nettime Reflections on Conceptual Art and its relation to New Media

2005-07-13 Thread Eduardo Navas
Online at
FEATURE.REVIEW: Reflections on Conceptual Art and its relation to New Media,
a month long conversation at Empyre

BY: Eduardo Navas
I was a guest speaker on Empyre during the month of April 2005. The
following text is a revision of two particular postings on Conceptual art,
which I here use as launching platforms to reflect on the long debate that
took place between Raul Ferrera Balanquet (CU/MX), Kate Southworth and
Patrick Simons(UK), and myself. Other invited guests included Lucrezia
Cippitelli (IT), Heidi Figueroa Sarriera (PR), Raquel Herrera Ferrer (ES),
Lucas Bambozzi (BR), Andres Burbano (CO), and Joeser =C1lvarez. This text is
also part of a larger essay which will be published at a later date in its

The conversation was fruitful in various ways, ranging from abstract
theoretical propositions to more personal statements. The online exchange
proved to be one of the most important experiences for me until now, because
I learned that colonial ideology is more powerful than I expected. It is
thanks to Raul's intervention (this is how he considered his writing) that I
realized this shortly after the discussion came to a close. Such realization
will be the subject of reflection for the second part of this series. In
this first part I will focus on the premise proposed by Christina McPhee for
the month long conversation.

The theme of the month at Empyre:
Do conceptual art and curatorial practice merge in post digital cultural
production? How are new media art, criticism and curatorial practice a
'transgressive' ecology?

While it is true that artists part of the group were influenced by a
certain type of conceptualism, the premises behind conceptual art as it is
understood from its origins in the New York scene is practically irrelevant
in new media practice. When it is brought up it is often in allegorical
form. In regards to this, we can consider a work that has been reviewed
here. MTAA's One Year Performance,[1] which allegorizes Performance artist
Sam Hsieh's One year performance where he stayed in a cell for a whole year.

Conceptual art, mainly in the New York, developed in reaction to
Greenbergian modernism; this is specific to Joseph Kosuth and his
contemporaries. However conceptual practice became quite diverse and took on
many approaches around the world.[2]

Critical art practices since the turn of the twentieth century have relied
on a materialist approach to art making.[3] To be specific, the artist looks
at the subject and considers key material elements to then make them obvious
to the viewer, who if the work is developed carefully, will come to question
it according to the exposed contradictions, coherences, limitations, and
excess, which can be read as open-ended questions, or at times as forms
subject to the sublime (the latter may be problematic for some
conceptualists who are critical of ideology). The artist can claim that what
she has done is nothing but show what was already there, thus appearing
critical and detached with proper distance, thus questioning not only what
the role of the artist is, but also the idea of originality. This is what
Duchamp did with his famous Urinal.[4] As it is commonly known, he did
nothing but choose a work that exposed the artist's role in art practice and
her/his relation to the growing industrial world. However, he was not
directly questioning the material aspect of the work of art. Conceptualism
did-New York conceptualism to be exact.[5] Whether moving towards or away
from the object; the point is that, in conceptualism, the materiality of the
object of art was in question, or at least it was the subject of reflection.
Yet, if this is to be contested, what can be said about Conceptualism is
that its subject was the idea as the object of art.[6]

With new media we experience works that are not materialized in the
conventional sense to which conceptualism reacted. This is in part because
new media works are easily reproducible. What is unique about new media art
is that it did not face what other mediums had faced in the past to be
legitimated. Issues of originality and purposiveness were previously dealt
with by other media such as photography and most importantly Film. In fact,
new media was understood so quickly as a vehicle for efficient dissemination
that it swiftly moved to affect previously existing media. New media is
considered to have pronounced major reciprocal effects, especially in
Cinema. As Lev Manovich explains:

Computer media redefine the very identity of cinema. In a symposium that
took place in Hollywood in the spring of 1996, one of the participants
provocatively referred to movies as flatties and to human actors as
organics and soft-fuzzies. As these terms accurately suggest, what used
to be cinema's defining characteristics are now just default options, with
many other available.[7]

Here we notice how new media's language comes to redefine how 

nettime An Assault on Neurospace (Misguided Directions for)

2005-07-13 Thread Matteo Pasquinelli

Paper presented in a draft version at Utopia Reversed in Weimar, May =20
An attempt to map new forms of activism in a post-internet framework.
Half theoretical, half gonzo. Reader-friendly pdf recommended:


Matteo Pasquinelli
An Assault on Neurospace (Misguided Directions for)

 We are implicit, here, all of us,
 in a vast physical construct of
 artificially linked nervous systems.
 Invisible. We cannot touch it.
 -- William Gibson, In the visegrips of Dr. Satan

1. A libidinal geology of media spaces

What is the field that media art and media activism are meant to =20
occupy today? What is the place of the creative act? =46rom the modern =20=

utopias to  movie and television imagery into the cyberspace of =20
digital technologies, different kinds of media spaces populate =20
contemporary history and produce each their own characters, =20
conflicts, aesthetics and narrations. Quoting Michel Serres1 we can =20
say today: we inhabit a multiplicity of media spaces. The present =20
paper sketches out a short history of material and immaterial, =20
political and psychic media spaces, wondering with Jameson: why =20
should landscape be any less dramatic than the Event?2. According to =20=

Henry Lefebvre (author of the seminal The production of the space3) =20
space is never a neutral background, but always the product of a =20
social conflict. In that sense we want to study its invisible =20
architecture, how our desires are invested in it, how new spaces are =20
opened by new technologies, languages and practices. We would like to =20=

apply to media spaces what Lefebvre wrote in 1974, not without being =20
accused of fetishism: Today more than ever, the class struggle is =20
inscribed in space. Today's place of political and artistic action =20
is but a stratification of previous spaces, and we need a sort of a =20
geology of the invisible to write its history.
 We are aware that the first social impact of a given technology =20
is to modify the sense of place and generate its own collective =20
dimension (see Joshua Meyrowitz's research4). Recent history has been =20=

dominated by continuous revolutions and colonizations of the human =20
biosphere by new species of devices and therefore our attention will =20
focus on technological media spaces and how the creative act inhabits =20=

them. Witnessing the exodus of radical and innovative energies that =20
had populated cyberspace during the last decade, we wonder whether =20
they are gathering somewhere else. The space issue can never be =20
separated from the field of forces and conflicts generating it: we do =20=

not want to use an Euclidean-Cartesian (or better, crypto-scientific) =20=

approach as certain media culture does, adopting unconsciously some =20
kind of techno-determinism. Space is always traversed by a vital =20
force, by a desire.
 According to PoMo philosophers the West is living its libidinal =20
sunset: a continuous haemorrhage emptying bodies and cities and =20
leaving but relics and anaemic simulacra behind it (think about the =20
End of Grand Narratives, but also the crisis of democratic =20
institutions or the death of the artwork as we used to know it). And =20
after the crash of the new economy, crisis of net culture, impasse of =20=

the no-war movement, whoever scouts around for new subverting =20
strategies against the post-9/11 new world (dis)order is told by =20
philosophers like Zizek that there is no escape out of the Code. We =20
are all part of homo sucker5: he/she who believes to be the one =20
manipulating indeed is the one being manipulated, he/she who believes =20=

to laugh at the dominant Ideology indeed is strengthening its egemony =20=

on himself/herself. And so on, from one dialectical impasse to =20
another, exactly like situationists saw no escape from the paranoia =20
of Spectacle or postmodernists from the End of History. In PoMo =20
dialectical toys, on one hand the libidinal energy seems to dissolve =20
itself into the phantasmagoria of consumerism, on the other hand it =20
is condemned to spin around itself in the vicious circles of =20
radicalism. The existential and political crisis of the West, then, =20
is not due to a haemorrhage of vital energies only, but even to their =20=

confinement into self-referential circuits and spaces. Therefore we =20
wonder if the debate itself on the western art and politics crisis is =20=

a prisoner of categories already evacuated by the energies of =20
history. We want to investigate the spaces where new energies are =20
expressing their existential angst, suspecting  that there are new =20
spaces being populated out of the radar of academic philosophy, =20
institutional politics and art criticism.

2. The becoming-net of space

Utopias and religious sagas have often been based on the evocation of =20=

spaces radically other. Religion, as an intimate semiotic 

Re: nettime Just do it! - Intellectual theft as a curatorial

2005-07-13 Thread Heiko Recktenwald
Dont understand you, John and Inke are more or less saying the same.
Ignore those Lessig etc phantasies and do what you want.
As far as you are an artist etc.
Copyright, I like it, is another level..

Linz is another country and a catalogue in a state run institution is
something else anyway.


On Sun, 10 Jul 2005, sascha brossmann wrote:

 on 7/8/05 1:05 AM, John Young wrote:
 [would-be-revolutionary unreflected religious crap deleted]

 you're nothing but a cocky loudmouthed pratt, john. and it's an utter

#  distributed via nettime: no commercial use without permission
#  nettime is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: [EMAIL PROTECTED] and info nettime-l in the msg body
#  archive: contact: