10.09. - 10.09.13:30 - 19:00

Kunstuniversität Linz / K2

Closeness vs Dislocation – Contextualising Net-Based Art

The field of media art was expanded in the 1990s to include the genre of network art. Exploratory and dynamically creative, critically probing and transcending the boundaries of both the medium and the very concept of art itself, it has nevertheless often been declared obsolete.

Founded in 2005 in Linz, the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Media.Art.Research has taken on the task of integrating this relatively young genre of media art into the research activities of art scholars, developing forms of description custom-tailored to these types of works, and combining existing theoretical approaches to the source material. On the basis of a discussion of the different methodologies that can be utilized in going about this, the “Closeness vs Dislocation - Contextualising Net-Based Art” conference will attempt to place Internet art into a necessarily interdisciplinary context of media art research and, as part of the effort to preserve mankind’s digital cultural heritage, address issues having to do with the archiving and presentation of artworks of this genre.

In addition to a historical elaboration of how the Internet came to be constituted as an artistic medium and the resulting consequences for the process of artistic creativity (Ted Nelson, Lev Manovich, Marc Ries), conference participants will explicitly scrutinize approaches and references in the field of art history that interlink net-based art and traditional artforms (Julian Stallabrass, Verena Kuni, Charlie Gere). The presentation of the “” archiving and documentation project (Gunther Reisinger, Dieter Daniels) will establish the connection between the theoretical basis on one hand and restoration and archiving applications on the other and, as applied basic research, thereby complete the conference’s agenda.

1:40 PM - 2:20 PM 

Ted Nelson (AU)

 “Unifying Future Media”

Despite rumors of "convergence," the separate media of text, audio and video remain totally separate -- distinct in structure, presentation and digital form. Each of these has been digitized in imitation of its prior Equivalent -- paper, phonograph record, movie and TV show.

We take the opposite approach: a unifying data system to represent all three, separately or together, with common visualizations available. This system is intended to allow easy hybridization of new media -- like text with audio, audio with text, multiscreen movies, or a deeply interactive mix. We can of course also revert to conventional presentations. This data structure we call an EDL -- a generalized EDL, based on the Edit Decision List of video and movies, to which we add overlays of formatting, links, additional structure, and interaction. We believe this is both more versatile and simpler than conventional approaches.

2:20 PM - 2:50 PM

Lev Manovich (US)

“The Infinite Expansion” 

Lev Manovich will present a brief cultural history of how a computer was gradually turned into a machine for media simulation and new media invention between early 1960s and late 1970s (Sutherland, Nelson, Engelbart, Kay, Negroponte, and others). He will argue that  today we are dealing with unforeseen result of this transformation: that is, the constant invention of new media by designers, programmers, computer scientists, and artists has replaced creation of content. Thus, media is finally indeed became the message. More precisely: constantly changing and expanding media possibilities became more culturally important than content.

2:50 PM - 3:20 PM

Marc Ries (AT)

“The Art of Sharing. From Early Netart to Web 2.0” 

To begin with, netart is understood as the art of the net, the mass medium of the Internet, a singular aestheticization of acts to induce the existence of its users. Particularly in the early days of telecommunication projects, this aestheticization can be described in the words of Walter Benjamin as a “nonsensuous similarity”; their central media were writing and music, discussions in mailboxes, collaborative writing, text-based game worlds, concert broadcasts as “telephone music”. The lecture will use this first phase of netart as an insight into the ontology of the Internet, into the double figure of sharing and dividere and participere, which can still be found up to the present and especially in Web 2.0 applications.

3:40 PM - 4:10 PM

Charlie Gere (UK)

“Net-based art and the gallery”

In this presentation I will examine the relation between net-based art and traditional cultural institutions such as galleries and museums.
Such art is a product of the 'new regime of telecommunications', the 'new electronic space, the space of television, cinema, telephone, videos, fax, e-mail, hypertext, and the Internet' that, according to J. Hillis Miller, has 'profoundly altered the economies of the self, the home, the workplace, the university, and the nation-state's politics,'which have been 'traditionally ordered around the firm boundaries of an inside-outside dichotomy'. (Or, in other words 'goodbye privacy'.) As another product of this dichotomy, the gallery or museum is profoundly challenged by the implications of net-based art which confounds these 'inside/outside divisions'. Thus it is not surprising that museums and galleries have so far had difficulty engaging with net-based art. Beyond the (largely surmountable) practical problems such work presents, it bring radically into question of the role and continued existence of the gallery in this 'new regime of telecommunications'.

4:10 PM - 4:40 PM

Verena Kuni (CH)

"Why I Never Became a Net Art Historian" 

As the title implies, my lecture will explore why I never became a net art historian. This suggestion may seem to implicate the reasons were rather personal and subjective than anything else. However, to my great regret this is not the case. Moreover, what distracted me from getting into this position was anything but a stable set of causes. Rather reasons were undergoing changes over the years.

In fact my attempt to investigate the determining factors will allow closer insight into what is sometimes called "a" or even "the history of net art", as well as to discuss a whole range of methodological, technical and technological, economical and context-related problems that were and are relevant for a systematic approach to the developments in the related field of cultural production.

4:40 PM - 5:10 PM 

Julian Stallabrass (UK)

Can Art History Digest the Net?

It would appear that Internet art causes various deep problems for art institutions, including art history. Some of these are a subset of the more general problem of the 'post-medium' condition; others more specific difficulties over definition, the fixed art object, ownership, curation and conservation. Yet the model of art still holds a strong appeal for many of those who make cultural works for the Net, as they play with components of art history, just as gallery-bound artists do. Equally, art history has faced such challenges before, notably with photography and video, which presented at least initially many similar problems. Perhaps, then, art history is not as defenceless as might first be thought, and its reserves of conservative tradition regarding taste and judgement hold out a warning to online cultural activists and 'artists'.

5:30 PM - 6 PM

Gunther Reisinger (AT)

„Symbiotic methods. Interdisciplinary approaches towards net-based art” 

On the basis of an overview of a research project based at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Medien.Kunst.Forschung dealing with the integration of net-based art in the context of art studies, questions are outlined about the adaptation of the relevant art historical method towards an interdisciplinary approach in between art history, musicology and computer science. The sub-project that will be presented, “”, is understood as applied basic research in the form of an online edition of Internet-based art and serves the evaluation of theoretical considerations using the example of specific cases.

6 PM - 6:30 PM 

Dieter Daniels (DE)

„Digital Heritage“ 

The project “” stands for the work of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Medien.Kunst.Forschung in an area of “Digital Heritage” that is not otherwise taken into consideration by any classical collection institution. Neither libraries nor museums nor media archives see themselves as responsible for it. In this field that is ignored by the established cultural institutions, our institute’s work is positioned as interdisciplinary, applied basic research conjoining media-historical and cultural studies contextualization (at this conference) and an art studies analysis of the projects with technical restoration (in the online representation of “”) in an integrative approach. 

The historical significance of these “net pioneers” is made even more evident by the current development of communities in Web 2.0, yet this is starkly contrasted by the fact that they are in danger of being lost completely within the next decade. In comparison with this, forms of media art that have become established in the art market (video installation, etc.) are meanwhile conserved in museums at great expense – while net art, which is just as important in both art history and contemporary history, still remains beyond the criteria for art historical evaluation.

Discussion Moderation: Dieter Daniels (AT/DE)

Organizer: Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Media.Art.Research.

Concept: Gunther Reisinger

All Dates:

10.09.  13:30 - 19:00