Rob Davies: New Media – Artists Impression -Thoughts
Rael Artel: Tangible net.art
Tim Murray: Curating New Media
Brad Todd: Teo Spiller Interview
New York Times: There May Be Money in Internet Art After All
Sebastjan Leban & Stas Kleindienst: Self/forced Exclusion: An Interview with Teo Spiller 2007 (video)
Gajba TV, interview, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Rael Artel: – an interview with Teo Spiller
Rael Artel: Some months ago I were in a conference titled “A Decade of Web-design” which was dedicated to 10 years of history of web-design. At the same time I was wondering, that it is 10-year anniversary of net.art as well. What do you consider as the biggest developments in contemporary art iniciated by net.art?
Teo Spiller: WWW means “World Wide Web”. Internet is a network, constructed of equal knots. It is not hierarchic and it is world spread. It’s a perfect tool to build communities of people with equal interesses from around the world. For example: the golden Nica on Ars Prix Electronica in 1999 for category .net received Linus Torvalds, the initiator of Linux operating system. Linux is a great metaphor for an active web community. Since software multicorporations are selling their licence software, makeing enormous profits and terrorising the society with all kind of “Anti-pirate” alliances, a group of programmers from around the world decided to produce equal software for free. Not just, the software is free, also the source code is free and it’s desired to distribute it, control and change source codes and develop it further. As a new open source software comes out, thousands of programers around the world test and improve it, so bugs are removed much faster, than from licence software. It’s just one of many examples, how is Internet as a media makeing the society much more open. I think, that the restrictions of human rights in some countries in last few years are one of reactions to this openness of the society. It’s in the conservative mind, that someone or something must think for you. Internet also helped to the fall of the Eastern block: it’s impossible to continue the mind and the speach control, if people use Internet. But without Internet the economical development is todays impossible. As we see, Internet changed the society, so it certainly also influence contemporary art. An important feature of projects realised on the WWW is that they can constantly be updated and changed, so that there is never a ready and fixed creation or “work”. What develops from one idea of one single artist with the collaboration of many others, is incalculable. It also makes it possible the art to be produced and distributed outside the convetional art system. Convetional art system didn’t succeed to develop relevant solutions to present net.art out of the Net. It’s even more interesting, that the conventional system uses Internet as an advertitsing media, but is not able to contextualise the art, that happens on it. It’s also important, that net.art manifests a collective creativity, changeing of ideas and informations.
RA: Your portfolio is long and full of pioneering projects in the virtual space. How you happened to be in net as an artist? How are you still a net.artist?
TS: In 1995 Internet was for the first time public used in Slovenia. It coincide with my first exhibition of computer graphics, so I produced a virtual gallery of my works on Internet. Like in most Eastern countries, that were pioneering steps of connecting computers, communications and arts. Soon I found out, Internet is more than just a presentation tool. First I mainly did interactive multimedia works with it, but soon I discovered its potentials of linking, adding and transforming other peoples contents and actions in new, creative ways. It was great fun doing things like “Virtual trash can”, where you throw chosen web sites into a trash can or “Spamsonnets”, where a program produces poetry of subjects of spam mail messages. We could say, that most early net.art works are “funny, but not too funny”. There were also some practical reasons to continue doing net.art: It’s very cheap to produce a work and it’s very easy to distribute it. If they invite you to a festival or an exhibition, you just bring the URL of your project with. No logistic and financial problems at all. But on the other hand, there is also no money from it, so I investigated the possibilities of selling a net.art work. I sold my work “Megatronix” to Ljubljana municipal museum and it was one of the world first (maybe even the first one?) transaction like this. I organised negotiations between me and the buyer as an international web forum with all kind of professionals (curators, media artists, etc.). It was a very productive discussion about exhibiting and selling net.art. But with the time, there was less and less new to discover on the net. Never say never, but momentarily I am not very enthusiastic to do more net.art works.
RA: The project you present in Rael Artel Gallery is a part of your tangible net.art project. For me it seems to be a translation-project at first. Could you please describe this translation-process a bit?
TS: After 10 years on the net, I don’t find anything exciting in net.art anymore. Internet became a part of reallity, a tool everybody uses, just like TV, car or phone. What had to be told about Internet, was already told. Since I come from visual arts, it is logical, I search that direction, but of course with strong influence of what I did last 10 years.
I agree with Peter Weibel, that “as essential sucesses of the new technical media, video and computer, and also old technical media, photography and film, we don’t consider only that they initiated new artistic movements, created new media expressions, but also that they have decisively acted upon the historical media, such as painting and sculpture. In this aspect the new media aren’t only building a new branch on the tree of art, but are changing the whole tree. It is furthermore necessary to distinguish between old technical media (photography, film) and new technical media (video, computer) on one side and arts, such as painting and sculpture, which until now weren’t even considered as media but became media under the influence of media, namely the old non-technical media. With the experience of the new media we perceive old media differently. With the practices of new technical media we also evaluate the practices of old nontechnical media in a new way. We could go as far as to say that the success of the new media isn’t shown in the new artistic forms and possibilities, but rather in the fact that they made the old artistic media available in a new way and above all kept them alive – by forcing them to change.”
I would rather call it transformation than translation process – a transformation of outputs of my artistic expressions. Not just investigating Internet by itself, but also discovering the relations and influences between technology and human, influences that transformation of mine. I am looking for artistic practices, where the role of the human and the technology in the creative process are as tight connected as possible. I am not interested in works, done only by machines (computer graphics by example), but also not in works, done only in conventional media. Information society is no more a futuristic fairy tail, but rather a reality, where we accept technology as a part of everydays life. Reality is material, tangible, so should my works be: tangible, with technology accepted as a part of it.
CURATING NEW MEDIA
Tim Murray on site of The University of New South Wales, Australia
Partially in response to the transience of .art on the net, I joined with Teo Spiller of Ljubljana, Slovenia in an experimental competition that featured net.art at the INFOS2000 Festival, in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in an “off-line” format (http://grafika.splet.net/infos2000/)–it was for this curatorial statement of this exhibition, “Free Floating Rhizomes: Off-Line Net.Art,” that I first penned some of the concerns expressed above. The purpose was not to wrench net.art from its liberational confines, but to reflect further on the notion of the confine itself, and to prompt innovative thought about the spontaneous nature of softwares and net.art projects as they float free of the network specific territory that often has birthed them. While some artists responded to the call for entries by saying that such “off-line” birthing meant the literal death of net.art, we preferred to think of the off-line zone as a new circuit of net.intensity. The pieces were submitted to us on 2MB files for transfer to an exibition CD-Rom. Artists were asked to agree to have their works copied at will. The CD-Rom format of this net.art exhibition permitted its physical transfer among casual visitors to INFOS 2000 who might not otherwise have the curatorial information or cultural interest to access these individual projects on the web. The paradoxical off-line format of this net.art show also provided the curators with the means to disseminate it to cultural institutions in locales and regions where high-speed cable is an anomaly. The CD-Rom was distributed as a supplement of M’ars: Magazine of the Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana, and sent for free to international, independent art centers. In presenting this exhibition in off-line form, we offered it for use to individuals, public social centers, schools, and libraries in economically besieged zones that might not have access to the high speed connections necessary for the ideal presentation of the majority of the net.art projects here presented. While celebrating our selection of artists who chose to profit from the most complicated of softwares and digital platforms, we sought to make their work available to users in the most elementary of digital environments. This gesture we understood as our commitment to addressing the digital divide while expanding the rhizomatic frontiers of digital art, remote control, and their energetic flux.
TEO SPILLER INTERVIEW
By Brad Todd, 5.3.2001
Brad Todd: When you first started making work for the web did you find that the language of representation (like gifs, flash, audio, interactivity etc.) was immediately applicable to your way of working and making art or did you find that it needed a whole new approach in terms of content. (ie. was your work enhanced by this new language or made seemingly irrelevant by it?)
Teo Spiller: The time I started doing web pieces (I am a painter and did a virtual gallery of computer graphics before – in ’95) just the frames arrived in HTML (no flash, shockwave, mp3, etc. yet) and my first work “Capriccess for Netscape”, “Esmeralda” and “Cyberbride” later, were full of frames.
At the time as I was still painting (with brushes on canvas), I was dreaming about doing multimedia performances as a kind of extended sound-painting-sculpture. I had in mind laser holograms in space together with quadrophonic backgrounds. It was (and still is) technological impossible, so I found the net (or so to say interactive computer art) a good substitute for it.
Actually, I understood the “net.art” most as the interactive art at the beginning, later I begun using the possibilities of linking, communicating with servers around the world, exploring the structure of cyber-space, with works like “Megatronix”, “Interactive Poem”, “Trash can” and others.
BT: What sort of work did you make before the advent of net.art?
TS: Drawing, painting, digital graphic arts.
BT: You work in Slovenia, what sort of community exists there for net.art? Do you have access to high-speed connections for more intensive multimedia authoring, or do you find yourself limited by bandwidth?
TS: There is the well-known Ljudmila Digital Media Lab and the net.zine Kimoto Timora. There are actually only four real net.artists living and working in Slovenia now: Vuk Cosic (he says, he’s already retired), Igor Stromajer (Intima virtual base), Jaka Zeleznikar and myself. Not many, but you must also have in minds two things:
a) Slovenia has only 2 million inhabitants
b) in almost every net.art festival in the world there is at least one of us presenting his work
BT: What are your favourite “tools”? ie. what are your favourite softwares, browser and hardware?
I think, the best software is always the one your friend knows very well. So you can ask him things, as you don’t know how to go on. All softwares are more or less bad, the point is to spend as less as possible of your time for learning, installing, upgrading, maintaining, etc. it. I think, computers and softwares are ruling our lives, we are more and more slaves to it. It’s the most aggressive way of the consuming society. You just have to have the newest software and hardware, otherwise you are not compatible with others anymore. I always laugh how are people enthusiastic about every new effect (graphics, web or any other), without doing any content – just the visual effects.
Browsers are another story (see Calin Man: The last man standing) – Netscape lost the fight against MS and now Explorer can do more things than Netscape. For the most interesting things, you have to write two different codes: one for Explorer and one for Netscape. It’s stupid, awful and extremely time consuming.
The monopolistic status of Microsoft is a big handicap for us users. I think, now is the time for software industry to spend next 5 years just to correct all their bugs…
BT: So, in your opinion are we sitting on the biggest revolution in the history of representation/communication as we know it, empowering viewers and authors the world over, or is the internet and interactive work just another form of simulacra and shadow theatre, incapable of providing anything more than entertainment?
TS: It is definitely increasing the difference between rich and poor more than any other thing before.
Is it revolution or evolution? It is definitely changing man’s perception.
I wouldn’t say “anything more than entertainment” – I think, the entertainment is the army of the future, the force of power, how to rule people. The material needs are quite well covered (in the West of course) and I think, the “bait” for masses is today’s no more the “social equality” and other so-to-call communistic ideologies, but the entertainment, the way, how they spend their free time. The entertainment becomes the essence of today’s human.
BT: What are your feelings about artists having their own domain names and basically having an online archive of their projects (like yourself)? Do you find that it is a dream come true for the artist or is it contributing to the further isolation of art production as more and more artist take to the net and not to the street so to speak?
TS: Some my works have over 10.000 hits. Who “on the street” has it?
I think, “common people” won’t have interest for art, neither on the street, neither on the web. I organized a workshop for art teachers about net and interactive art for INFOS 99. After 3 hours of explaining [(with many, many examples), what is interactive art, that now instead of going to theatre, opera, concert, gallery or reading a book or watching a good movie, you can “consume” art also with the mouse and keyboard, siting beside your computer’s screen, etc.], a lady says: “I was thinking, we would learn, how to do nice homepages for our schools”.
As I surf the homepages of young people, I feel, they want to express themselves, they know the technology well and I wish to show them, how to express themselves on the web, to do an interactive work instead doing Pamela Anderson fan pages. I am sure, many of them write poems, draw, and play instruments. They are expressing themselves, as they still have time for it (later, they will spend all their time for the job, family, shopping, etc.) and I want to show them, the web is a perfect media for them. It’s multimedia, it’s cheap, worldwide, interactive.
net.art is the only thing, that originates on the web and is represented (consumed) on the web. But people understand web as something, where they should represent things from the physical reality. If they would “connect” art and web, they would do interactive galleries or they would “put” their poems on the web. They can’t understand net as the media for doing (not just representing) “art” or constructive expressing themselves.
But I still haven’t given up. This year, they’ll get a CD-ROM with interactive art works on INFOS 2000 !!!!!!
BT: Can you share any amazing sites or projects with us that have made a difference in your worldview or art
TS: The most favorite project is usually the last one.
I think, the best thing I ever did in my life is my son Ian (he’s 3 months old now). I put a few of his pictures on the Web and called it “the best thing I ever did”. It might sound most stupid and obscure, but maybe this is the best concept on my web page. It’s like “the living sculpture”. Pure reality, which is recognized as art, if it’s announced as art (is it?). Why doing green (Carlos Basualdo – GFP BUNNY by Eduardo Kac) rabbits with genetic engineering, if you can produce much more “advanced” living being the most natural way? It’s definitely the most “on the edge” of the field of art.
Otherwise, from my newer works, “trash_can” is funny and people like it, “Interactive poem” is conceptual very interesting, “Empty” is a citation to Cage’s music composition “2,53” (the silence), empty canvases, empty galleries, empty sheets of paper as literature. In net.art it is the empty web directory….
P.S. What I would still like to accent is “selling net.art”. I am one of first net.artists on the world, which sold a net.art piece (to Ljubljana Municipal Gallery). The “negotiations” about buying-selling were organized as an international web forum. You can find a nice article about it in “Artslarge” ( Matthew Mirapaul in New York Times on-line ).