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Tomarken.com > Revolution > Why make art of the network? (02-07-02)
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Richard Tebrick
02.07.02- St. Louis, MO

Why make art of the network? …early notes on the upcoming paper The computer art object: (logic && network).I find that a lot of what Baudrillard says in Simulacra and Simulation is applicable not only to developing his theory of cultural materialism, but to developing a theory of art-objecthood in the network. Right now the internet, with its current lack of regulation by any governing body, is in a unique position as a medium, inasmuch as it can still rightfully be construed as of and for (free) information. (As opposed to television, which has long since been lost to information control and commerce.) But the window may be smaller than it appears. Note Baudrillard: “Because beyond this neutralization of all content, one could still expect to manipulate the medium in its form and to transform the real by using the impact of the medium as form. If all the content is wiped out, there is perhaps still a subversive, revolutionary use value of the medium as such.” (S&S, 82) This is perhaps a new question as it relates to conventional reality, but it is an old trick in the world of fine art. However, the question of content vs. medium, and information vs. meaning, converges in on itself when relocated to the paradigm of the internet. An interesting correlation lies here between Simulacra and Simulation and Kosuth’s Art after Philosophy, in the (admittedly dubious) claim of art as an analytical proposition. Drawing on Marshall McLuhan’s mantra, the medium is the message, we can recognize that art about anything but art makes the issue (in Baudrillard’s words) ‘a cold one’ – much like he describes the Holocaust as existing only hyperreally as a ‘televised event’. Thus, art about the medium of art (exclusively, as opposed to painting, wood, metal, etc.) seems to be the only rational answer to this quandry. However, since Duchamp, artists have been in the difficult position of being ultimately forced to be referential to history (inasmuch as all objects are referential to other objects, at least in their physicality). Performance and fluxus artists sought to destroy this predicament, but their ‘artworks’ still required documentation that existed in the physical world. A formal art of true new media, however, lies in the unique position of being a viable non-referential answer to the questions of art in the current day. The art of the network (forthcoming) defies all previously determined conditions on the formal creation of art, because it exists exclusively in a medium of electrons following circuits through logic gates. This is an untapped medium, and perhaps the only realistic answer for the advancement of ‘art’ towards the Duchampian pure art coefficient.


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