Julian Stallabrass, Art Incorporated: The Story of Contemporary Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004),
25-26.










This process of photo fragmentation reduces the interconnected, vast montage of a

website to object status (the singular image). In reference to the fragmented parts of the

destroyed networked montage, Rutsky states, "They are, in other words, effective as

representations precisely because their 'technological' form has been 'cut,' separated, from

technological function, thus making them available for 'assembly' at a symbolic level, as

representational fragments."16 When the full technological potential becomes abandoned in a

technical work, that work begins to function less as a "matter of functionality or instrumentality

than of style, or aesthetics." 17This stylization emerging from the refusal of the Net' s

technological communicative abilities can be seen in two different processes. The first is

represented in both Color Separation and Topological Slide, where the artists intentionally make

the work resemble the Net, but deny the connectivity the Net is intended to offer. In other words,

the Net becomes fragmented into one space/theme so that it can function as a singular, self-

contained work. The other process occurs after artistic production. As with Yucca hzvest Trading

Plant, the work becomes represented as a photo, or fragment, of a plant with Net-enabling wires.

In this way the process, or relationship, regarding the Net' s ability to interact with the plant is

absent. These processes of stylization result in the problematic New Media that fit into the

institutional framework of the gallery/museum via their mystification of technology and

adaptability for representation in physical space. Yet, the institution also strives for an

adaptability to coexist in both physical and digital space.

Manovich describes the new aesthetic, or formalism, of the computerized era as that of

the database-like structure of the commercialized Graphic User Interface, or GUI. Is Like


16 Rutsly, 98.

'7 Ibid, 11.

'8Manovich, 63.









Microsoft Windows software, or Macintosh OSX, GUls aestheticize digital information in order

to construct a retrieval system for the user to access information quickly. This visual

organization of information mirrors the organizational methodology of museums and galleries. If

one were to access the homepage of a maj or museum and pull up the institution' s site map,

which shows the layout of the Web page' s design, she/he would Eind great similarities with the

physical layout of that same institution. Manovich refers to these new organizational processes as

"cultural interfaces," and suggests they can "model the world in distinct ways."19 No different

than the museums' physical separation of various cultures and movements (hiding irregular

outliers), cultural interfaces also reinstate institutional ideologies and will continue to do so.

When an institution creates its own website to function as an extension of its physical

self, its archive-like network consumes malleable fragments and links them to indicate that they

are part of the whole, the reputation of that institution. A New Media artist having her/his work

linked to a museum's Web page does not need to be understood in terms much disparate from

the old museum model of bricks and mortars. Perhaps museums and galleries have been too

nostalgic in their digitization attempts as they clearly have done to Internet works what was done

to video works earlier, an obj ectifieation and fitting into the gallery space via a rej section of that

media's reproductive capabilities.

The institutional network theoretically adheres better to the concept of an archive. What

becomes networked for the institution, usually on its webpage, are many digital New Media

works that offer commensurability to be linked to that institution. Those works then require the

digital space of the institution to be accessed in order for the work to be accessed (as seen with





19 MallOvich, 117.










Mongrel's Color Separation on the Tate's website20), which generates the same attention to

institutional space that a luxury art obj ect will. Therefore, as open artistic networks seek

dedication amongst users, institutional, or curatorial, so-called networks demand name-brand

publicity.

As institutional spaces become digitized, so do their market-driven needs. Stallabrass

examines how museums/galleries could erect conventional models of commercialization and

ownership through the technology of digital signing.21 This suggests a user would need to access

a specific gallery's website, perhaps through paid membership, in order to view or interact with a

work. In this scenario, the digital architecture of the institution reflects its use of physical

architecture. Video art saw its own reproducible medium obj ectified into sculpture and

installations that limited viewership to a specific site (as opposed to millions of VCRs), and in

some cases limited editions commercially answered the problem of reproducibility in the art

world. The more obj ect-based, rather than communication-based, the New Media work, the

greater potential for its commercialization via methods like digital signing. Networks can dispel

such manipulation, however, according to Saper, by "creating a venue in which artists can

experiment rather than showcase finished work."22 This experimentation is that of the open

network for artistic communication, and "when art is understood as an experiment rather than the

making of a masterpiece, the gallery system loses its competitive edge over faster distribution

sy stem s."23 To retain its edge the gallery system needs those experiments to take place in the

new technological laboratories of the museum/gallery space. The success of these institutional


20 Stallabrass, Internet 4rt, 117-118.

21 Ibid, 131.

22Craig J. Saper, Netrorked 4rt (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), 25-26.

23Saper, Neatworked 4rt, 125-126.










attempts depends upon whether New Media artists assist or resist those institutional networks'

struggle for dominance over open, creative communications.

Independent artistic networks and the networks of the gallery/museum system compete

ambiguously and covertly; however, a third contender directly competes with the

gallery/museum system: the online curatorial site. These websites function in the same way as a

museum, except that they are digitized and database-oriented, as opposed to architecturally-

oriented, much like a museum's own website. Sites such as Rhizome, Telepolis, and Syndicate24

organize both visual data to be viewed and interactive works to be engaged. It is important to

note that sites such as Rhizome, despite a .org domain name, which offers a bold reference to

their "not for profit" status, asks for a $25.00 membership fee to view and participate in the

works, which, although perhaps necessary for maintenance, could appear to audiences to be very

similar to, for example, MOMA' s entrance fee. One must maintain thousands of archived digital

works in the form of a database while the other has a building to maintain, and both seem to

require trendy new designs of their own. These curated sites, along with those of museums, do

not house communication-based network art, but online art that functions as either static visuals

(e.g., the snapshot effect), or regulated/limited participatory interaction, which can be contained

as a fragment of the larger site (e.g., Mongrel's work). In other words, institutional sites require

New Media proj ects that can be effectively linked and maintained within their site' s capacity,

much like their physical space. If a proj ect functions outside of the institutional site (open), it

seems strange that one would have to access a curated site (closed) to then link to that proj ect.

The open nature of earlier worldwide network movements such as Fluxus and Mail Art

struggles to exist in the competition of Internet politics. Artists' and museums' websites


24 Stallabrass, Internet 4rt, 7-11.









dominate search engine responses for those seeking out artistic social communication, and the

sites that claim to offer it in many cases have no real regard for user participation beyond

marketing and "membership" attempts. Finding free and open networked spaces of visual

communication becomes less likely as the increase of websites offers more materialized content,

but less and less sincere usership. Most New Media artists who act as website authors adhere to a

model of authorship, which negates the concept of usership so fundamental to the identity of

New Media. Broeckmann states that "a key problem of the presentation of network art is that

there is no distinction between the artists and the audience, between production and reception."25

This of course is only a "problem" for institutions in their curatorial efforts to isolate network art

from the Internet and into their protected spaces (either physical or digital in form).






























25 Broeckmann, 441.











CHAPTER 5
BECOMING 'NEW' MEDIA

When art, become independent, depicts its world in dazzling colors, a moment of life has
grown old and it cannot be rejuvenated with dazzling colors. It can only be evoked as a
memory. The greatness of art begins to appear only at the dusk of life.

-Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle

The inclusion of digital transmissions of societal interactions within the discourse of art

history arguably disrupts Kantian ideals of formal qualities that some may demand of an artwork.

To ameliorate such qualms, Craig Saper, in Networked Art, categorizes this revolutionary art

form: "When aesthetic and poetic decisions embodied in artworks lead to a heightened or

changed social situation; one needs to describe these forms as sociopoetic rather than as artworks

within particular social contexts."2 This evolution of the static artwork to a sociopoetic one from

which social changes emerge, applies to New Media that make it possible for user to actually

affect their social experience in some way through a digitized format. If New Media art

continues on a traj ectory of relational aesthetics, the concept of an artwork and sociopoetics will

be one and the same.

Yet in the discussion of this utopian-sounding participatory dimension within New

Media/Net works, the societal imbalance of technological access and education needs

emphasized. In rej ecting authoritarian authorship in the construction and maintenance of a Web

artwork, the process becomes one of community and outcomes are infinite; however, when users

represent only certain demographics, outcomes of the works show less promise of an all-

inclusive sense of community. The success of Net-based works depends on users' ability to



SDebord, Society, Paragraph 188.

SSaper, Networked 4rt, xiii.










operate specific technologies, which depends on their knowledge of various technological

operations. Broeckmann notes the maj ority of audiences' difficulty when encountering

networked art to become "initiated into its rituals."3 Without efforts to educate how one can

effectively contribute, the network becomes one of limitations--the dystopia of a supposed

virtual utopia. Stallabrass notes, "The experience of the Internet, and art on it, is strongly marked

by inequality since those with fast machines and connections experience it very differently from

those whose hardware and software is aging."4 If inStitutional spaces are to play any role in the

network-based New Media artwork, it should be to involve more users and to support artists who

facilitate a true sense of usership, as opposed to showcasing to museumgoers what has already

been produced.

Beyond the dearth of technologically proficient and active users, lies an exclusivity of

those who choose to participate in network-based art. In reference to the Fluxus and Mail Art

network approaches, which mirror that of the Internet, Saper examines their shared pursuit to

construct "interactive gamelike structures of discovery and play."5 Such gamelike activities,

however, may function at an artistic level that excludes many onlookers who, although have the

opportunity to participate, are not given instructions for doing so productively. Saper indicates

the limitations of these clandestine works: "Many of the works have little value for someone

eavesdropping on the network of participants because these works favor narrowcasting over

broadcasting."6 Narrowcasting, therefore, exists as an exclusionary process, unless general

audiences have the capability to access and understand the artistic communication at hand. The


3 Broeckmann, 438.

4 Stallabrass, Internet Art, 41.

5 Saper, Networked Art, 36.
6 Ibid, 153.










networks of corporations, along with museums and galleries, are the opposite of narrowcasting,

as all viewers (not to be confused with participatory networks) must comprehend their limited

role as receiver almost instantaneously in order to enter into that institution's ideology (similar to

the old media of television). Without helpful and easily accessible educational tools to suggest

otherwise, the art of passive viewership tends to attract a larger audience than that of active

participation requiring too much technological proficiency.

As viewers, not users, audiences are most likely less exclusive when content is less

participatory, as the interaction process requires less action, knowledge, and time. Time serves as

a prerequisite for effective networks, as those involved in the artistic process must be fully

committed for the work to exist as an ongoing communication. Otherwise, the work becomes one

of limited existence, and can be turned into a finite act (photo/video recording), which, as other

movements have proven, can in turn become obj ectified. This may seem inevitable, but the

works should at least be referenced in terms of their former ability to subvert the communication

model of old media (that is, before that very system misrepresents them under its own image).

Examining problematic practices of network-based art forms, Ken Friedman in "The Wealth and

Poverty of Networks" boldly claims,

The sustainability of a network flows from the productive capacity of the system or from
the willingness of individuals to support its generative capacity. This requires existential
commitment of a kind that is extremely rare. So far, there has been no example of an art
network that demonstrates the sustainability and resilience of most successful social
networks.7

Sustaining networks calls for participants of a new breed--one of dedication and care, and the

educational resources to productively participate beyond the limited "participation" of leisurely

clicking through a limited set of options. Sustainability for what institutions would consider their


SKen Friedman, "The Wealth and Poverty of Networks," 4t a Distance: Precursors to 4rt and activism on the
Internet, eds. Annmarie Chandler, and Norie Neumark (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005), 419.










equivalent of a network (curatorial sites) comes with the institutions' capabilities to generate

funding over widened usership. The reality of artwork on the Internet is that it has a limited

lifespan, unlike fixated art obj ects, which in some cases it refuses to be. Stallabrass explains this

ephemeral nature of Net art: "To see the swift decay of such unmaintained online works is like

witnessing, greatly accelerated, the disintegration of a fresco, as if fragments of plaster were

falling before one's eyes."s

The more one subscribes to an institution's cultural interface, the more time that person

will spend in the institution's space, and the more rational the institution's modeling will

become. Subscription here has a temporal value. Time becomes devotional, and the more time

one devotes to a network, the more extended that network' s lifespan. Manovich describes Web

designers' desire to turn users into "hardcore" users, or ones who stay on that designer' s one site

as she/he strives to keep the user stationary.9 This kind of devotion of the user for the designed

page, Manovich, along with Web designers, refers to as "eyeball hangtime," and this loyalty is

measured by the "stickiness" of the Web page, or how much time an individual will devote to the

site. 10 Museums and galleries obviously would have a sticky situation on their hands if they

could not compete for audiences' devotion by running their own institutional sites, or what they

deem networks, to emulate the independent artistic networks that rej ect the art obj ect and offer a

more radical conceptual art form. Thus, the institution requires curatorial efforts to construct a

seemingly interactive digital equivalent to its physical space in an attempt at self-preservation.






SStallabrass, Internet 4rt, 42.

9 MallOvich, 161.
'O Ibid.










New Criteria for Judgment

Rosalind Krauss' "A Voyage on the North Sea: Art in the age of the Post-Medium

Condition" suggests that with the easy and constant reproducibility of outmoded art forms,

contemporary art "in the international fashion of installation and intermedia work"" offers no

valid criteria for assessment. Yet, New Media work that does not seek out technological

experimentation, (such as those exploring uncanny relationships between humans and

machines) but instead, fosters an effective network of users who with time construct new

visual/semiotic ways to communicate and maintain community, surely have an evaluative goal

beyond the promotion of a technologically capable formalism. Authored works seeking out

specific institutional spaces for installation-based representations of media work that merely

functions as an eclectic obj ect of the outmoded are more of a curatorial effort than an art process.

Bourriaud explains their alternative:

Unlike an obj ect that is closed in on itself by the intervention of a style and a signature,
present-day art shows that form only exists in the encounter and in the dynamic
relationship enjoyed by an artistic proposition with other formations, artistic or
otherwise.12

The relationships and encounters of networked New Media do in fact leave an aesthetic residue,

which does not obj ectify the work as it is constantly in flux both visually and contextually,

depending on the creative input of users. Contrary to Hansen' s insistency on New Media that

communicate with the body as opposed to ocularcentric models, networked New Media

cognitively allow usership to create virtual action, which often take on a visual form. The

unlimited perceptual experiences of art in process attests to "the demise of the old order of art,



11 Rosalind Krauss, 4 Voyage on the North Sea: 4rt in the 4ge of the Post-Medium Condition (New York: Thames
& Hudson, 2000), 56.

12 Bourriaud, Relational~esthetics, 21.










the art of appearance."13 Pinpointing, labeling, and explaining an evoloving art of

communication obviously confuses the "old order." Ascott states, "Judgment, discernment,

selection, rej section, sifting, and sorting takes time. Particularly if you have absolutely no idea

what is going on, with no criteria, no values, no consensual base relevant to the new digital

phenomena to make judgments from."14 Along with the artistic communication process comes

the need for the sustainability of the network for that communication and a sincere effort to

inform users of how the process of communication actually works, so that the process is not one

of stylization and mystification like many of the works mentioned earlier. Yet, it is this aspect of

New Media that is most absent from all forms, whether truly participatory or not. New Media

must not be afraid to explain itself. When it neglects to do so, institutional sensationalizing tends

to supplant usership.

Contributing to the Virtual Whole

To correctly understand New Media art that uses the Internet for networking purposes,

before judging it, one must be reminded of the "new" conceptual ability of the Internet. Brian

Holmes in "Archive and Experience: Imagining the Forum" claims:

The internet is a distribution system, as broadcast technologies were in the past, but also a
distributed system, which is a very different thing. It is both a set of sophisticated
conduits for delivering messages to far-off receivers, and a disjunct, virtual whole that
can only function through the cooperation of its distant parts. 1

For networked art on the internet this means distant parts, or worldwide users, should be able to

directly affect the 'virtual whole,' or the artistic/creative body of the work itself. For users to



13 Roy Ascott, "From Appearance to Apparition," Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories ofArt, Technology, and
Consciousness, eds. Edward A. Shanken (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 282.

14 Ascott, Mlinld of the Museum, 344.

1s Brian Holmes, "Archive and Experience: Imagining the Forum," Interaction: Artistic
Practice in the Network, eds. Amy Scholder and Jordan Crandall (New York: Distributed Art Publishers, 2001), 8.










experience how they are affecting the virtual whole in real time along with processing the effects

of other users' input, then the work tends to relate this process best as a visual form. This does

not mean that all collaborative communal proj ects taking place on the Net require visually

stimulating graphics. Douglas Davis' The World's First Collaborative Sentence (1994) instead

retains a literary form as the work's title suggests. Although this work successfully uses the Net' s

connectivity to allow participation amongst many users, its reliance on only the written word

confines users' ability to communicate within the ideological boundaries of language. Not to

suggest language is not an effective means for communication, but within New Media coupling

language with more creative visual communication holds more hope for newer results. Perhaps

this triggers a naive return to the utopian idealism of early Modernism, but with the newer

connectivity of the Net old sentiments may have new hope. For example, Christa Sommerer and

Laurent Mignonneau' s Verbarium is "an interactive text-to-form editor on the Internet" where

the online user "can choose to write text messages and each of these messages functions as a

genetic code to create a visual three-dimensional form."16 This work facilitates direct cognitive

interaction from many users while allowing a visual form to morph based on the network's

various textual input. The infinite possibilities for the visual to change with the networks

interactions distinguishes this work from a static authored obj ect, such as the work of Fiengold,

Viola, Shaw, or Mongrel. However, this work too lacks a New M~edia' s true sense of usership

because of its inability to specifically relate to its users its technological process and its delivery

of content to singular receivers. In other words, users are not genuinely communicating, or

creating a sense of community, by passively typing textual messages, while those messages

mystically transform into an individualized visual representation. In this scenario the work

16 Peter Weibel and Timothy Druckrey, eds., Net Condition: 4rt and Global Media, (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001),
227.










creates the virtual whole in its aesthetic form (via authored algorithms), while users simply

supply data that transforms it (similar to Shaw' s installation Web ofLife). Foster notes the artistic

mistake of the authored process that transforms interaction into visual representations for the

sake of communication amongst users,

As with previous attempts to involve the audience directly (in some abstract painting or
some conceptual art), there is a risk of illegibility here, which might reintroduce the artist
as the principal figure and the primary exegete of the work. At times, 'the death of the
author' has meant not 'the birth of the reader,' as Roland Barthes speculated, so much as
the befuddlement of the viewer. 1

This sense of illegibility results from the mystifieation of technology that comes with artists' use

of high-tech graphics and algorithmic animation that are unknown and unexplained to users. Not

that Verbarium is as detached from usership as a work like Black .1/\lrlsl Stock2arket

Planetarium basing its digital image, or virtual whole, on data such as the stock market, but

uninformed users are not affective ones. If the work could allow its virtual whole to fluctuate

visually with user interaction while explaining the process of change to users, while also striving

to involve as many users as possible, then it would truly be a work of New Media--or at least

media subverting the restrictions of old media.

"New" Worthy

Appearing in the 2006 Whitney Biennial catalogue, Siva Vaidhyanathan's "The

Technocultural Imagination: Life, Art, and Politics in the Age of Total Connectivity" suggests:

In the first decade of the twenty-first century, the process of archiving and preserving
have been distributed and democratized. So has the ability to remix and mash up sounds
and images. With limited investment, people can generate powerful new forms of
communication and cultural expression and distribute them globally at no marginal cost.
The long-term effects of this power are unclear. I

17 Foster, 194.

1s Siva Vaidhranathan, "The Technocultural Imagination: Life, Art and Politics in the Age of Total Connectivity,"
Whitney Museum of 4merican 4rt. Biennial (2006): Day For ;~in eds. Chrissie Iles and Philippe Vergne (New
York: Whitney Museum of American Art: Distributed by H.N. Abrams, 2006), 135.











Of course any power emerging from this ability to remix under Bourriad' s concept of post-

production exists only when the artistic communication process occurs communally. The Net

accommodates this process by networking users, while allowing them to affect the virtual whole,

or artwork, comprised of such "mashed-up" sounds and images. Formally, the mash-up resulting

from the visual communication of many users resembles a montage. Yet this form of montage is

constantly in flux and without a unified sense of authorship, and thus is not so formal at all.

Instead of a resulting art obj ect, or image, the assemblage of a networked New Media, based on

the creative input of users, leaves an imprint of what a network and the act of creative interaction

looks like.

This visual realization of a network' s connectivity was attempted also within earlier

projects examining old media, such as that of television. In Feedback: Television Against

Democracy, David Joselit often references the attempts of Nam June Paik to democratize the

medium of television by subverting its unidirectional broadcasting of fixated imagery and

narratives. In reference to Paik' s Exposition ofExperimental Television Joselit states:

In contrast to the standard structure of the network as a centralized source of information
that is uniformly broadcast to a multitude of individual receivers, Paik customized a
microcosmic network in which each TV receiver would decode the signal in its own
way. 1

The result of this type of proj ect is a "plurality of data streams," or visual variants to the

broadcasted images/narratives, which in some cases could be manipulated by the viewer.20

Warping television' s commodity imagery, as in the work Magnet TV, which showed such data

streams as digital waves moving across the screen due to a magnet placed onto of the receiver,21


19 David Joselit, Feedback: Television Against Democracy (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2007), 11-13.

20 Ibid, 13-14.

21 Ibid, 75.










predates the mashing-up of audio visual materials in the era of post-production. Just as a desire

to transform television's unidirectional messages was based on an attempt to democratically

"open circuits"22 via a participatory dimension for television, artistic communication on the Net

democratically demands an open network in which to participate and interact.

The closest example of a work appropriately deemed New Media through its open

network, separation from institutional influence and old models of authorship, and sincere

facilitation of creative artistic communication amongst affective users, is Andy Deck' s Glyphiti

(2001). By either accessing the URL directly or simply searching the title under any search

engine, one can connect to the work immediately without linking through any sort of curatorial

protocol. When Glyphiti is accessed, a large screen divided in half appears on top of a plain grey

background. The left side of the screen begins to download (depending on the speed of the

Internet connection) into a grid-like structure of black and white text and image. The right side of

the split screen shows a page as blank as either a freshly started word processing document, or

blank canvas, depending on the user' s creative intentions. As the images within the grid-like

composition all appear on the screen it becomes clear that nothing exists on the page except for

the two screens (the blank one and the black and white montage). No directions, no links, no

attributions to sponsors, and no reference to the artist are anywhere visible. At first a user might

seem confused, which has been argued is the strategy of high-tech compositions posing as New

Media, such as the work of Viola. Yet because of its low-tech nature, any user who has ever used

a computer with a mouse can simply click a few times to understand the communication process

at work. On the left screen, any of the boxes appearing within the grid can be clicked on with the

mouse to become enlarged on the right screen. The user can then alter that image on the right


22Joselit, 41.










side screen with simple clicks of the mouse (left clicking-drawing feature and right

clicking-erasure). If an image is not chosen from the grid screen on the left, the user simply

works on a blank white screen as mentioned before. The drawing feature is as simple as any

artistic computer software. When the user clicks and drags the cursor, a black line will emerge on

the white glow of the screen, or the whole screen can be colored black and then "erased" white

lines can become the drawn lines. That is the only available artistic tool, yet incredibly rendered

digital drawings can be found on Glyphiti at almost any time (the montage is ever-changing).

Karl D.D. Willis suggests that Glyphiti

[a]chieves an optimum balance between the difficulty of the interaction and the range of
possible creative outcomes. By restricting interaction to a simple black & white grid, the
user has a comfortable and easily controlled framework within which to create. Yet
within that narrowly defined structure, the creative possibilities are all but endless.23

The work' s low-tech quality, in terms of easy usership and a lack of souped-up digital

information aesthetics (such as the imperceptible ones of Viola), create a welcoming experience

for any user, anywhere in the world, at any given time. Users do not need to be educated on the

work' s process, as was suggested earlier with Verbarium, because unlike Verbarium, users not

only see the process of Glyphiti at work, but they partake in its aesthetic construction as well.

The look of social interaction is not necessarily coherent, as the work takes on a chatroom-esque

quality with unrelated dialogues, cartoons, insignia, political statements, and even ongoing chess

games taking place. To apply Hansen's "bodily vision" to this work, one could not say that the

user' s body is profoundly affected in any way with the mere computer screen delivering the

work, yet what is clear is that the mind sees the presence of many other human beings.





23 Karl D.D. Willis, "User Authorship and Creativity within Interactivity," MULTIMEDL4 '06: Proceedings of the
14th annual 4CM~nternational Conference on Mzdtimedia (New York: ACM Press, 2006), 734.










Glyphiti differs from Paik' s participatory subversion of broadcasted television imagery

within various TV screens, simply because it has two screens--one of the communal montage

and one of the users' creative contributions. In other words, with the television screen a user

could view the image he/she was distorting, but not the contributions of others, unless all the

screens were confined to one physical site (installation). The Net allows for both the user' s

interaction and the interaction of other users to be experienced simultaneously in virtual space.

Manovich refers to "the coexistence of a number of overlapping windows" as essential for the

Graphic User Interface of a modern computer and suggests:

A window interface has more to do with modern graphic design, which treats a page as a
collection of different but equally important blocks of data such as text, images, and
graphic elements, than with the cinematic screen.24

These simultaneous windows of "blocks of data" comprise Glyphiti's composition and suggest

that the directive/authorial frame of the cinematic, or televisual, screen loses its authority within

New Media to an interactive virtual whole of many simultaneous screens representing many

producers.

According to the ramifications set forth here for the New Media artwork, Glyphiti could

in fact be criticized for its visual or formalistic presentation of interaction. However, the work is

only experienced as an image (obj ect) when it is presented outside of the Net as a snapshot of the

site. While the two screens are present as intended, the left side screen reminds the viewer that

the work is one of usership and the blank white screen on the right begs for participation. And

unlike works like Verbarium, Glyphiti clearly makes use of both language and image, which

breaks with any aesthetic agenda, such as the DOS-based visuals of Jodi.org. Yet under the





24Manovich, 97.










maj ority of theories centered on genuine participation within contemporary art, one might find

one crucial point of criticism within Glyphiti--where is its call for action?

Many suggest that works such as Glyphiti represent a utopian ideal of community, since

it only exists visually within virtual space. Hostility towards the utopian aims of any abstract art

form has appeared through art' s history, specifically during Modernism. For example, before the

critical acceptance of American abstract painting, the Regionalism of Thomas Hart Benton was

held to be a much more social art than the Abstract Expressionism of Jackson Pollock. Yet art

historian Erika Doss explains that both styles of painting were "not about complacency or

satisfaction--but of the struggle for a new and better world."25 The key difference is that Benton

puts forth an easy-to-read narrative, whereas Pollock refuses one altogether. The narrative within

art history clearly embodies a model of authorship and old media's need to broadcast ideologies

out toward a multitude of singular receivers. Surprisingly, narrative also exists within alleged

New Media works that proudly declare themselves participatory. The organization RTMark (or

RTMark.com) bases itself on its ability to ignite political action amongst its many viewers.

Although the site may have, as it claims, "found ways of uniting actions comparable to

performance, environmental and installation art with practical acts of subversion,"26 the site

functions as author selling ideas onto a mass of viewers. Unlike Glyphiti, directly on RTMark' s

homepage reads, "NOTICE: THIS DOCUMENT IS THE INTTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF

RTMARK, INTC. Usa e im lies areement to terms."27 The word "terms" is underlined because

it functions as a hyperlink, which, when followed, reminds the viewer that RTMark is a



25Erika Doss, Benton, Pollock, and the Politics of Modernism From Regionalism to Abstract Expressionism
(Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1991), 349.
26 Stallabrass, Internet 4rt, 91.

27 RTMark, "Homepage," b1lip w\ il \t .rtmark.com (accessed July 30 2007).










corporation (a bit hypocritical for a proclaimed anti-capitalist organization), and like a

corporation, RTMark protects its assets, such as its software. In stark contrast to Glyphiti, which

has no disclaimers or license agreements, RTMark reminds the viewer that "REPRODUCTION

OR REDISTRIBUTION OF THE SOFTWARE IS PROHIBITED EXCEPT AS PROVIDED

FOR IN THE APPLICABLE LICENSE AGREEMENT."28 RTMark's messages are not only

authored, but protected as intellectual property, and this distribution of broadcasted ideas for

subversive acts holds the same degree of interaction and participation as the reading of a

manifesto. Whether idealistic or not, the creation of a sense of community, such as that of

Glyphiti, represents New Media' s ideal of usership more so than a corporation' s authored calls

for action.

The interactive creative communication taking place on Glyphiti offers a sense of

community outside of a centralized locale, which benefits all who participate. As its description

along with its title might indicate, Glyphiti resembles the premise of earlier graffiti art. However,

users do not need to Eind any specific physical wall to contribute to this collective art process.

Users' relationships with media are changed under this exemplary work of New Media. The

message is not delivered or broadcast, and the artistic content is not authored or constructed in

any way. The work functions as facilitation for an artistic communication. There can be a textual

call for action within the work, or there can be a formalist masterpiece appearing within the grid.

Such possibilities differ from popularized forms of communication over the Net. Despite its

prevalence, e-mail is not a collective forum of communication. And an e-mail artwork would

have the same process as mail art, with a single receiver changing a collective message and then

passing it on to the next receiver. Popular chatrooms offer a collective forum, but only for textual


28RTMark, "Terms of Use," b1lip w\ il \t .rtmark.com/rtcom.php/terms (accessed July 30 2007).









exchange. The simultaneity of the collective and individual windows within Glyphiti shows both

occurring communal contributions in the grid and the user' s own window of endless creative

possibilities to contribute.

An Old Conclusion for a New Art

After the Internet seemed to loose its democratic potential of social connectivity, efforts

that sought to commercialize and close the open social network of the Net resulted in a

conceptual restriction of New Media art in both theory and practice. Just as Minimalism quickly

responded to the rise of collective artistic communication of Mail Art, New Media theories

centered on institutional-specifieity promoting digital art obj ects and closed networks redefined

the type of communication and sense of participation the New Media artwork was expected to

offer. As a result works that brought digital information to old mediums such as sculpture, video

and photography took prominent placement in both cultural spaces and New Media discourse.

Not only were New Media rej ecting the connectivity of Net altogether by retaining an art-obj ect

status, but even works on the Net used it as a closed network based on inhuman data as opposed

to the input of users. Unfortunately, it still seems to be the case that New Media works are forces

into old media distribution systems, which guarantees their status as old media works severed

from any connectivity or communal networking.

The first decade of the new millennium offers improved channels of human

communication systems due to the progressive advancements of technology. The maj ority of

lives in contemporary society are possibly affected most by the technological contributions of

accessibility to immediate worldwide communication systems. The constant developments in

telecommunications can now include any media and almost any type of information into any

message traveling through virtual space (even medical exams can be conducted online now). The









art of New Media should offer a society struggling to stay at pace with advanced technology

alternative social uses for that technology, along with newer artistic forms of interaction.

Many would argue that interaction has existed throughout the history of art. However,

interaction can simply be a work' s ability to change in some, whether through human

participants, or technological reconfiguration. Usership, exists as a form of interaction based on a

continuing process of change that comes from a multitude of human producers equally affecting

the work. Artistically this can only be found in New Media works such as Glyphiti that offer a

simultaneity of windows, which suggests a simultaneity of users affecting the work at the same

time while not only experiencing their own interaction with the work, but also the simultaneous

creative contributions of others. Social intent also emerged in art' s history long before the Net

enabled New Media works. Yet as seen with RTMark, if social intent is based on a one-way

distribution of authorship, it retains old philosophies examining relationships other than an

artistic community. Whether a community-based form of art, such as relational art, will be able

to drastically improve social relations will depend on artists' ability to facilitate desirable

communal experiences of new artistic communication.

Communally affective usership can exist when possible with new communication

technologies if those technologies conceptually relate media in newer, more democratic ways.

Artistic attempts to technologically transform the old art obj ect with questionably "new"

contributions are far less accommodating to a newer society with the capability and desire to

interact socially in new ways. Understanding past attempts in the history of art to facilitate as

past sense of usership is crucial in evaluating New Media, because those attempts failed under

the dominance of old media distribution systems. For example, Nam June Paik's attempt to make

the distribution of television imagery a socially participatory process predated New Media like










Glyphiti. However, because of the unilateral, or undemocratic, distribution system of mass

media, the Paik's television screens needed to all be at one site (installation) in order for

participants to see their creative contributions amongst the contributions of others. Knowing this,

Glyphiti could later implement two windows offering simultaneous experiences of a user' s own

creative input along with the input of many other users without needed any physical site to do so.

In other words, art history was the best way to determine a 'new' use of media. Yet art history's

older formalist evaluative tools cannot be applied to New Media' s conceptual art of process. As

artists facilitate creative new systems of communication, as opposed to authored content, the

sustainability of the communities that form around such artistic communication determines the

success of a new mediated process. Perhaps art history has never been as important to the

contemporary moment as it is now, with the current need to establish if and how media are

creatively being used in genuinely newer ways.









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Friedman, Ken. "The Wealth and Poverty of Networks." In At a Distance: Precursors to Art and
Activism on the Internet. Edited by Annmarie Chandler, and Norie Neumark. Cambridge:
MIT Press, 2005.

Green, Rachel. Internet Art. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2004.

Hansen, Mark B.N. New Philosophy for New M~edia. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004.

Hardt, Negri, and Antonio Negri. Empire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000.

Held, John, Jr. "The Mail Art Exhibition: Personal Worlds to Cultural Strategies." In At a
Distance: Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet. Edited by Annmarie Chandler,
and Norie Neumark. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005.

Holmes, Brian. "Archive and Experience: Imagining the Forum." In
Interaction: Artistic Practice in the Network. Edited by Amy Scholder with Jordan
Crandall. New York: Distributed Art Publishers, 2001.

Janko, Siegbert. "The Spirit of Linz." In Ars Electronica, 1979-2004: The Networkfor Art,
Technology and Society: The First 25 Years. Edited by Hannes Leopoldseder, Christine
Schoipf, and Gerfried Stocker. Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2004.

Joselit, David. Feedback: Television Against Democracy. Cambrid ge: MIT Press, 2007.

Krauss, Rosalind. A Voyage on the North Sea: Art in the Age of the Post-M~edium Condition.
New York: Thames & Hudson, 2000.

Manovich, Lev. The Language of New M~edia. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001.

Morris, Robert. "Notes on Sculpture, Part 2." In Continuous Project Altered Daily: The Writings
ofRobert2~orris. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1993.

NetConditionArt and Global M~edia. Edited by Peter Weibel and Timothy Druckrey.
Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001. Published in conjunction with the exhibitions
"Net Condition" and "Art and Global Media" at ZKM Center for Art and Media.

Owens, Craig. "From Work to Frame, or, Is There Life After "The Death of the Author?"" In
Beyond Recognition: Representation, Power, and Culture. Edited by Scott Bryson, Babara
Kruger, Lynne Tillman, and Jane Weinstock. Berkeley: University of California Press,
1992.

Paul, Christiane. Digital Art. London: Thames & Hudson, 2003.

Rutsky, R.L. High Techne. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999.

Saper, Craig J. Networked Art. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001.










Saper, Craig. "Networked Psychoanalysis: A Dialogue with Anna Freud Banana." In At a
Distance: Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet. Edited by Annmarie Chandler,
and Norie Neumark. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005.

Smith, Owen F. "Fluxus Praxis: An Exploration of Connections, Creativity, and Community." In
At a Distance: Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet. Edited by Annmarie
Chandler, and Norie Neumark. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005.

Stallabrass, Julian. Art Incorporated: The Story of Contemporary Art. Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2004.

Stallabrass, Julian. Internet Art: The Online Clash of Culture and Commerce. London: Tate
Publishing, 2003.

Vaidhyanathan, Siva. "The Technocultural Imagination: Life, Art and Politics in the Age of
Total Connectivity." In Whitney M~useum ofAmerican Art. Biennial (2006): Day For
Night. Edited by Chrissie Iles and Philippe Vergne. New York: Whitney Museum of
American Art: Distributed by H.N. Abrams, 2006.

Willis, Karl D.D. "User Authorship and Creativity within Interactivity." In MULTMEDIAA '06:
Proceedings of the 14th Annual ACM International Conference on M~ultimedia. New Y ork:
ACM Press, 2006.









BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Justin R. Warner received his bachelor' s degree in art history and corporate media from

James Madison University. Before coming to the University of Florida, he worked as an intern at

both the Corcoran Gallery and also the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. He earned his

Master of Arts at the University of Florida in 2007.





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1 A NEWER USE OF MEDIA: REEVALUA TING NEW MEDIA WITH USERSHIP By JUSTIN R. WARNER A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2007

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2 2007 Justin R. Warner

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3 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ..............4 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION: USERSHIP AS NEW USE FOR MEDIA...............................................6 The Early Net and the Call for Community..............................................................................8 Incompatibility with Institutional Space.................................................................................10 Reevaluating New Media.......................................................................................................12 2 AN EARLIER RIFT BETWEEN COMMUNAL AND INSTITUTIONAL ART................13 3 NEW OBJECTS FO R OLD SPACES....................................................................................18 Formalism of the Database.....................................................................................................22 Digital Environments for Non-digital Spaces.........................................................................25 New Media Restricting T echnological Advancement............................................................27 Technological Amusement Parks...........................................................................................32 4 CLOSING THE NETWORK.................................................................................................35 Network as Installation........................................................................................................ ...38 Institutional Presence on the Net: Curating Virtual Space.....................................................43 5 BECOMING NEW MEDIA................................................................................................49 New Criteria for Judgment.....................................................................................................53 Contributing to the Virtual Whole ..........................................................................................54 New Worthy................................................................................................................... .....56 An Old Conclusion for a New Art..........................................................................................63 LIST OF REFERENCES............................................................................................................. ..66 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.........................................................................................................69

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4 Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts A NEWER USE OF MEDIA: REEVALUA TING NEW MEDIA WITH USERSHIP By Justin R. Warner December 2007 Chair: Alexander Alberro Major: Art History The majority of literature on New Media confines networked art (typically Net Art, or art on the Internet) to a small subcat egory outside of a larger body of a spectacularized object-based New Media. When reevaluating New Media by way of its ability to interact with or evoke sincere participation from users, the majority of artistic aims and intent do not appear to be conceptually innovative in their ability to communicate. Successf ul New Media must prove itself different from Old Media, or mass media, by engaging social relations, which Old Media neglected. Therefore, successful New Me dia art must strive to evolve the viewers of earlier spectatorship models of art into users through a heightened dimens ion of participation. Although many theories offer divisions of types of New Me dia art, the only way to determine whether an artwork belongs to the genre of New Media is to ascertain whet her a user merely responds to some form of digitally construc ted content, or actually communicates with other users (human beings) in a socially affective manner. Some theorists contest references to New Medi a art as a specific medium or category like video art, because it can include any form of audiovisual medi a or medium especially when presented over the Internet. But more importantly than di stinguishing the various media represented on the Net, is the way in which they are used in tandem with the Nets networking

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5 capabilities to facilitate social interaction. In opposition to the older delivery systems of cultural spaces, the Internet can be used as New Media via interaction that encourages the work to continually change with communal input. But work s on the Net can also be appropriated into Old Media if unilaterally dispersed as authored content. Simply put, only works using the Net can facilitate a sincere model of usership, and thus only works on the Net shou ld be considered New Media. Yet because any medium can exist on th e Net, Old Media works without any sense of usership and critically mistaken for New Media ar e unfortunately just as prevalent on the Net as they are in museums and galleries. The history of art offers many ex amples of earlier attempts to bring a social dimension to art, but when di stributing artistic conten t through unidirectional distribution systems the facilitati on of a communal art process is restricted. The Net allows for both the users interactio n and the interaction of other users to be experienced simultaneously in virtual space. This is the only new aspect of New Media.

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6 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION: USERSHIP AS NEW USE FOR MEDIA If the spectacle, taken in the limited sens e of mass media which are its most glaring superficial manifestation, seems to invade society as mere equipment, this equipment is in no way neutral but is the very means suited to its total self-movement. If the social needs of the epoch in which such technique s are developed can onl y be satisfied through their mediation, if the admini stration of this society and all contact among men can no longer take place except through the intermed iary of this power of instantaneous communication, it is because this comm unication is essentially unilateral.1 Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle Even now the contemporary art world conti nues to demand a resuscitation of a linear progression of art and its hist ory. This philosophical demand for a constant developmental newness for art loses more and more relevanc e with each decade since Modernism. Luckily for those who profit from an art based on ne wness, New Media can add seemingly new technological features to old art objects. The luxury art object of old now shin es brighter in the age of HDTV and might even wal k, talk, or offer new digital worlds. The common presumption that all New Media allegedly in teract in some technologically rudimentary way seems to mask the many attempts at using New Media to serve as a new movement or style for the old art object. By examining the theories of what exactly constitutes the categoriza tion of New Media, it becomes quite clear that not al l art under this nomenclature share a similar newness. Simply digitizing the art object with ba sic computing functions to guaran tee its survival, along with the institutions that house it, surely is not the signifier of New Medi as revolutionary status. Instead, successful New Media must prove itself different from Old Medi a (mass media) by facilitating social interactions, which Old Me dia neglected. Therefore, successf ul New Media art must strive 1 Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle (Detroit: Black & Red, 1983), Paragraph 24.

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7 to evolve the viewers of earlier spectatorship models of art into users through a heightened dimension of participation. Most promising in their pursuit of particip ation, or usership, are the New Media works that rely on open communication, or networking, to produce the actua l art (to the extent that the work is in constant flux based on communal i nput). The artistic commu nication, or networked art, produced on the Internet functions in a way that contests ar ts history of treating artworks as finalized objects. The beginning of the twenty-fir st century is described by Nicolas Bourriaud as an age of postproduction, where art must disr egard the formalist demand for newer/purer art under the direction of Greenberg ian modernism, and instead f unction as an editing table, reorganizing earlier forms.2 Postproductive art relies heavily on reproducibility, and it is reproducibility that most threatens a formal c ontinuation from modernism within contemporary art. Because reproducibility and postproduction are e ssentially a recycling process, the art is the process of reorganizing and re -presenting these recycled fo rms as opposed to creating yet another art object proclaimed an original. Some theorists contest references to New Medi a art as a specific medium or category like video art, because it can include any form of audiovisual medi a or medium especially when presented over the Internet. But more importantly than di stinguishing the various media represented on the Net, is the way in which they are used in tandem with the Nets networking capabilities. New Medias use of various mediums/medias on the Net can either facilitate a process of communication or distribute a more fi nalized/authored statement. In other words, the Net can be used as New Media via interaction that encourages the work to change with 2 Nicolas Bourriad, Postproduction: Culture as Screenplay: How Art Reprograms the World. (New York: Lukas & Sternberg, 2002), 72.

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8 communal input or can be appropr iated into Old Media via a unila teral dispersal of authored content. Although many theories offer divisions of types of New Media art, the only way to determine whether an artwork belongs to the genr e of New Media is to ascertain whether a user merely responds to some form of digitally cons tructed content, or actually communicates with other users (human beings) in a socially affec tive manner. Simply put, only works using the Net can facilitate a sincere model of usership, and thus only wo rks on the Net should be considered New Media. Yet because any medium can exist on the Net, Old Media works without any sense of usership and mistaken for New Media are unfor tunately just as prevalent on the Net as they are in museums and galleries. Older art movements like Fluxus and Mail Art sou ght conceptual aims similar to that of usership. Even before computers became publicly networked, non-electronic networks existed within these movements as well. In these projects the communicat ions between those involved in art-based networks became the actual art, with few or no representative objects. So how is New Media networked art different from the olde r network art of Mail Art by artists like Ray Johnson? The answer is again one of communi cation. Because both Mail Art and New Media are both based on processes of co mmunication neither require any specific physical space. Yet whereas Mail Art would have a singular partic ipant receiving visual communication and then contributing to that visual message before se nding it onto another singul ar receiver, New Media allow for the visual message to morph in real ti me so that all users simultaneously affect the work in a communal sense. This is th e only new aspect of New Media art. The Early Net and the Call for Community The demand for participation/usership within the realm of New Me dia art arose at the time of its inception. When public usage of the In ternet and the Web began to boom in the 1990s

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9 a socially conscious art reemerged that Bourriad labeled relational art, with relational aesthetics serving as the basis fo r its evaluation. Bourriad states: The possibility of a relational art (an art taking as its theoretical horizon the realm of human interactions and its social context, rath er than the assertion of an independent and private symbolic space), points to a radical uphe aval of the aesthetic, cultural and political goals introduced by modern art.3 Therefore, relational art not only refuses the formalist progression of modernism, but also rejects the physical spaces that were necessary to house an art of objects. Because relational art depends more on exchange and interaction than formalist qualities, its existence is never finite or restricted, but instead constantly changing depending upon continued interaction with its audience. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri philo sophically locate this ch aracteristic as the immeasurable.4 They aver that [t]he omnilateral expansiveness of the power to act demonstrates the ontological basi s of transvaluation, that is, its capacity not only to destroy the values that descend from the transcendental re alm of measure but also to create new values.5 The new value that comes from the immeasurable and also coincides with Bourriads relational aesthetics is that of constructi ng community. The power to do so, according to Hardt and Negri, rests on the multitude, which is opposed by the imperial power of government that seeks to disrupt it.6 So then, if Bourriad offers a relational art that mirrors the multitudes project of community, there must too be a socially rest rictive art that perpetuates imperial powers disruption of community (most likely by disrup ting communication). These two camps blatantly compete in the realm of New Media. Within the 1990s a shift in perception towards the 3 Nicolas Bourriad, Relational Aesthetics trans. Simon Pleasance & Fronza Woods with Mathieu Copeland. (France: Les presses du rel, 2002), 14. 4 Thomas Hardt and Antonio Negri. Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000), 355. 5 Hardt/Negri, 359. 6 Ibid, 360.

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10 communicative capabilities of the Internet o ccurred, which highlighted a censuring of the multitudes ability to act. Christiane Paul states: The commercial colonialization of the Inte rnet and the ensuing dot com craze and demise, now commonly associated with the WWW, began only in the late 1990s, and art on the Internet is in many ways character ized by the tension between the philosophy of the free information space and the proximity to a commercial context.7 As a result of this colonialization, New Media s hope for community with in the Net seemed less and less realistic and the gallery space on ce again seemed like a better venue for a commercialized techno art void of so cial interactivity. S hortly after th is loss of hope emerged an abundance of New Media theories that dropped discussion over the democratic use of new communication technologi es and limited references to open networks. Incompatibility with Institutional Space Institutionalized cultural spaces seek an in teraction dependent upon th e necessity of their specific site, which negates an open network a nd retards the construction of community. The type of New Media favored by institutional spaces retains a user-to-object model of communication, as opposed to user-to other users Genuinely participatory work being produced on the Internet separates itself from a museum or gallery setti ng in order to evoke artistic communication in a free and open space that adhe res to no institutionally ideological boundaries. The old institutional practice of educating the public does not jus tify the inclusion of New Media that use usership to build community into in stitutional spaces. Because genuine New Media based on usership communally connects users be yond physical spaces, to force that virtual community into a physical space seems like a st range anthropological atte mpt to sensationalize Internet culture. In successful New Media the ar tists role is to create easily accessible and understandable creative communication that does not require any curatorial explanation. Artists 7 Christiane Paul. Digital Art (London: Thames & Hudson, 2003),112.

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11 now must take on the role of educator by teaching their art of process to the public of virtual space. Therefore, the only part of New Media that could be related to th e public by the institution would be the link to the virtual site of communa l interaction. Obviously putting a URL inside of a museum makes little to no sense. Unless the in stitutional space functions at a level of simply supplying connected computers for users to choose pr ojects to participate i n, the agenda is most likely to direct interaction to a specific site, or project, promoting the institutions interests. Andreas Broeckmann exemplifies the worst case s cenario of curatorial efforts to appropriate Net art into the institutional si te with the WWW part of the Documenta X art exhibition in Kassel/Germany in 1997.8 Broeckmann references the exhi bitions Web projects as running offline and in a sad grey-and-white pseudo-office, and warns, Do this if you want to prevent your audience from understanding wh at network art might be about.9 Better advice would be to disregard any curatorial effort s that might appropriate netw orked communication into an installation that is dependent upon physical space in which to e xhibit and distor t the work. New Medias place outside of the museum and ga llery is not necessarily an institutional critique itself. Unlike Michael As hers 1974 removal of a wall at the Claire Copley Gallery in Los Angeles, which was meant to open up a dealers office for public scrutiny,10 the communal project of New Media should exist completely outside of any institutional space. New Media based on connectivity and interaction o ffers neither good nor bad publicity to the institutional space, as it simply thrives beyond its walls. Of course, imperial walls always attract 8 Andreas Broeckmann, Are You Online? Pres ence and Participati on in Network Art, Ars Electronica: Facing the Future: A Survey of Two Decades ed. Timothy Druckrey with Ars Electronica (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999), 439. 9 Broeckmann, 439. 10 Craig Owens, From Work to Frame, or, Is Th ere Life After The Death of the Author?, Beyond Recognition: Representation, Power, and Culture eds. Scott Bryson, Babara Kruger, Lynne Tillman, and Jane Weinstock. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), 133-4.

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12 the most attention, and so the only real new media based on social networking is usually drowned out by the wave of technologically overw helming, or spectacularize d, digital works that function well within an institutional framework. This theoretically populist form of New Media injects unilateral communication, or machine code, between human and machine, that contains premeditated/authored responses for users. Bu t works using old media s unilateral model of authorship (similar to that of Modernism) are not truly New Media in th eir directorial use of interaction. This does not suggest an eradication of the artists ro le, but simply changes it from a practice of authoring to one of f acilitating. The artists role could not be more pivotal at this time to offer an alternative to old medias sy stem of mass distributive communication. Reevaluating New Media The following will serve as an examination of the many forms that fall under the guise of New Media in order to address wh ere participation is either a ge nuine concern or a strategically restrictive form of user-toobject communication. The majority of literature on New Media confines networked art (typically Net Art, or ar t on the Internet) to a sm all subcategory outside of a larger body of a spectacula rized type of New Media. But here the most theoretically referenced New Media work will be reevaluated primar ily by way of its ability to interact with or evoke sincere participation from users. The seemingly all-inclus ive category of New Media will be dismantled to show that a majority of artistic aims and intent within the New Media genre are not conceptually innovative and ar e in fact quite limite d in their ability to communicate in new ways. The chapters that follow will track a progression from questionable New Media with a limited sense of usership to the be st current examples of what can truly be considered new uses of media and technology in art.

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13 CHAPTER 2 AN EARLIER RIFT BETWEEN COMMUNAL AND INSTITUTIONAL ART In this age of museums, when artistic communication can no longer exist, all the former moments of art can be admitted equally, becau se they no longer suffer from the loss of their specific conditions of communication in the current general loss of conditions of communication.1 Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle Although communally networked New Media f unctions as the only contemporary new use of media, comparisons must be made with the older network art circulating through the mail before artistic communication co uld begin to travel digitally through wires. More than two decades before public accessibility to the Intern et emerged, the mail offered an escape from the museum/gallery space with a system for both artistic distribution and interaction. When Ray Johnsons New York Correspondance School was st arted in 1962, its network-based affiliation opposed the institutionally favored formalism of Modernism. One of Minimalisms main producers and theorists, Robert Morris, descri bes the intended experien ce of the Minimalist work: One is more aware than before that he hi mself is establishing relationships as he apprehends the object from various positions and under varying conditions of light and spatial context. Every internal relationship, whet her it be set up by a structural division, a rich surface, or what have you, reduces the public external quality of the object and tends to eliminate the viewer to the degree that these details pull him into an intimate relation with the work and out of the space in which the object exists.2 This internal relationship then exists only between the individua l, the art object, and the space that is housing it. Therefore, acco rding to Morris, the Minimalist ar t object functions to transcend the viewer from the public aspect of the museum or gallery space. Of course, in opposition to 1 Debord, Society Paragraph 189. 2 Robert Morris, Notes on Sculpture, Part 2, Continuous Project Altered Daily: The Writings of Robert Morris (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1993), 15.

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14 the emerging practice of Mail Art, Minimalism demanded institutional spaces due to the sitespecific nature of its larger, industrialized art objects. Al exander Alberro locates a specific instance of a museums attempt to preserve the object-oriented lexicon of the New York avantgarde with the display and organization of th e Sixth Guggenheim International Exhibition of 1971.3 He states that by requesting that the artists invited to pa rticipate produce a site-specific work which used the context of display as a point of departure, the Museum linked the artworks in the International with an artistic pr actice closely identified with Minimalism.4 The link between Minimalism and site specificity, which clearly favored the institutional interests of museums, offered not only a progression of formalis t practices, but also the need for a physical space to fulfill the art objects transcendental ne eds. Site specificity, or at least institutional specificity, and identifiable authorship are need s of the institution (as much today as in the 1960s), as they both serve its market-driven need s. Art historian Anna C. Chave, commenting on Minimalist art practice, states, Though the artis ts depersonalized their modes of production to the furthest extent, they would not surrender the financial and ot her prerogatives of authorship, including those of es tablishing authenticity.5 Even if the artistic proc ess seemed more closely aligned to the operations of a factory, the factory managers name deemed it art for the institution. It would be historically inaccu rate to suggest that Mail Art, such as that of the NYCS, always offered the same open and communally actio n-oriented participation called for today by 3 Alexander Alberro, The Turn of the Screw: Daniel Duren, Dan Flavin, and the Sixth Guggenheim International Exhibition, October Vol. 80 (Spring, 1997), 65. 4 Ibid. 5 Anna C. Chave, Minimalism and the Rhetoric of Power. Arts Magazine Vol. 64, (Jan. 1990), 55.

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15 Hardt/Negri and Bourriad. Acco rding to art critic Arthur Da nto, The Correspondance Schools letters often ornamented by simp le drawings or by stick-ons, usua lly instructed the recipient to perform some fairly simple action.6 Such authoritative directio ns (also found on many artistic websites today) were communicatin g through a form of authorship that limited ar tistic outcomes. As long as the communication and the network are being directed, the artis t continues working in a modernist sense of art production. Danto tracks a particular instance re garding the artist Ida Apllebroog: Applebroog had an address list, bu t she did not have a network. The booklets were, so to speak, self-advertisements, giving her a way of getting recognition until her work was accepted by a gallery.7 Therefore, by refusing the networking capabilities of Mail Art, the artist was retaining Modernisms form al demand for an art object as opposed to an art of communication. Thus, certain Mail artis ts were more concerned with the formal qualities of their work than conceptual ideals of communication in their pursuit of repres entation in the gallery space. In an interview with th e artist Anna Freud Banana, Cr aig Saper challenged her term postal art : Recently, you coined the phrase postal art to describe networks th at limit exchanges to group members and stress the high quality a nd professional craft in their work. The emphasis in those works is not on networking and making connections.8 The professionalism and craftiness of such pos tal work alludes to a supposed network art dismantling into separable aesthetic objects, again embraces institutional strategies for appropriation. 6 Arthur Danto, Ray Johnson, The Madonna of the Future: Essays in a Pluralistic Art World (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000), 363. 7 Danto, 365. 8 Craig Saper, Networked Psychoanalysis: A Dialogue with Anna Freud Banana, At a Distance: Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet eds. Annmarie Chandler, and Norie Neumark (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005), 257.

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16 In The Mail Art Exhibition: Personal Worl ds to Cultural Strategies, John Held, Jr. emphasizes the importance of the earlier Mail Art network system f unctioning outside of institutional production and more within the realm of open space. In referring to the conceptual aims of network art he states, T he vitality of the network is not the products produced within it, or its function as breed ing ground for emerging artists, but in the maintenance of its open structure.9 Yet even when the intention of art th rough the mail was artistic communication, it often seemed less of a truly open network. Ken Friedman, in The Early Days of Mail Art, divides the NYCS under Johnsons direction into two primary phasesone of a closed network, and one of a worldwide public network. Friedman makes the distinction: Many of Johnsons best-known works are the nume rous lovely, dense printed collages in which he specifically used the names of mem bers of the NYCS, occasionally adding or dropping names. These seemed to point inward to a closed circle. This is not to say that it was bad: its simply the way it was. In the first phase of corresponde nce art, the paradigm blossomed, flourished and found most of its major practitioners. In the second phase, correspondence art turned outward to the world.10 A closed network (as in the first phase) beco mes more manageable in terms of locating contributors and themes for repr esentation within gallery exhib itions. The smaller the network, the easier it becomes to fragmen t it into a production of group au thorship, retaining art-object stature through installation-based representations suited for institutional use. Also similar to the practice of art on the In ternet, art through the mail did not necessarily seek out any intentions of networking at all. In some instances works being aligned with the movement of Mail Art merely relied on mail as a distribution system for ol der artistic mediums. These were attempts of artists, specifically thos e in Eastern Europe, to get works to the United 9 John Held, Jr., The Mail Art Exhibition: Personal Worlds to Cultural Strategies, At a Distance: Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet eds. Annmarie Chandler and Norie Neumark (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005), 102. 10 Ken Friedman, The Early Days of Mail Art: An Historical Overview, Eternal Network: A Mail Art Anthology ed. Chuck Welch (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1995), 5.

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17 States, by using the mail to send drawings, photographs, and the like.11 The same practice occurs today over the Internet, as it offers the same ability as mail to simply deliver artistic content with no intention of networking, or any other artistic involvement with the medium other than utilizing its ability to distribute. New Media cr itic Andreas Broeckmann differentiates an art in the net that is germane to the medium from an art on the net, which is simply the display of 2-D artworks, such as photographs on the Internet.12 Thus, while Minimalism sought out institutiona l spaces for site-specific interests based on personal and intimate relations between vi ewer and art object, the Mail Art of the NYCS sought to establish an art outside of the institution with an ar t based on communication. However, Mail Art held its own internal divide between an art of f acilitating a publicly open network and an exploitive art of authorship and clandestine motives for facilitating institutional appropriation. These competing interests for ar t in the 1960s preface those of New Media. But whatever the medium, the conceptual practice of facilitating creative communication as an art of process was as limited in the 1960s as it is today. 11 Friedman, Early Days 3. 12 Broeckmann, 438.

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18 CHAPTER 3 NEW OBJECTS FOR OLD SPACES Since art is dead, it has evidently become ex tremely easy to disguise police as artists. When the latest imitations of a recuperated neo-dadism are allowed to pontificate proudly in the media, and thus also to tinker with the dcor of official palaces, like court jesters to the kings of junk, it is evident that by the same process a cu ltural cover is guaranteed for every agent or auxilia ry of the states networks of persuasion.1 Guy Debord, Comments on the Society of the Spectacle Minimalisms call for a form of bodily comm unication between the singular viewer and the almighty art object within a privileged space opposed the network-based communication of Mail Art. Modernist formalism was able to ad apt to the call for communication within art by ignoring communication as a social need of humanity and instead redefining communication in terms of one bodys relationship to an object an d the space around it. This is the very same method found within theories on New Media, which relate concepts of in teraction and usership with works that have no connectivity to any form of a network (such as the Net) and instead retain the mediums of old. To understand how Minimalisms modernist sense of bodily communication reappears in New Media, New Medi a theories that seek to supplant social communications between people with machine communication between vi ewers and techno art objects need examining. Both Lev Manovich and Mark B.N. Hansen examine New Media artworks tendency to evolve the status of art viewer to art participant or user. In Language of New Media Manovich states, New Media change our concept of what an image isbecause they turn a viewer into an active user.2 Manovich goes as far as to claim that once any image has been digitally converted onto a computer screen it, becomes inter active, in the sense that a digitized Mona Lisa can be 1 Guy Debord, Comments on th e Society of the Spectacle, trans. Malcol m Imrie. (London and New York: Verso, 2002), 77-78. 2 Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001), 183.

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19 stretched, reformatted, tonally adjusted, or any other number of endless possibilities. In New Philosophy for New Media Hansen criticizes Manovichs dema rcation of New Media as existing solely within the realm of the image, or within the dependency on optical perception. For Hansen the mere reformation, or its empowerment, of the image by the user, does not constitute participation within New Media works. Instead, he calls for an affectivity of New Media, in that works should embolden a physical dimension, or the bodys experience of space, regardless of whether the space concerned is an actual physical space or a simulated, virtual one.3 This clearly recalls Morris claim th at Minimalist aesthetics are negotiated in terms of particular space and light and physical vi ewpoint of the spectator.4 As Hansens notion of affectivity describes a visceral communicati on between art object and participant, Manovich calls for a form of communication based on the organization of mediated information not through narrative, but through the aestheticized collection/organization of information,5 or the viewers inter action with a database. Th e connection between these models of communication is thei r inherent dependency on a singul ar receiver reacting to the input not of other user s, but of technology itself. Manovich states, If film technology, film practice, and film theory privilege the tempor al development of a moving image, computer technology privileges spatial dimensions.6 This relationship between the user and a privileged spatial dimension coincides with Hansens em phasis on the physical experience of space. Whether this space is physical and made to feel digital via installed technological objects/components, or digital with physical interaction (virtual re ality), the users potential to 3 Mark B.N. Hansen, New Philosophy for New Media (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004), 40. 4 Morris, 17. 5 Manovich, 217. 6 Ibid, 157.

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20 communicate in these spaces remains confined to premeditated responses. A collective, or communal sense of networked communication (the sta ndard of true usership) falls to the wayside with Manovich and Hansen for authored technical objects, which not only require institutional spaces to house them, but also require a submissi ve viewer who can receive, but certainly not affect, the communicated message. This m odel of New Media emphasizes technical experimentation and machines ability to inter act more than genuine communicative possibilities between multiple users (people). In order to compel us to see with our bodies,7 in his definition of New Media Hansen advocates a form of old media that appropriates digital data into an objectbut in this case a stolid object with no mode of technological participation wh atsoever. Robert Lazzarinis skulls (2000) brings physical objects, which have been constructed from digitally warped perspectives, into real space, or as Hansen puts it: skulls presents us with actual artifacts from the digital realmdigitally warped forms bearing traces of inhuman topolog ical manipulation. If our appr ehension of these artifacts doesnt give us direct experience of digi tal space, it does comprise a new form of affection-imagea digital affection-imag e that unfolds in and as the viewerparticipants bodily intuition of sheer alienness of these forms.8 Therefore, skulls does not even bring a technological comp onent into physical space for the user to communicate with the work, because the user only communicates phenomenologically by adjusting his/her position in space to coincide wi th the askew object. Hansen claims that this bodily repositioning of the viewer in order to corr ect the objects warped perspective signifies for the user the virtuality of the body itself .9 In assessing skulls Hansen fails to examine a communal experience of the work as it functions in space, as earlier phenomenological works 7 Hansen, 110. 8 Ibid, 204. 9 Ibid, 215.

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21 might stress. Instead, skulls remains within Hansens conception of New Media, as it communicates a profound personal experience10 for a singular receiver. Therefore, these digitally aided sculptures br idges the gap for Hansen betw een passive viewership and participation, or his sense of usership, with their insistence on a bodily mode of vision. Missing from Hansens evaluation of New Media, base d on this bodily communication, are any works that might facilitate the ability for multip le bodies to collectively experience such communication with digital forms. Hansens discussions on the work of Ken Feingold and Bill Viola embody perhaps his greatest misappropriation of the term New Media Feingolds spectacle-oriented, technically proficient sculptures embody the authored and disconnected faux particip ation that confuses what New Media real ly is. Feingolds If/Then (2001) places two mechanical human-like heads in close proximity to one another as they speak incessantly to one another, attempting to determine whether they really exist or not.11 This uncanny mechanical fo rm of communication clearly does not include users input in to its discussion. Hansen makes clear that these mechanical conversations are generated in real time, u tilizing language-processing software and personality algorithms written by Feingold himself.12 Therefore, communication is but a narrative authored by the artist. Hansens defense of New Medi as participatory dimension via bodily vision justifies this type of digitized sc ulpture that surely attracts bodies towards its spectacle, but falls short of New Medias supposed promise of affective usership. The same can be said of Hansens criticism of Bill Violas Quintet of the Astonished Hansen states, Violas aesthetic experimentation with New Media intensifies the now by 10 Hansen, 55. 11 Ibid, 152. 12 Ibid, 154.

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22 literally overloading it with stimuli (units of in formation) that are properly imperceptible (i.e., imperceptible to natural perception).13 Therefore, Violas work communicates with viewers like some form of super-powered High Definition Televisionastonishing the viewer with an overload of aestheticized digital information. Hansen locates this method of including the imperceptible in Quintet of the Astonished as it gives way to a kind of affective contagion through which consciousness, by being put face-to -face with what it cannot properly perceive and yet what constitutes the very condition out of which the perceivabl e emerges, undergoes a profound self-affection.14 But unless the desired affection is a seizure, an art that seeks to communicate by manipulating human perception thr ough an overload of data seems far from a productive form of mediated communication. Passive viewership under Viola now becomes affective hypnosis, which better suit s the interests of Hollywood than any attempting to facilitate usership. Assessment of such works seems to be based on the objects formal qualities and their ability to astonish the viewer into passivity. When digital information gets appropriated into real space, it is done so through an information-rich art object (such as talking machines or a moving image on screen), which then jus tifies the need for a physical space to house the digital. This form of New Media neglects th e communicative networking capab ilities of technology in order to glorify the pictoria lism of techno-environments and imprisons the New Media work within institutional spaces that offer an extremely li mited notion of participation or communication. Formalism of the Database If the works of Lazzarini, Fiengold and Viola ar e interactive in the sense that they impose neurologically affective digital information onto viewers, then in teraction is nothing more than 13 Hansen, 260. 14 Ibid, 265.

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23 the authored permutations and combinations of the art object itself. This necessity for the art object to interact as a superior technical object becomes mo re of a formalistic than conceptual quality when interaction is simply the ability fo r the object to alter and confuse its own presence for the viewer. Lazzarinis skulls visually brings an impercep tible new perspective through its digitized mastery, Fiengolds talking machine heads closely resembles an actual human head, and Viola brings imperceptible digital data to the moving image. When focusing on New Media that are not based on connectivity and human co mmunications, the concern is how the art object will formally relate technological information to the singular human recipient. By way of the New Media works which they tout, Manovich sees New Media art as framing digital information through its role as a database, whereas Hansen sees digital information, specifically the digital image, as framed by the human body. But perception of participation as either navigation of the databases spatial dimension or participation of a bodily response to a neurological experi ment still retains old medias model of authorship. Hansens and Manovichs artists continue to function as author, with the work functioning as a premeditated, finite, technological object with its sole act of communication being one of predictable experimentati on, as opposed to genuine communal affectivity. For Manovich, New Medias aesthetic contri bution to the formal progression of art history is the showcasin g of its technological properties/fu nctions (the dec onstruction of numeric/algorithmic geometrical structures of binary code). He even references such deconstructive aesthetics with the example of the movie The Matrix with its data shower of streaming neon green numeric lines cons tituting the movement of advanced telecommunications.15 Manovich touts Vuk Cosics ASCII film s for their ability to effectively 15 Manovich, 330.

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24 stage one characteristic of computer-based m oving imagestheir identity as computer code.16 Along with film, New Media can also take on th ese aesthetics of comput er code for Manovich, but as such they are clearly limited in th eir potential for comm unicative or networking capabilities. For example, Manovi ch praises the net.art project Jodi.org by Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans, averring that it often evokes DOS commands and the characteristic green color of computer terminals from the 1980s.17 This evaluation relegates New Media to an outmoded form of technology in order to present a form alist agenda, which completely neglects New Medias capabilities of connectiv ity. By pictorializing the digita l, such works do not simply digitize information for viewers, but instead my stify and obfuscate the technological process in order to aestheticize and stylize. The deconstruc tion of computer code into green colored lines coming through the pure black of the screen with an incised, grid-like co mposition recalls Frank Stellas Minimalist formalism in Die Fahne Hoch! Rachel Greene, in Internet Art, comments on Jodi.org : Hiding coherent images in source code seem s playful and riddling, a means of separating instructions (the HTML) from the completed task (the front page). This surreptitious divide of the browser is accomplished by radi calizing the source code into the pictorial, and radicalizing the executed task into the unreadable.18 Again, the New Media work that seeks an unr eadable and radicalized aesthetic not only misappropriates the technological process with no redeeming conceptual purpose for doing so, but also refuses the standard of usership to wh ich all works under the gu ise of New Media should be held. 16 Manovich, 330. 17 Ibid, 332. 18 Rachel Green, Internet Art (New York: Thames & Hudson, 2004), 40.

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25 Digital Environments for Non-digital Spaces The models of viewership (as opposed to usership) under both Manovich and Hansen come together in works that create installed digi tal environments where the traversing of space and ability for the body to affect digital spac e merge. Hansen and Manovich both examine the works of Tams Waliczky, specifically The Forrest (1993), and the way in which perspective systems within the aesthetics of New Media are altered. While Manovich sees Waliczky as refuting the default mode of vision impos ed by computer softwa reone point linear perspective,19 Hansen describes Waliczkys body of work as the inversion of a normal viewing situation, such that the image becomes the stab le point of reference around which the body might be said to move.20 Waliczkys use of New Media, therefor e, centers on a participation of mere aesthetics, in which a newer perspectival system replaces an older one. Yet the image still retains the confines of an older pictoria l frame, in that any change in the image that might occur has already been constructed within it. Ma novich illustrates Waliczkys project in The Forrest : To create The Forrest a number of cylinders were placed inside each other, each cylinder mapped with a picture of a tree, repeated a num ber of times. In the film, we see a camera moving through this endless static forest in a complex spatial trajec torybut this is an illusion. In reality, the camera doe s move, but the architecture of the world is constantly changing as well, because each cylinder is ro tating at its own speed. As a result, the world and our perception of it are fused together.21 In this pursuit of illusionism, Manovich accurately neglects mentioning any form of participation or usership on behalf of the viewer. However, Hansen argues that Waliczyky interacts, or communicates, with the viewer-participant in terms of compelling us again to see with our 19 Manovich, 87. 20 Hansen, 115. 21 Manovich, 88.

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26 bodies .22 Because the viewer must reposition hi s/her body to correspond to the shifting perspectival image of The Forrest Hansen calls this participati on, in that the requirement of movement makes the viewer conscious of his/her bodily state. Hansen describes the experience of awareness in this model of limited participation: As exhilarating as it is deflating, this awar eness serves to place the viewer-participant within the space of the image, although in a manner that, by constantly interrupting immersion, draws attention to the active role played by bodi ly affectivity in producing and maintaining this experience.23 This exhilaration seems to suggest more of a subm issive type of viewership, in which the viewer becomes overwhelmed by the spectacularization of the techno spheres ne wer perspective. The isolated individual body simply responds to its domination within an awe-evoking digitalized environment. To heighten this sense of exhilaration, Waliczky co-produced with Jeffrey Shaw an interactive installation based on The Forrest .24 Hansen explains Shaws interactive contribution to the work: To this end, Waliczkys world is made naviga ble via the interface of an advanced flight simulator; using a joystick mounted on a moving seat, the viewer is able to negotiate her own way through the infinitely recursive virtual world of The Forrest and to experience her journey through the physical sensations of movement that the flight simulator produces in her own body.25 In reflecting on the sensationalism created by an a ddition of a flight simula tor to this work, in which the user is to navigate virtual space, one cannot help to recall the many flight simulator arcade devices, which seek the same form of sens ationalism. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that 22 Hansen, 110. 23 Ibid,117. 24 Ibid, 116. 25 Ibid.

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27 the arcade flight simulator operates to draw partic ipants to the site of the arcade, while Shaws simulator requires participation within institutio nal spaces, such as the Ars Electronica Center. While Renaissance formalist illusionism under the guise of window on the world evoked a believability of a particular space, Waliczky s formalism, according to Hansen and Manovich, induces a believability of movement through cons tructed virtual space. In either instance, feedback, or participation, does not affect the authored constr uction, which evokes art of the pastbut surely not the usersh ip model of New Media. New Media Restricting Technological Advancement New Media works that are praised for thei r overloaded technological information, or those that examine the one-way communicati on between machine and body, function as art objects due to their closed artistic process. For example, Manovich distinguishes New Media works that offer interactive environmen ts, or virtual real ity, from photography: In older, photographic technologies, all part s of an image are exposed simultaneously, whereas now the image is produced through se quential scanningcircu lar in the case of radar, horizontal in the case of television. Therefore, the different parts of the image correspond to different moments in time.26 This use of radar sequential scanning suggest s that digital compositions no longer mirror the perspective of traditional human ocular perception, but are ev olving into machine-generated constructions. Hansen sees this progression of visi on as a threat to human perception, stating that we literally cannot see what the machine can see, and we thus risk being left out of the perceptual loop altogether.27 Thus Hansen presses the importance of a human bodily type of vision, which commands the machine to see as we do (with our bodies). Yet this bodily vision is clearly one of restrict ionrestricting the machine to see as we do, and only doing so within 26 Manovich, 99. 27 Hansen, 103.

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28 experimentations where a singular user controls a machine. Th is bodily vision is more of a commentary on how technology should be used, dema nding that art offer a utopian scenario in which the human body still controls the machine, but apparently only within museum walls. Hansen criticizes Manovich for overlooking this sense of bodily controlled vision; however, Manovich similarly states: In contrast to cinema, where the mobile ca mera moves independently of the immobile spectator, now the spectator actually has to move in physical space in order to experience movement in virtual space. It is as though the camera were mounted on the users head.28 Therefore, Manovich sees Virtual Reality as br eaking with the traditi on of Albertis window, Drers perspectival machines, th e camera obscura, photography, cinema,29 in that mobility needs to become part of human vision itself in order for this type of machine-to-human communication to occur. So for Manovich, by co upling the formalist qualities of old with mobility, a new art in the tradition of Modernis m will emerge. Hansen tracks VRs ability to modify vision at large: Indeed, the framing function that I have ascribed to human embodiment reaches its creative potential in VR interf aces with dataspaces that are markedly different from the geometric space of ordinary perception and that, consequently, cannot be apprehended through perspectival vision.30 Yet despite both Manovich and Hansens claims that VR constitutes a sort of break with the ocularcentrism of cinema, it is important to not e that their referenced works all require a virtualized interactive environmen t to house this bodily vision, much like the need of the black box in the cinematic control of vision. Hansen examines the work of Michael Scroggins and Stewart Dicksons Topological Slide (1994) as an environment that brings the abstraction of 28 Manovich, 109. 29 Ibid. 30 Hansen, 163.

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29 digital media (its mathematical algorithms) in to physical space for th e user to physically navigate. Or, as Hansen puts it: For Scroggins, Topological Slide can be counterposed to the striated space of the Web: whereas the Web operates a transformation of th e actual into the virtual, of the local into the abstract, their VR interface allows the participant to traverse mathematical objects in an experience of t he abstract made concrete.31 This suggests that Topological Slide and other works like it, appr opriate digital information, such as operations of the Web, in order to produce a centralized environment, or technical object. As if it were acting as parody, Topological Slide abstracts the Net, or Web, into one environment, or site, which is the opposite of any networks (including th e Net) intentions. The isolation of a singular user in these interactive environments is essential for this form of communication, as opposed to any sense of a co llective affectivity. New Media that neglect communicative networking capabilities of technol ogy in order to incite bodily experiences within pictorialized technol ogical environments imprison the New Media work within institutional spaces. This production-based form of New Me dia resides within projects centered on technological experimentation, with the artist acting as scientis t and users functioning as mere variables. The work of Jeffrey Shaw, as de scribed by both Hansen and Manovich, exemplifies this type of production, which is certainly no t an exploration of ne tworking capabilities. Manovich emphasizes Shaws ability to aesthetici ze the relationship between a database and the interface, which users acce ss to explore digital information. Shaws work Legible City communicates with the user to the extent that he/she might navigate through a virtual threedimensional city composed from letters.32 Manovich applauds this virtual work for its 31 Hansen, 181. 32 Manovich, 226.

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30 introspective quality to proclaim itself as a da tabase and then allow the user to access its virtualized space. For Manovich, the database su pplants the narrative as the essential cultural form for creative process under the influence of New Media and examines its interactive nature in works likes Shaws: The user of a narrative is traversing a da tabase, following links be tween its records as established by the databases creator. An intera ctive narrative (which can be also called a hypernarrative in an analogy with hypertext) can then be understood as the sum of multiple trajectories through a database.33 This interactive narrative, therefore, merely allo ws the user to follow the database creators links of digital informati on. The resulting relationship is solely one between user and constructed digital space. The hypernarratives re placement of art history s traditional narrative is only new in the sense that it adds a few more windows onto the world for the viewer to navigate through. In Legible City the user follows such links by virtually exploring the environment of the database on a bike, which adds a physical dimension to the work in that one does in fact sit on an actual bike to traverse the digital environment. Hansens analysis, in sync with Shaws, takes this physical dimension as its point of departure in that a users leg movements affect the digital image by framing it.34 Aside from physical involvement, neither Hansen nor Manovich emphasizes the lack of the us ers input or ability to creatively alter the work within this model of interaction. Communi cation in this model simply functions with the art object offering the user a passive experien ce within digital space, which is surely not a networked community, but a mobile image with limited permutations. 33 Manovich, 227. 34 Hansen, 58-59.

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31 Like Manovich, Hansen sees Shaws works as interactive environments, yet he finds the proprioceptive and affective body35 constitutive of the interface, as opposed to the digital aestheticization of a database. Hansen states, Shaws overridi ng concern with using technology to break out of the frame of the imageand thereby empower the bodyserves from the very start to differentiate his work from that of his peers.36 So while Manovich sees Shaws work in terms of its ability to allow for a visual (ocula rcentric) traversing of the aestheticized database, Hansen emphasizes the bodys role in this pro cess of navigation, or framing. Again, the users ability to construct with others a communal, navigable space rema ins inherently absent from both analyses. Instead, set parameters and finite permut ations exist by the hand of the artist to glorify technological capabiliti es, except for visual collectiv e communication, or networking capabilities. For example, under Hansens analysis, Shaws Place: Ruhr (2000) finds limited communication with or participation by the user, to the extent that ones body interacts with the virtual environment only at the level of selectivit y of that which has already been authored. In reference to this work Hansen states: Accordingly, your experience of this im age environment gradually yields a felt coordination of your bodily movement with your virtual navigation of the image space, as the virtual space of the image is transfor med from an impersonal cognitive idea into an immediately graspable, profoundly personal expe rience, one that centrally features your bodythat is, your proprioceptive and affective bodyas interface.37 That this work, according to Hansen, functions as a profoundly personal experience attests to its model of communication betw een singular receiver and virtualized obj ect in which human interaction only exists within ones own body. This personal experi ence of technological sublation mirrors art historys luxury art object and similarly demands a public space to sanctify 35 Hansen, 48. 36 Ibid, 53. 37 Ibid, 48.

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32 its cultural significance. Although Place: Ruhr can be dismantled as an installation and function within different physical spaces, its large cylindr ical screening frame, along with the motored platform to navigate the virtual space within the frame, require a large and technologically compatible site. Therefore, while we may not be able to call this quasi-architectural structure site-specific, it surely requires an institution-specific site. Virtual reality environments that operate with a singular user through a machine in physical space obviously require a specific to house them. Technological Amusement Parks The type of institutional space that houses these technological amusement rides, such as the work of Shaw, is best exemplified thr ough the Disneyland-like existence of the Ars Electronica Center. Housing th e Ars Electronica Organization s ideological preference for future-oriented, experimental New Media art, the center functions at the level of the spectacle, due to its insistence on digital works that inte ntionally mandate a physical architectural space. Centered in Linz, Austria a nd begun in 1979, the Ars Electronica organization still insists on a primacy of place by promoting the center as some sort of techno-cultural shrine. In the Ars Electronica Center-generated publication -2004 Ars Electro nica: The Network for Art, Technology, and Society: The First 25 Years, Siegbe rt Janko claims that due to the presence of Ars Electronica, Linz has been able to secure itself a certain position on the global map of culture, and this has given this future-oriented ci ty a quality of its own and hence a bonus as a location.38 Janko goes on to reference the hopeful futu re of the Ars Electronica Center by suggesting that [t]he challenge will now be to keep pace with the new speed of competition by 38 Siegbert Janko, The Spirit of Linz, Ars Electronica, 1979-2004: The Networ k for Art, Technolo gy and Society: The First 25 Years eds. Hannes Leopoldseder, Christine Schpf and Gerfried Stocker (Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2004), 60.

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33 contributing powerful ideas and the necessary funds.39 Of course, much like the funds, these powerful ideas within the realm of New Media should be ones vali dating the physical locale of the site. New Media critic Roy Ascott predicts the significant commercial incentives for the physical site of the Ars Electronica Center, or AEC, by noting its abil ity to function as a platform, for the presentation of ground-br eaking designs of hardware and software, technological invention, and produc t development in the spheres of design, entertainment, and education.40 Ascott continues, All of these aspects are pote ntial sources of revenue th at, along with shop sales, information services, and copyrights of archiv al material, will yield income of mercial sponsorship of projects, programmes (e .g. the Sony Diskman museum guide), and specific parts of the building (e.g., the Appl e Electronic School Room) will also be sought.41 The model of New Media works that relate to such geographically cen tered spaces either experiment on the physical bodys re lation to technology or aesthetici ze digitized data in order to validate the physical representation of digital in formation, as opposed to its liberated existence within a digital network. Both Hansens and Ma novichs theories suppo rt the AECs preferred type of New Media works, which oppose a newer media of connectivity, network, and community. Instead of user-to-us er communication, a virtual, or installation, environment is created to be experienced by the individual receiver, which is essential for the institutional oneway distribution system of creativ e content. Ascott states, But ju st as the art in the past was thought to be concerned with authoring (the one -way channeling of meaning), so museums saw 39 Janko, 60. 40 Roy Ascott, The Ars Electronica Center Datapool, Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology, and Consciousness eds. Edward A. Shanken (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 293. 41 Ascott, Ars Electronica 293.

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34 their business as that of authorizing (a one -way system of validating and valorizing).42 Therefore, museums, or newer technological cultu ral centers, along with the artists who wish to coexist within that institutional framework, conti nue to rely on art that perpetuates the one-way communication systems of old media. 42 Roy Ascott, The Mind of the Museum, Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology, and Consciousness eds. Edward A. Shanken (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 349.

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35 CHAPTER 4 CLOSING THE NETWORK In order to become ever more identical to its elf, to get as close as possible to motionless monotony, the free space of the commodity is henceforth constantly modified and reconstructed.1 Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle New Media often use computer capabilities and the connectivity of the Net, but in ways other than connecting users. This type of work tends to hold an affinity with the institutional framework of museums and galleries. Theories li ke Manovichs mentioned earlier, suggest that a participatory function exists even within simple di gital images and digitized texts, as a user can change sizes, shapes, colors, and even content with a few clicks. Manovich states, Once an object is represented in a computer, it automati cally becomes interactiv e. Therefore, to call computer media interactive is meaninglessit simple means stating the most basic fact about computers.2 This is exactly why the interactive asp ect of a New Media work determines its genuinely new usage of media. In other word s, mere adjustments to digitized objects, or programs, are intrinsically part of computers an d machines, so this form of communication with a machine is meaningless unless other users also interact. New Media works that focus on the Internets socio-cultural ability to network computers, people, a nd ideas allow users to actually participate in the construction of the art itself, which is not a finished product, but instead a continuing process of social inte raction. To what extent a user actually uses the technological for independent and creative action depends on the art project and its authorship, or lack thereof. New Media works that use the Net to comm unally network users differ from those that use the Net to collect data, aesth eticize it, and then deem themselves networked. As seen earlier 1 Debord, Society Paragraph 166. 2 Manovich, 55.

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36 within Mail Art, the difference between a closed and open network is again relevant. The more the work is an authored experiment of the artist as opposed to a facilitation of creative communication, the more its network is close d. Technological experimentation in art, though breaking with the bounded object, retains a model of authorship when the artist manipulates users into mere variables fac ilitating the larger experiment at hand. In reference to Net artists/authors (which he refers to as high tech representa tives), R.L. Rutsky, in his book High Techn suggests: They become the privileged interpreters of technology and the future, the priests of the high-tech cathedral of the future. They become, in short, the mediators of technology, the interface through which the unknown, sublime complexity of high techand indeed, the future itselfcan be accessed by the general populace.3 This divine form of authorship only exists with in Net art when the artist sets up a technological system that communicates through automation. In ot her words, this is an art connected to the Net, but void of any genuine netw orking capabilities. Therefore, the artist constructs an illusion of a participatory dimension while merely dire cting a premeditated outcome to be preformed by machinery. This form of Net art requires only that a user (or, more appropri ately in this scenario, a viewer) browses through a di gital world created by the god -like New Media artist. In Internet Art: The Online Clash of Culture and Commerce Julian Stallabrass refers to these types of works by writing, There is certainly littl e interactivity offere d by the many web-based works of art that simply require the user to click b lindly through a series of screens.4 Such non-interactive works, despite any web-based characteristic s, can in fact serve as object s, digitized of course, in the sense that they function as a packaged archiv e of web pages (just as Manovichs New Media centered on the relationship between user and database). Although the Net is the only realm in 3 R.L. Rutsky, High Techne (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 156. 4 Julian Stallabrass, Internet Art: The Online Clash of Culture and Commerce (London: Tate Publishing, 2003), 61.

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37 which networked New Media art can properly func tion, that does not mean that digital objectlike works, although better suited for the museum sp ace, cannot appear on the Internet as well. Net art that retains old medi as insistence on authorship oppo ses the network-based art of conceptual movements such as Fl uxus and Mail Art. In his essa y Fluxus Praxis: An Exploration of Connections, Creativity and Community, Owen F. Smith states: Fluxus works are not based on the source of or iginal artistic concep tion, or solely on the artists intent but occur in the mental realm of the viewer/participants or in the shared cognitive space that Marcel Ducham p labeled the art coefficient.5 Works that seek no finalization in terms of ar tistic intention subject themselves to potential destruction, as the works offer no predicta ble outcomeonly Duchamps art coefficient This concept comes back to the process or communi cation itself, replacing th e finalized art object with infinite socio-communica tive possibilities. Rutsky refers to the social sphere of technological communication as t echno-culture, and the structur ing, or supervision, of such communication as techno-cult ural politics. In referring to an idealized status of techno-culture he states that it must imagine human beings as participants in the techno-cultural unconscious riding its waves, attempting to navigate its curren t, but also, by their actions, initiating unsettling new movements within it, generating new relatio ns and processes, whose consequences often cannot be foreseen.6 That which cannot be foreseen functions as affective communicationa communication between the artist, the users, and the technology th at connects them. Therefore, the type of communication taking place depends on the technical capabilitie s of the work. Much like Mail Art included an aesthetic dimension to its networked messages, Net art can choose to aestheticize its communication process in any nu mber of ways. What separates New Media art 5 Owen F. Smith, Fluxus Praxis: An Exploration of Connections, Creativity, and Community, At a Distance: Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet eds. Annmarie Chandler, and Norie Neumark (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005), 130. 6 Rutsky, 158.

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38 that seeks creative network communication from th at which lacks a true participatory dimension is whether technology or users/pa rticipants determine the pro cess and outcome of the work. Therefore, the determining question is Is it people, or authored algor ithms that change the work? Manovich illustrates this dichotomy as sta tic versus dynamic Websites. He states: [T]he idea of content preexisting interface is challenged in yet another way by new media artworks that dynamically generate their da ta in real time. While in a menu-based interactive multimedia application or a static Website, all data already exists before the user accesses it, in dynamic ne w media artworks the data is created on the fly, or, to use the new media lingo, at fun time. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways: procedural computer graphics, formal language systems, AI and AL programming.7 According to Manovich, then, an artwork on the Web can function dynamically, while still refusing a truly participatory dimension for user s, as technologymore specifically Artificial Intelligence or Artificial Lifeconstitutes the dynam ic or changing aspect of such work more than the creative contributions of users. Yet at the visual level of the work, algorithms have the same potential to modify a work that the input of users does. So despite some works ability to rebel against the fixated, or static art object, the use of A.I. to do so seems more of an elation of technology than an attempt to ignite social communication. Network as Installation The use of the Nets ability to link information through its database-like archive of information is often confused as a form of networking. The term network art can often appear alongside of projects that merely seek to us e information on the Net (as opposed to human communication) to digitally compute aesthetic repres entations of data. If such projects do in fact carry the concept of a network, it is surely a closed network with cr eative limitations based on the directorial efforts of only one user (the artist) Ola Pehrsons Yucca Invest Trading Plant (1999) functions as a desktop computer, which is networked to the Internet while being 7 Manovich, 67.

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39 connected to a houseplant. This live plant elec tronically accesses light and water based on its electric impulses. Pehrson explains: A Yucca palm tree has been chosen as a representative of a typical plant for a young urban businessman. The plant has been expos ed to six months of intensive market education, during which it has been fed with stock market rates encoded into electric currents, combined with an index related c onditioning diet of either rich or meager rations of water and sunlight. This is an attempt to stimulate a market-adapted habitus, similar to that which years of financial tr ansactions develop in the experienced stock brokers nervous system.8 Despite the banal social commentary, this work is merely a spectacularized object in that it requires site specificity to function as a network installation art form. The goal or concept of the work needs but a mere digital photograph on the ar tists website to depi ct a plant covered in wires on top of a table alongside of a desktop co mputer. Lise Autogena and Joshua Portways Black Shoals Stock Market Planetarium (2001) functions in a similar manner. A fixated, inhuman network, such as that of the stock market once again functions to visualize data into the form of installation spectacle. The data comes fr om online pre-figured information, such as that from Dow Jones or Nasdaq, therefore, no partic ipatory dimension exists to allow viewers to affect the visuals being communicated. As he cura ted the show at Tate Britain, Art and Money Online, in which the work appeared, Stallabrass comments: This work visualised the global stock market as an animated star chart, with stocks glowing brighter or dimmer depending on the vo lume of trading, and drifting together or apart according to the congruence of their trading histories. So when IT stocks started to fall rapidly and concertedly, as they did over the course of the exhibition, their corresponding stars clustere d together in the dome.9 Again, the installation work, much like the major ity of installation works before it, finds its representation reduced to the photographic dimension. Perhaps th is does not pose a problem to 8 Ola Pehrsons official Web site Yucca Invest Trading Plant, www.olapehrson.com/i ndex/yucca/index.htm (accessed May 15, 2006). 9 Stallabrass, Internet Art 31.

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40 such works, as they function more at a historic al level as documentary than as a contemporary, progressive level of communica tion. In other words, one can look up the global stock market activity at the time of the installation, view th e quite beautiful blue fl uorescent-lighted stars on the dark museum ceiling through photos, and comprehend the work conceptually without any need for interaction. If the work is networked via its reliance on on line market data, it is surely a closed network that the work responds to, as mo st individuals cannot aff ect the stock market in any participatory way. For a work to function as New Media, it mu st allow input from users to adequately modify the appearance of the art project at ha nd. Nonrestrictive, networked New Media art needs to function beyond a user-to-program level of co mputation. Interaction based solely on a user engaging with an artists predetermined pr ogram, or environment, can only offer individualized/isolated experien ces of a work, no different than old medias mode of production. The digital installation medium has the ability to bring what might appear to be usership, or networks, into the institutional space and create a false sense of networking capabilities. Such digital installations still functi on more as art objects than cr eative artistic communication. In Chat Rooms, Hal Foster states, [I]nstallation is the default format, and exhibition the common me dium, of much art today. (In part this tendency is driven by th e increased importance of huge shows: there are biennials not only in Veni ce but in Sao Paulo, Instanbu l, Johannesburg and Gwangju.) Entire exhibitions are often gi ven over to messy juxtapositio ns of projects photos and texts, images and objects, videos and scr eens and occasionally the effects are more chaotic than communicative.10 Although such messy juxtapositions may resemble the disorganization of the many unrelated contributions within an artistic netw ork, the certainly do not act like one. 10 Hal Foster, Chat Rooms, Participation: Documents of Contemporary Art ed. Claire Bishop (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006), 192.

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41 Mongrels Color Separation at the ZKM Center for Art a nd Media in 1998 embodies this type of network installation that falsely receives categorization into New Media. Hansen offers a firsthand account of his personal interaction with the work: Entering the darkened room in which the work was shown, I was at first a bit flustered, finding no directions to guide my interacti on with the work. On discovering a mouse on the console in the middle of the room (after my eyes adjusted from the darkness), I instinctively began to move it.11 Upon moving the mouse, Hansen goes on to explain how the work interacted with him by scrolling through different combinations of photogr aphed faces wearing masks of different racial complexions. When clicking on one of the scrolling faces, Hansen notes how spit would be projected onto that face while an audio recordi ng describing a tale of ra cial abuse would play.12 Strange that this work would be included in a di scussion of New Media, as it clearly revives the spectatorship of outmoded media. The click of th e mouse might as well be the push of a play button on a VCR, or cassette player or better yet, the pull of a slot machines lever to rapidly scroll through different pictures The images are static, except for the animated spit graphics, which are of one fixated form, and neither the visu al nor the audio ever ch ange in this almost degrading sense of participation for the user. Communication from users matters not in this work, and its process is not e xplained to viewers, according to Hansens account. In fact, the mouse should have been removed from the work so as not to confuse viewers that they may actually be interacting with it. The work of Jeffrey Shaw critiques the ga llery systems appropriation of functioning Internet artworks, yet the artist also operates within that system (similar to the institutional critique of Ascher ment ioned earlier). His work Net.art Browser (1999) functions by conjoining 11 Hansen, 148. 12 Ibid, 149.

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42 information space with the museum space and hybridiz ing the interactivity of surfing the Internet with the museum tradition of wall mounted images.13 Users are given a remote keyboard to interact with the piece by moving a large flat screen hooked to horizontal tracks on the gallery wall through the action of accessing various we bsites. Although conceptually the work comments on digitized phenomenology, it does no t bring communication between various users together, but instead allows one us er at a time to interact with the artists movi ng creation, much like Mongrels Color Separation A later work of Shaws Web of Life (2002) is often described as a network installation, whic h suggests that the network has been brought into a physical space (most likely to be objectified to some extent). Interestingly, the network connects viewers/users to other installati ons in various physica l spaces. The interact ion between the five total installation locations offers visual re presentation in the form of an organic-like environment. The users (in a very rudimentar y sense of the word) contribute to the work by placing their individual hand lines into a scanning interface to impart a representation of their identity as visual data. Shaws website explains: The network of distribu ted installations allows people to jointly influence a shared audio-visu al occurrence, and by s canning their palm lines they contribute an attribute of their identitie s to the changing identity of the artistically constituted formations.14 Perhaps this unites users th rough digitized phenomenological awareness; however, the ideas a nd intellectual input of the user s matter not in the artists methodology. Much like a click of the mouse in Color Separation a press of the hand does not constitute interaction or usership when any attemp ts for the user to affect the work conceptually are futile because the artist has preordained a ll possible outcomes. The reason these installations 13 Jeffrey Shaws official Web site, Works, Net.art Browser http:// www.jeffrey-shaw.net/html_main/framesetworks.php3 (accessed July 26, 2007). 14 Jeffrey Shaws official Web site, Works, Web of Life, http:// www.jeffrey-shaw.net/html_main/framesetworks.php3 (accessed July 26, 2007).

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43 insist upon their networking capabilities has to do with their sponsoring institutions upcoming struggle for survival amidst an art of usership. In Art Incorporated: The Story of Contemporary Art Stallabrass makes clear how the installation form at serves underlying institutional interests as a loss-leader for more marketable products.15 Institutional Presence on the Net: Curating Virtual Space As seen with network installations, unless networked art remains ope n, the entire process can be documented through older media and easily manipulated into object-ness. For example, when the participatory dimension of a New Media work ceases to exist, that former network can be appropriated into documentary-based pictoria l representations of that past communication. Hence a former successful network of individuals can become aesthetic vari ations of a line graph or pictogram representing users data no different from visuali zations of economic trends (as with Black Shoals Stock Market Planetarium ). Digital imagery often represents Internet communication processes, or netw orks, where an entire sites interactions can be documented and preserved on storage hardware, such as CD -ROMs or flash drives. This brings to mind publications that supplement vide o art and installation discourse with imagerya snapshot or fragment of an entire work that now represents its entire identity. With a majority of readers not having seen the original work, the non-object, or process, in fact becomes a mere picture or pictures, often chosen by indivi duals separate from the works ar tistic process. A snapshot of a website offers one instance of its functionality am idst a whole history of its interactivity. Such conceptually void imagery is prevalent among museum/gallery sites boasting their implementation of New Media. 15 Julian Stallabrass, Art Incorporated: The Story of Contemporary Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 25-26.

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44 This process of photo frag mentation reduces the interc onnected, vast montage of a website to object status (the singular image). In referen ce to the fragmented parts of the destroyed networked montage, Rutsky states, They are, in other words, effective as representations precisely because their technolo gical form has been cut, separated, from technological function, thus maki ng them available for assembly at a symbolic level, as representational fragments.16 When the full technological potential becomes abandoned in a technical work, that work begins to function less as a matter of functionality or instrumentality than of style, or aesthetics.17 This stylization emerging from the refusal of the Nets technological communicative abilities can be seen in two different processes. The first is represented in both Color Separation and Topological Slide where the artists intentionally make the work resemble the Net, but deny the connectivity the Net is intended to offer. In other words, the Net becomes fragmented into one space/theme so that it can functio n as a singular, selfcontained work. The other process occu rs after artistic pr oduction. As with Yucca Invest Trading Plant the work becomes represented as a photo, or fr agment, of a plant with Net-enabling wires. In this way the process, or rela tionship, regarding the Nets ability to interact with the plant is absent. These processes of styliz ation result in the problematic New Media that fit into the institutional framework of the gallery/museu m via their mystification of technology and adaptability for representation in physical sp ace. Yet, the institution also strives for an adaptability to coexist in both physical and digital space. Manovich describes the new aesthetic, or forma lism, of the computerized era as that of the database-like structure of the commerc ialized Graphic User Interface, or GUI.18 Like 16 Rutsky, 98. 17 Ibid, 11. 18 Manovich, 63.

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45 Microsoft Windows software, or Macintosh OSX, GUIs aestheticize digital information in order to construct a retrieval system for the user to access information quickly. This visual organization of information mirrors the organi zational methodology of muse ums and galleries. If one were to access the homepage of a major mu seum and pull up the institutions site map, which shows the layout of the Web pages design, she/he would find great similarities with the physical layout of that same institution. Manovich refers to these new orga nizational processes as cultural interfaces, and suggests they can model the world in distinct ways.19 No different than the museums physical separation of vari ous cultures and movements (hiding irregular outliers), cultural interfaces also reinstate ins titutional ideologies and will continue to do so. When an institution creates its own website to function as an extension of its physical self, its archive-like network consumes malleable fragments and links them to indicate that they are part of the whole, the reput ation of that institution. A New Media artist having her/his work linked to a museums Web page does not need to be understood in terms much disparate from the old museum model of bricks and mortars. Perhaps museums and galleries have been too nostalgic in their digitiza tion attempts as they clearly have done to Internet works what was done to video works earlier, an objectific ation and fitting into the gallery space via a rejection of that medias reproductive capabilities. The institutional network theoretically adheres better to th e concept of an archive. What becomes networked for the institution, usually on its webpage, are many digital New Media works that offer commensurability to be linked to that institution. Those works then require the digital space of the institution to be accessed in order for the work to be accessed (as seen with 19 Manovich, 117.

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46 Mongrels Color Separation on the Tates website20), which generates the same attention to institutional space that a luxury art object will. Therefore, as open ar tistic networks seek dedication amongst users, institu tional, or curatorial, so-cal led networks demand name-brand publicity. As institutional spaces beco me digitized, so do their mark et-driven needs. Stallabrass examines how museums/galleries could erect conventional models of commercialization and ownership through the tec hnology of digital signing.21 This suggests a user would need to access a specific gallerys website, perhap s through paid membership, in orde r to view or interact with a work. In this scenario, the digital architectur e of the institution refl ects its use of physical architecture. Video art saw its own reproducib le medium objectified into sculpture and installations that limited viewersh ip to a specific site (as opposed to millions of VCRs), and in some cases limited editions commercially answer ed the problem of repr oducibility in the art world. The more object-based, rather than communication-based, the New Media work, the greater potential for its commercial ization via methods like digital signing. Networks can dispel such manipulation, however, according to Saper, by creating a venue in which artists can experiment rather than showcase finished work.22 This experimentation is that of the open network for artistic communication, and when art is understood as an experiment rather than the making of a masterpiece, the gallery system lose s its competitive edge over faster distribution systems.23 To retain its edge the gallery system n eeds those experiments to take place in the new technological laboratories of the museum/ga llery space. The success of these institutional 20 Stallabrass, Internet Art 117-118. 21 Ibid, 131. 22 Craig J. Saper, Networked Art (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), 25-26. 23 Saper, Networked Art 125-126.

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47 attempts depends upon whether New Media artists a ssist or resist those institutional networks struggle for dominance over open, creative communications. Independent artistic networks and the netw orks of the gallery/museum system compete ambiguously and covertly; however, a third contender directly competes with the gallery/museum system: the online curatorial site. These websites function in the same way as a museum, except that they are digitized and data base-oriented, as opposed to architecturally oriented, much like a museums own website. Si tes such as Rhizome, Telepolis, and Syndicate24 organize both visual data to be viewed and inte ractive works to be enga ged. It is important to note that sites such as Rhizome, despite a .org domain name, which offers a bold reference to their not for profit status, asks for a $25.00 me mbership fee to view and participate in the works, which, although perhaps necessary for maintena nce, could appear to audiences to be very similar to, for example, MOMAs entrance fee. On e must maintain thousands of archived digital works in the form of a database while the other has a building to maintain, and both seem to require trendy new designs of their own. These cu rated sites, along with those of museums, do not house communication-based network art, but online art that functio ns as either static visuals (e.g., the snapshot effect), or regulated/limited pa rticipatory interaction, which can be contained as a fragment of the larger site (e.g., Mongrels work). In other words, institutional sites require New Media projects that can be effectively linked and maintained within their sites capacity, much like their physical space. If a project functions outside of th e institutional site (open), it seems strange that one would have to access a curate d site (closed) to then link to that project. The open nature of earlier wo rldwide network movements su ch as Fluxus and Mail Art struggles to exist in the competition of Inte rnet politics. Artists and museums websites 24 Stallabrass, Internet Art 7-11.

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48 dominate search engine respons es for those seeking out artisti c social communication, and the sites that claim to offer it in many cases have no real regard for user participation beyond marketing and membership attempts. Finding free and open networked spaces of visual communication becomes less likely as the increase of websites offers more materialized content, but less and less sincere usership. Most New Media artists who act as website authors adhere to a model of authorship, which negates the concept of usership so fundamental to the identity of New Media. Broeckmann states that a key proble m of the presentation of network art is that there is no distinction between the artists and the audience, between pr oduction and reception.25 This of course is only a problem for institutions in their curatori al efforts to isolate network art from the Internet and into their protected sp aces (either physical or digital in form). 25 Broeckmann, 441.

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49 CHAPTER 5 BECOMING NEW MEDIA When art, become independent, depicts its wo rld in dazzling colors, a moment of life has grown old and it cannot be rejuvenated with dazzling colors. It can only be evoked as a memory. The greatness of art begins to appear only at the dusk of life.1 Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle The inclusion of digital transmi ssions of societal interactions within the di scourse of art history arguably disrupts Kantian ideals of formal qualities that some may demand of an artwork. To ameliorate such qualms, Craig Saper, in Networked Art categorizes this revolutionary art form: When aesthetic and poetic decisions embodi ed in artworks lead to a heightened or changed social situation; one needs to describe th ese forms as sociopoetic rather than as artworks within particular social contexts.2 This evolution of the static artwork to a sociopoetic one from which social changes emerge, applies to New Medi a that make it possible for user to actually affect their social experience in some way through a digitized format. If New Media art continues on a trajectory of relational aesthetics, the concept of an artwork and sociopoetics will be one and the same. Yet in the discussion of this utopian-s ounding participatory dimension within New Media/Net works, the societal imbalance of technological access and education needs emphasized. In rejecting authorita rian authorship in the constr uction and maintenance of a Web artwork, the process becomes one of community and outcomes are infinite; however, when users represent only certain demographics, outcomes of the works show less promise of an allinclusive sense of community. The success of Net-based works depends on users ability to 1 Debord, Society Paragraph 188. 2 Saper, Networked Art xiii.

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50 operate specific technologies which depends on their knowledge of various technological operations. Broeckmann notes the majority of audiences difficulty when encountering networked art to become i nitiated into its rituals.3 Without efforts to educate how one can affectively contribute, the ne twork becomes one of limitations the dystopia of a supposed virtual utopia. Stallabrass notes, T he experience of the Internet, and art on it, is strongly marked by inequality since those with fast machines and connections experience it very differently from those whose hardware and software is aging.4 If institutional spaces are to play any role in the network-based New Media artwork, it should be to involve more us ers and to support artists who facilitate a true sense of user ship, as opposed to showcasing to museumgoers what has already been produced. Beyond the dearth of technologica lly proficient and active users, lies an exclusivity of those who choose to participate in network-base d art. In reference to the Fluxus and Mail Art network approaches, which mirror that of the Inte rnet, Saper examines their shared pursuit to construct interactive gamelike stru ctures of discovery and play.5 Such gamelike activities, however, may function at an arti stic level that excludes many onlookers who, although have the opportunity to participate, are not given instructions for doing so productively. Saper indicates the limitations of these clandestine works: Man y of the works have little value for someone eavesdropping on the network of participants because these works favor narrowcasting over broadcasting.6 Narrowcasting, therefore, exists as an exclusionary process, unless general audiences have the capability to access and understand the artistic communication at hand. The 3 Broeckmann, 438. 4 Stallabrass, Internet Art 41. 5 Saper, Networked Art 36. 6 Ibid, 153.

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51 networks of corporations, al ong with museums and galleries, are the opposite of narrowcasting, as all viewers (not to be confused with par ticipatory networks) must comprehend their limited role as receiver almost instantane ously in order to enter into that institutions ideology (similar to the old media of television). Without helpful a nd easily accessible educational tools to suggest otherwise, the art of passive viewership tends to attract a larger audien ce than that of active participation requiring too mu ch technological proficiency. As viewers, not users, audiences are most likely less exclusive when content is less participatory, as the interacti on process requires less action, knowledge, and time. Time serves as a prerequisite for effective networks, as those in volved in the artistic process must be fully committed for the work to exist as an ongoing co mmunication. Otherwise, the work becomes one of limited existence, and can be turned into a finite act (photo/ video recording), which, as other movements have proven, can in turn become objectified. This may seem inevitable, but the works should at least be referenced in terms of their former ability to subvert the communication model of old media (that is, befo re that very system misreprese nts them under its own image). Examining problematic practices of network-based art forms, Ken Friedman in The Wealth and Poverty of Networks boldly claims, The sustainability of a network flows from the productive capacity of the system or from the willingness of individuals to support its generative capac ity. This requires existential commitment of a kind that is extremely rare. So far, there has been no example of an art network that demonstrates the sustainability and resilience of most successful social networks.7 Sustaining networks calls for participants of a new breedone of dedication and care, and the educational resources to producti vely participate beyond the limite d participation of leisurely clicking through a limited set of opti ons. Sustainability for what inst itutions would consider their 7 Ken Friedman, The Wealth and Poverty of Networks, At a Distance: Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet eds. Annmarie Chandler, and Norie Neumark (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005), 419.

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52 equivalent of a network (curatorial sites) come s with the institutions cap abilities to generate funding over widened usership. The reality of artwork on the Intern et is that it has a limited lifespan, unlike fixated art objects, which in some cas es it refuses to be. St allabrass explains this ephemeral nature of Net art: T o see the swift decay of such un maintained online works is like witnessing, greatly accelerat ed, the disintegration of a fresco, as if fragments of plaster were falling before ones eyes.8 The more one subscribes to an institution s cultural interface, the more time that person will spend in the institutions space, and th e more rational the institutions modeling will become. Subscription here has a temporal value. Time becomes devotional, and the more time one devotes to a network, the more extended th at networks lifespan. Manovich describes Web designers desire to turn users in to hardcore users, or ones who stay on that designers one site as she/he strives to k eep the user stationary.9 This kind of devotion of the user for the designed page, Manovich, along with Web designers, refers to as eyeball hangtime, and this loyalty is measured by the stickiness of the Web page, or how much time an individual will devote to the site.10 Museums and galleries obviously would have a sticky situation on their hands if they could not compete for audiences devotion by running their own institutional sites, or what they deem networks, to emulate the independent artistic networks that reject the art object and offer a more radical conceptual art form. Thus, the inst itution requires curatorial efforts to construct a seemingly interactive digital equi valent to its physical space in an attempt at self-preservation. 8 Stallabrass, Internet Art 42. 9 Manovich, 161. 10 Ibid.

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53 New Criteria for Judgment Rosalind Krauss A Voyage on the North Sea: Art in the age of the Post-Medium Condition suggests that with the easy and cons tant reproducibility of outmoded art forms, contemporary art in the international fash ion of installation and intermedia work11 offers no valid criteria for assessment. Yet, New Medi a work that does not seek out technological experimentations, (such as those explori ng uncanny relationships between humans and machines) but instead, fosters an effective ne twork of users who with time construct new visual/semiotic ways to communicate and mainta in community, surely have an evaluative goal beyond the promotion of a technologically capab le formalism. Authored works seeking out specific institutional spaces for installation-base d representations of me dia work that merely functions as an eclectic object of the outmoded are more of a curatori al effort than an art process. Bourriaud explains their alternative: Unlike an object that is closed in on itself by the intervention of a style and a signature, present-day art shows that form only exis ts in the encounter and in the dynamic relationship enjoyed by an ar tistic proposition with othe r formations, artistic or otherwise.12 The relationships and encounters of networked New Media do in f act leave an aesthetic residue, which does not objectify the work as it is consta ntly in flux both visu ally and contextually, depending on the creative input of users. Contrary to Hansens insistency on New Media that communicate with the body as opposed to oc ularcentric models, networked New Media cognitively allow usership to create virtual action, which ofte n take on a visual form. The unlimited perceptual experiences of art in process a ttests to the demise of the old order of art, 11 Rosalind Krauss, A Voyage on the North Sea: Art in the Age of the Post-Medium Condition (New York: Thames & Hudson, 2000), 56. 12 Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics 21.

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54 the art of appearance.13 Pinpointing, labeling, and expl aining an evoloving art of communication obviously confuses the old orde r. Ascott states, Judgment, discernment, selection, rejection, siftin g, and sorting takes time. Particular ly if you have absolutely no idea what is going on, with no criteria, no values, no consensual base releva nt to the new digital phenomena to make judgments from.14 Along with the artistic co mmunication process comes the need for the sustainability of the network for that communication and a sincere effort to inform users of how the process of communication actually works, so that the process is not one of stylization and mystification li ke many of the works mentioned earlie r. Yet, it is this aspect of New Media that is most absent from all forms, whether truly particip atory or not. New Media must not be afraid to explain its elf. When it neglects to do so, institutional sensationalizing tends to supplant usership. Contributing to the Virtual Whole To correctly understand New Media art that uses the Internet for networking purposes, before judging it, one must be reminded of the n ew conceptual ability of the Internet. Brian Holmes in Archive and Experience: Imagin ing the Forum claims: The internet is a distribution system, as broadc ast technologies were in the past, but also a distributed system, which is a very different thing. It is both a set of sophisticated conduits for delivering messages to far-off recei vers, and a disjunct, virtual whole that can only function through the c ooperation of its distant parts.15 For networked art on the internet this means distant parts, or worldwide user s, should be able to directly affect the virtual whol e, or the artistic /creative body of the work itself. For users to 13 Roy Ascott, From Appearance to Apparition, Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology, and Consciousness eds. Edward A. Shanken (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 282. 14 Ascott, Mind of the Museum 344. 15 Brian Holmes, Archive and Experience : Imagining the Forum, Interaction: Artistic Practice in the Network eds. Amy Scholder and Jordan Crandall (New York: Distributed Art Publishers, 2001), 8.

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55 experience how they are affecting the virtual whol e in real time along with processing the effects of other users input, then the work tends to rela te this process best as a visual form. This does not mean that all collaborative communal projects taking place on the Net require visually stimulating graphics. Douglas Davis The Worlds First Collaborative Sentence (1994) instead retains a literary form as the work s title suggests. Although this wo rk successfully uses the Nets connectivity to allow participat ion amongst many users, its reliance on only the written word confines users ability to co mmunicate within the ideological boundaries of language. Not to suggest language is not an effective means for communication, but within New Media coupling language with more creative visual communication holds more hope for newer results. Perhaps this triggers a naive return to the utopian id ealism of early Modernis m, but with the newer connectivity of the Net old sentiments may ha ve new hope. For example, Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneaus Verbarium is an interactive text-to-form editor on the Internet where the online user can choose to write text messages and each of these messages functions as a genetic code to create a vi sual three-dimensional form.16 This work facilitates direct cognitive interaction from many users while allowing a vi sual form to morph based on the networks various textual input. The infinite possibilities for the visual to change with the networks interactions distinguishes this wo rk from a static authored object such as the work of Fiengold, Viola, Shaw, or Mongrel. However, this work too lacks a New Media s true sense of usership because of its inability to specifi cally relate to its users its te chnological process and its delivery of content to singular receivers. In other wo rds, users are not genui nely communicating, or creating a sense of community, by passively ty ping textual messages, while those messages mystically transform into an individualized vi sual representation. In th is scenario the work 16 Peter Weibel and Timothy Druckrey, eds., Net Condition: Art and Global Media (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001), 227.

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56 creates the virtual whole in its aesthetic form (via author ed algorithms), while users simply supply data that transforms it (similar to Shaws installation Web of Life ). Foster notes the artistic mistake of the authored process that transforms interaction into visual representations for the sake of communication amongst users, As with previous attempts to involve the au dience directly (in some abstract painting or some conceptual art), there is a risk of illegi bility here, which might reintroduce the artist as the principal figure and the primary exeget e of the work. At times, the death of the author has meant not the birth of the reader as Roland Barthes speculated, so much as the befuddlement of the viewer.17 This sense of illegibility results from the mystification of t echnology that comes with artists use of high-tech graphics and algorithmic animation that are unkno wn and unexplained to users. Not that Verbarium is as detached from usership as a work like Black Shoals Stock Market Planetarium basing its digital image, or virtual whole on data such as the stock market, but uninformed users are not affective ones. If the work could allow its virtual whole to fluctuate visually with user interaction wh ile explaining the process of change to users, while also striving to involve as many users as possi ble, then it would truly be a work of New Mediaor at least media subverting the restrictions of old media. New Worthy Appearing in the 2006 Whitney Biennial catalogue, Siva Vaidhyanathans The Technocultural Imagination: Life, Art, and Politic s in the Age of Total Connectivity suggests: In the first decade of the tw enty-first century, the proce ss of archiving and preserving have been distributed and democratized. So has the ability to remix and mash up sounds and images. With limited investment, peopl e can generate powerful new forms of communication and cultural expression and dist ribute them globally at no marginal cost. The long-term effects of this power are unclear.18 17 Foster, 194. 18 Siva Vaidhyanathan, The Technocultural Imagination: Life, Art and Politics in the Age of Total Connectivity, Whitney Museum of American Art. Biennial (2006): Day For Night eds. Chrissie Iles and Philippe Vergne (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art: Distributed by H.N. Abrams, 2006), 135.

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57 Of course any power emerging from this abil ity to remix under Bourriads concept of postproduction exists only when the artistic communi cation process occurs communally. The Net accommodates this process by networking users, while allowing them to affect the virtual whole, or artwork, comprised of such mashed-up sounds and images. Formally, the mash-up resulting from the visual communication of many users resembles a montage. Yet this form of montage is constantly in flux and without a uni fied sense of authorship, and t hus is not so formal at all. Instead of a resulting art object, or image, the assemblage of a networked New Media, based on the creative input of users, leaves an imprint of what a network a nd the act of creative interaction looks like. This visual realization of a networks c onnectivity was attempted also within earlier projects examining old media, su ch as that of television. In Feedback: Television Against Democracy David Joselit often references the attemp ts of Nam June Paik to democratize the medium of television by subverting its unidir ectional broadcasting of fixated imagery and narratives. In reference to Paiks Exposition of Experi mental Television Joselit states: In contrast to the standard structure of the network as a centralized source of information that is uniformly broadcast to a multitude of individual receivers, Paik customized a microcosmic network in which each TV recei ver would decode the signal in its own way.19 The result of this type of project is a plurality of data streams, or visual variants to the broadcasted images/narratives, which in some cases could be manipulated by the viewer.20 Warping televisions commodity imagery, as in the work Magnet TV which showed such data streams as digital waves moving across the screen due to a magnet placed onto of the receiver,21 19 David Joselit, Feedback: Television Against Democracy (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2007), 11-13. 20 Ibid, 13-14. 21 Ibid, 75.

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58 predates the mashing-up of audio visual materials in the era of post-production. Just as a desire to transform televisions unidirectional message s was based on an attempt to democratically open circuits22 via a participatory dimension for tele vision, artistic communi cation on the Net democratically demands an open network in which to participate and interact. The closest example of a work appropria tely deemed New Media through its open network, separation from institut ional influence and old models of authorship, and sincere facilitation of creative artistic communicat ion amongst affective users, is Andy Decks Glyphiti (2001). By either accessing the URL directly or simply searching the title under any search engine, one can connect to the work immediately without linking through any sort of curatorial protocol. When Glyphiti is accessed, a large scre en divided in half appear s on top of a plain grey background. The left side of the screen begins to download (depending on the speed of the Internet connection) into a grid-like structure of black and white text and image. The right side of the split screen shows a page as blank as either a freshly started word processing document, or blank canvas, depending on the users creative in tentions. As the images within the grid-like composition all appear on the screen it becomes cl ear that nothing exists on the page except for the two screens (the blank one and the black and white montage). No directions, no links, no attributions to sponsors, and no re ference to the artist are anywhere visible. At first a user might seem confused, which has been argued is the st rategy of high-tech compositions posing as New Media, such as the work of Viola. Yet because of its low-tech nature, any user who has ever used a computer with a mouse can simply click a few times to understand the communication process at work. On the left screen, any of the boxes appear ing within the grid can be clicked on with the mouse to become enlarged on the right screen. Th e user can then alter that image on the right 22 Joselit, 41.

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59 side screen with simple clicks of the m ouse (left clicking=draw ing feature and right clicking=erasure). If an image is not chosen from the grid scr een on the left, the user simply works on a blank white screen as mentioned befo re. The drawing feature is as simple as any artistic computer software. When the user clicks and drags the cursor, a black line will emerge on the white glow of the screen, or the whole screen can be colored black and then erased white lines can become the drawn lines. That is the only available artistic tool yet incredibly rendered digital drawings can be found on Glyphiti at almost any time (the montage is ever-changing). Karl D.D. Willis suggests that Glyphiti [a]chieves an optimum balance between the di fficulty of the interac tion and the range of possible creative outcomes. By re stricting interaction to a simple black & white grid, the user has a comfortable and eas ily controlled framework within which to create. Yet within that narrowly defined structure, th e creative possibilities are all but endless.23 The works low-tech quality, in terms of eas y usership and a lack of souped-up digital information aesthetics (such as the imperceptible ones of Viola), create a welcoming experience for any user, anywhere in the world, at any give n time. Users do not need to be educated on the works process, as was suggested earlier with Verbarium because unlike Verbarium users not only see the process of Glyphiti at work, but they partake in its aesthetic construction as well. The look of social interaction is not necessarily coherent, as th e work takes on a chatroom-esque quality with unrelated dialogues, cartoons, insign ia, political statements, and even ongoing chess games taking place. To apply Hansens bodily visi on to this work, one could not say that the users body is profoundly affected in any way w ith the mere computer screen delivering the work, yet what is clear is that the mind s ees the presence of many other human beings. 23 Karl D.D. Willis, User Authorship and Creativity within Interactivity, MULTIMEDIA '06: Proceedings of the 14th Annual ACM International Conference on Multimedia (New York: ACM Press, 2006), 734.

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60 Glyphiti differs from Paiks participatory subve rsion of broadcasted television imagery within various TV screens, simply because it has two screensone of the communal montage and one of the users creative contributions. In other words, with the te levision screen a user could view the image he/she was distorting, but not the contributions of others, unless all the screens were confined to one physical site (ins tallation). The Net allows for both the users interaction and the interaction of other users to be experienced simultaneously in virtual space. Manovich refers to the coexis tence of a number of overlappi ng windows as essential for the Graphic User Interface of a mode rn computer and suggests: A window interface has more to do with modern graphic design, which treats a page as a collection of different but equally important blocks of data such as text, images, and graphic elements, than with the cinematic screen.24 These simultaneous windows of blocks of data comprise Glyphiti s composition and suggest that the directive/authorial frame of the cinematic, or televisual, screen loses its authority within New Media to an interactive virtual whole of many simultaneous screens representing many producers. According to the ramifications set forth here for the New Media artwork, Glyphiti could in fact be criticized for its visual or formalistic presentation of interaction. However, the work is only experienced as an image (object ) when it is presented outside of the Net as a snapshot of the site. While the two screens are present as intended, the left side screen reminds the viewer that the work is one of usership and the blank white screen on the right begs for participation. And unlike works like Verbarium Glyphiti clearly makes use of both language and image, which breaks with any aesthetic agenda, su ch as the DOS-based visuals of Jodi.org Yet under the 24 Manovich, 97.

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61 majority of theories centered on genuine partic ipation within contemporary art, one might find one crucial point of criticism within Glyphiti where is its call for action? Many suggest that works such as Glyphiti represent a utopian ideal of community, since it only exists visually within virtual space. Hostil ity towards the utopian aims of any abstract art form has appeared through arts history, specifica lly during Modernism. For example, before the critical acceptance of American abstract painti ng, the Regionalism of Thomas Hart Benton was held to be a much more social art than the Ab stract Expressionism of Jackson Pollock. Yet art historian Erika Doss explains that both styles of painting were not about complacency or satisfactionbut of the struggl e for a new and better world.25 The key difference is that Benton puts forth an easy-to-read narrative, whereas Poll ock refuses one altogether. The narrative within art history clearly embodies a mode l of authorship and old medias need to broadcast ideologies out toward a multitude of singular receivers. Surpri singly, narrative also exists within alleged New Media works that proudly declare themselves participatory. The or ganization RTMark (or RTMark.com) bases itself on its ability to ign ite political action amongst its many viewers. Although the site may have, as it claims, f ound ways of uniting actions comparable to performance, environmental and installati on art with practical acts of subversion,26 the site functions as author selling ideas onto a mass of viewers. Unlike Glyphiti directly on RTMarks homepage reads, NOTICE: THIS DOCU MENT IS THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF RTMARK, INC. Usage implies agreement to terms .27 The word terms is underlined because it functions as a hyperlink, which, when followe d, reminds the viewer that RTMark is a 25 Erika Doss, Benton, Pollock, and the Politics of Mode rnism From Regionalism to Abstract Expressionism (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1991), 349. 26 Stallabrass, Internet Art 91. 27 RTMark, Homepage, http://www.rtmark.com (accessed July 30 2007).

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62 corporation (a bit hypocritical for a proclaimed anti-capitalis t organization), and like a corporation, RTMark protects it s assets, such as its software. In stark contrast to Glyphiti which has no disclaimers or license agreements, RTMa rk reminds the viewer that REPRODUCTION OR REDISTRIBUTION OF THE SOFTWARE IS PROHIBITED EXCEPT AS PROVIDED FOR IN THE APPLICABLE LICENSE AGREEMENT.28 RTMarks messages are not only authored, but protected as inte llectual property, and th is distribution of broadcasted ideas for subversive acts holds the same degree of intera ction and participation as the reading of a manifesto. Whether idealistic or not, the creation of a sense of community, such as that of Glyphiti represents New Medias ideal of usership mo re so than a corporations authored calls for action. The interactive creative communication taking place on Glyphiti offers a sense of community outside of a centralized locale, which be nefits all who participate. As its description along with its title might indicate, Glyphiti resembles the premise of earlier graffiti art. However, users do not need to find any speci fic physical wall to contribute to this collective art process. Users relationships with media are changed under this exemplary work of New Media. The message is not delivered or broadcast, and the arti stic content is not authored or constructed in any way. The work functions as facilitation for an artistic communication. There can be a textual call for action within the work, or there can be a formalist masterpiece appearing within the grid. Such possibilities differ from popularized forms of communication over the Net. Despite its prevalence, e-mail is not a co llective forum of communication. And an e-mail artwork would have the same process as mail art, with a single receiver changing a collective message and then passing it on to the next receiver. Popular chatro oms offer a collective forum, but only for textual 28 RTMark, Terms of Use, http://www.rtmark.com/rtcom.php/terms (accessed July 30 2007).

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63 exchange. The simultaneity of the co llective and indivi dual windows within Glyphiti shows both occurring communal contributions in the grid and the users own window of endless creative possibilities to contribute. An Old Conclusion for a New Art After the Internet seemed to loose its democratic potential of social connectivity, efforts that sought to commercialize and close the open social network of the Net resulted in a conceptual restriction of New Me dia art in both theory and practi ce. Just as Minimalism quickly responded to the rise of collective artistic co mmunication of Mail Art, New Media theories centered on institutional-specificity promoting digital art objects and closed networks redefined the type of communication and sense of particip ation the New Media artwork was expected to offer. As a result works that brought digital inform ation to old mediums such as sculpture, video and photography took prominent placement in bot h cultural spaces and New Media discourse. Not only were New Media rejecting the connectivity of Net altogeth er by retaining an art-object status, but even works on the Net used it as a closed network based on inhuman data as opposed to the input of users. Unfortunate ly, it still seems to be the case that New Media works are forces into old media distribution systems, which guara ntees their status as old media works severed from any connectivity or communal networking. The first decade of the new millennium offers improved channels of human communication systems due to the progressive ad vancements of technology. The majority of lives in contemporary society are possibly affect ed most by the technol ogical contributions of accessibility to immediate worldwide communication systems. The constant developments in telecommunications can now include any media a nd almost any type of information into any message traveling through virtual space (even me dical exams can be conducted online now). The

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64 art of New Media should offer a society strugg ling to stay at pace w ith advanced technology alternative social uses for that technology, al ong with newer artistic forms of interaction. Many would argue that interaction has exis ted throughout the history of art. However, interaction can simply be a works ability to change in some whether through human participants, or technolo gical reconfiguration. User ship, exists as a form of interaction based on a continuing process of change that comes from a multitude of human producers equally affecting the work. Artistically this can only be found in New Media works such as Glyphiti that offer a simultaneity of windows, which suggests a simultane ity of users affecting the work at the same time while not only experiencing their own interac tion with the work, but also the simultaneous creative contributions of others. Social intent al so emerged in arts history long before the Net enabled New Media works. Yet as seen with RT Mark, if social intent is based on a one-way distribution of authorship, it re tains old philosophies examining relationships other than an artistic community. Whether a community-based form of art, such as relational art, will be able to drastically improve social relations will depe nd on artists ability to facilitate desirable communal experiences of new artistic communication. Communally affective usership can exist when possible with new communication technologies if those technologies conceptually relate media in newer, more democratic ways. Artistic attempts to technologically transfor m the old art object w ith questionably new contributions are far less accomm odating to a newer society with the capability and desire to interact socially in new ways. U nderstanding past attempts in the history of art to facilitate as past sense of usership is cruc ial in evaluating New Media, becau se those attempts failed under the dominance of old media distribution systems. For example, Nam June Paiks attempt to make the distribution of television imagery a socially participatory process pr edated New Media like

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65 Glyphiti However, because of the unilateral, or undemocratic, distribu tion system of mass media, the Paiks television screens needed to a ll be at one site (insta llation) in order for participants to see thei r creative contributions amongst the cont ributions of others. Knowing this, Glyphiti could later implement two windows offering simultaneous experiences of a users own creative input along with the input of many other users without needed any physical site to do so. In other words, art history was the best way to determine a new use of media. Yet art historys older formalist evaluative tools can not be applied to New Medias c onceptual art of process. As artists facilitate creative new systems of communication, as oppos ed to authored content, the sustainability of the communities that form aroun d such artistic communication determines the success of a new mediated process. Perhaps art history has never been as important to the contemporary moment as it is now, with the curr ent need to establish if and how media are creatively being used in genuinely newer ways.

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66 LIST OF REFERENCES Alberro, Alexander. The Turn of the Scre w: Daniel Duren, Dan Flavin, and the Sixth Guggenheim Interna tional Exhibition. October Vol. 80 (Spring, 1997): 57-84. Ascott, Roy. From Appearance to Apparition. In Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology, and Consciousness Edited by Edward A. Shanken. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. Ascott, Roy. The Ars Electronica Center Datapool. In Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology, and Consciousness Edited by Edward A. Shanken. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. Ascott, Roy. The Mind of the Museum. In Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology, and Consciousness Edited by Edward A. Shanken. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. Bourriad, Nicolas. Postproduction: Culture as Screenpl ay: How Art Reprograms the World New York: Lukas & Sternberg, 2002. Bourriad, Nicolas. Relational Aesthetics Translated by Simon Pleasance & Fronza Woods with Mathieu Copeland. France: Les presses du rel, 2002. Broeckmann, Andreas. Are You Online? Presen ce and Participation in Network Art. In Ars Electronica: Facing the Future: A Survey of Two Decades Edited by Timothy Druckrey with Ars Electronica. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999. Chave, Anna C. Minimalism and the Rhetoric of Power. Arts Magazine Vol. 64, no. 5 (Jan. 1990): 44-63. Danto, Arthur. Ray Johnson. In The Madonna of the Future: Essays in a Pluralistic Art World New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000. Debord, Guy. Comments on the Society of the Sp ectacle. Translated by Malcolm Imrie. London: Verso, 2002. Debord, Guy. Society of the Spectacle. Detroit: Black & Red, 1983. Doss, Erika. Benton, Pollock, and the Politics of Mode rnism From Regionalism to Abstract Expressionism Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1991. Foster, Hal. Chat Rooms. In Participation: Documents of Contemporary Art Edited by Claire Bishop. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006. Friedman, Ken. The Early Days of Ma il Art: An Historical Overview. In Eternal Network: A Mail Art Anthology. Edited by Chuck Welch. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1995.

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67 Friedman, Ken. The Wealth and Poverty of Networks. In At a Distance: Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet. Edited by Annmarie Chandler, and Norie Neumark. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005. Green, Rachel. Internet Art New York: Thames & Hudson, 2004. Hansen, Mark B.N. New Philosophy for New Media Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004. Hardt, Negri, and Antonio Negri. Empire Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000. Held, John, Jr. The Mail Art Exhibition: Pers onal Worlds to Cultural Strategies. In At a Distance: Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet. Edited by Annmarie Chandler, and Norie Neumark. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005. Holmes, Brian. Archive and Experience: Im agining the Forum. In Interaction: Artistic Practice in the Network Edited by Amy Scholder with Jordan Crandall. New York: Distri buted Art Publishers, 2001. Janko, Siegbert. The Spirit of Linz. In Ars Electronica, 1979-2004: The Network for Art, Technology and Society: The First 25 Years Edited by Hannes Leopoldseder, Christine Schpf, and Gerfried Stocker. Ge rmany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2004. Joselit, David. Feedback: Television Against Democracy Cambridge: MIT Press, 2007. Krauss, Rosalind. A Voyage on the North Sea: Art in the Age of the Post-Medium Condition New York: Thames & Hudson, 2000. Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001. Morris, Robert. Notes on Sculpture, Part 2. In Continuous Project Altered Daily: The Writings of Robert Morris Cambridge: MIT Press, 1993. Net_Condition_Art and Global Media Edited by Peter Weibel and Timothy Druckrey. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001. Published in conjunction with the exhibitions Net_Condition and Art and Global Medi a at ZKM Center for Art and Media. Owens, Craig. From Work to Frame, or, Is Ther e Life After The Death of the Author? In Beyond Recognition: Representation, Power, and Culture Edited by Scott Bryson, Babara Kruger, Lynne Tillman, and Jane Weinstock. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992. Paul, Christiane. Digital Art London: Thames & Hudson, 2003. Rutsky, R.L. High Techne Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999. Saper, Craig J. Networked Art Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001.

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68 Saper, Craig. Networked Psychoanalysis: A Dialogue with Anna Freud Banana. In At a Distance: Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet. Edited by Annmarie Chandler, and Norie Neumark. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005. Smith, Owen F. Fluxus Praxis: An Exploration of Connections, Creativity, and Community. In At a Distance: Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet. Edited by Annmarie Chandler, and Norie Neumark. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005. Stallabrass, Julian. Art Incorporated: The Story of Contemporary Art Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Stallabrass, Julian. Internet Art: The Online Cl ash of Culture and Commerce London: Tate Publishing, 2003. Vaidhyanathan, Siva. The Technocultural Imaginat ion: Life, Art and Pol itics in the Age of Total Connectivity. In Whitney Museum of American Art. Biennial (2006): Day For Night Edited by Chrissie Iles and Philippe Vergne. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art: Distributed by H.N. Abrams, 2006. Willis, Karl D.D. User Authorship and Creativity within Interactivity. In MULTIMEDIA '06: Proceedings of the 14th Annual ACM International Conference on Multimedia New York: ACM Press, 2006.

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69 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Justin R. Warner received his bachelors de gree in art history a nd corporate media from James Madison University. Before coming to the Univer sity of Florida, he worked as an intern at both the Corcoran Gallery and also the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. He earned his Master of Arts at the Univ ersity of Florida in 2007.