Summer and Fall 2015

I have explored the way art and the Internet meet for more than twenty years and am still fascinated. The art field is transforming in ways many could not foresee. My work focuses on many aspects of this transformation: from the rise of online art communities to the way these communities affect art, culture and society beyond media technologies alone.



         From Google Images series by Artyom Kocharyan, graduate Piet Zwart Media Design 2015


It is graduation time at the moment I am writing this, and it is great to see that despite the crisis and funding cuts so many young people still have the guts to become artists. I have seen a few very promising ones over the past days! Next up is the summer break. You will (if all goes well) find me at the Chaos Community Camp, a hacker camp in the countryside near Berlin, in August. As always there will be workshops, talks and meeting old and new friends. Right after that, on Sunday August 23rd, I will be moderating artist talks at the SMBA exhibition Algorithmic Rubbish: Daring to Defy Misfortune. I will be talking with Constant Dullaart, Femke Herregraven and artist collective Template. In the meantime I have been asked to be on the jury of the Prix Net Art 2015, a generous art award initiated by the New York based art initiative Rhizome, Chronus Art Center and Tsinghua Art and Science Media Laboratory. You can nominate artists for this prize until August 17th! The winner will be announced in November.

Spring 2015



                      Image created through Artomat, an online art generator by Electroboutique

The coming months are filled with writing and a few appearances in panels and talks. I am working on an essay for the German magazine Kunstforum for their Post-Digital theme. For that same magazine I am preparing an interview with Jonas Lund. On May 22nd and 23rd you can find me in MAMA in Rotterdam for a two day event around art and the Internet. I will be in a panel discussing what Post-Internet art and its potential for addressing the merging of digital and analog culture with Florian Cramer and Geert Lovink the first day. The discussion will be moderated by Michelle Kasprzak, curator at V2. That same afternoon I will moderate a discussion between Jonas Lund, Rafaël Rozendaal and Joel Holmberg. A week later, May 29th, I will conduct an onstage interview with Electroboutique at the Twente Biennale.

Excerpt Nettitudes: Context and Cultural Identity: Brian Mackern


I often get requests for digital versions of my book. Unfortunately I cannot put the entire book online, but I can publish excerpts. Here is an part of chapter two, which is called Levels, Spheres and Patterns. In this chapter I discuss the many 'layers' at which the Internet is used in art. The following excerpt deals with the conceptual layer, which I call context. I discuss a book by Urugayan artist Brain Mackern, who decided to close off a crumbling archival project of Latin American net art by documenting it in book form: The netart_latino database.


The Future is Unknown – I am the Future

January, 2015

In January 2013 I was a writer in residence at Quartier21 in Vienna, in the preparation for the Faceless exhibition, curated by Bogomir Doringer, that would be shown there later in the year. Faceless focusses on the trend of hiding the face in art and fashion. This short essay was written for the catalog, which is yet to appear. The text reflects on how identity is shaped through a historical reflection of the self in a social context, as experienced through tools and media. The work of four artists (or artist groups) serves as illustrations.


Life in Cultural Smog – On the Value of Junk, Leaks, Spills, and Noise

Spring 2014 I was invited to talk on a panel organized in Hito Steyerl's exhibition at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven. Theme of the panel was 'circulationism', a term Steyerl uses for the online distribution of images. I was asked to speak about alternative networks, or rather, about the possibility for the creation of alternative networks after the revelations made by Snowden showed the Internet is heavily surveilled by the NSA. In my talk I try to show alternative networks already exist, and will be very hard to erase or control completely by authorities.


“The location of power - and the site of resistance - rest in an ambiguous zone without borders.” Critical Art Ensemble, The Electronic Disturbance,1994.

Will Work for Food - A studio visit to Karl Heinz Jeron

In the summer of 2008 I went to Berlin, where I visited the studio of artist Karl Heinz Jeron. From 1996 until 2003 Jeron had collaborated with Joachim Blank as Blank & Jeron. On their website Blank & Jeron presented early web projects such as Dump Your Trash from 1998, which invited the audience to submit web site addresses into an online form. The submitted website would be 'recycled' as if carved into a slab of stone. There was the option to actually order the website carved in stone. The influential text Introduction to Net.Art by Alexei Shulgin was immortalized this way. After having been among the main initiators of the Berlin digital city project Digitale Stadt Blank and Jeron separated ways on friendly terms. Blank now makes more sculptural works, while Jeron has, next to or overlapping with his online projects, moved into 'relational', performance, and conceptual art. This is a photo of one of his drawing robots in action. The robots are part of a work called 'Will Work for Food'. In this work the audience could request to be sent one of the drawing robots, and in return the audience would have to send the artist food in return. The robots played music while they worked. They could be made to sing either Happy Birthday or The Internationale.

Florian Cramer surprised by the Piet Zwart class of 2008

 The class of 2008 students of the media design course of the Piet Zwart Institute decided to thank course director Florian Cramer in a special way. They made a giant portait of his face from the back covers of the black and white books. Cramer was overwhelmed. In the background one of his students, Gordan Savicic, applauds. Other graduates that year were Danja Vasiliev, Linda Hilfling, Ricardo Lafuente, Annemieke van der Hoek, Ivan Monroy Lopez, Maria Karagianni, and Michael van Schaik.

Zine Fiends: Zinecamp at WORM May 2014

In the weekend of May 24-25 2014 a gathering of zine makers and zine lovers happened at WORM, the 'institute for avantgarde recreation' in Rotterdam. I dropped in to make a simple photo report.


                      Overview of the Zinecamp space.

OMD: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark bij Arti et Amicitiae in Amsterdam

Hij werkt beter des avonds dan overdag, de expositie Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) in Arti et Amicitiea te Amsterdam. Het overdadige daglicht in de grote zaal verdringt alle duisternis, waardoor de meer donkere tonen van de expositie aan kracht inboeten. Toch blijft deze vierde expositie van curator, kunstenaar, DJ, en flamboyante persoonlijkheid Martin C. de Waal overeind. De expositie brengt een ode aan eigenzinnigheid en individualiteit in deze tijd van crisis waarin nationalisme en conservatisme soms welig lijken te tieren.



Post-Digital is Post-Screen - Towards a New Visual Art

October, 2013

This essay was written for the Post-Digital research conference in the Kunsthal Aarhus, which was a collaboration between Aarhus University and the Transmediale festival in Berlin.



Beyond - escaping network nihilism in media art criticism

May, 2002

In 2002 I was invited to speak at the Reality Check for Cyber Utopias conference in Zagreb, organized by MAMA, the Croatian media lab. I decided to talk about the way art is approached in many media art contexts, something I elaborate on almost ten years later in my book Nettitudes. I make a plea for a different view of both net art and media art, and defend the legitimacy of all contemporary art practices that involve the Internet.

Outdoor installation at the Technorganic festival organized by Cary Peppermint and Leila Christine Nadir in 2005.

Caricatures of Knowbotic Research: jodi

October, 2002


In 2002 the Dutch Belgian artist duo Jodi (Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans) had their first big solo exhibition at Plug-In gallery in Basel. In preparation of the text I met up with the artists, and it became clear they wanted me to write a light text. They came up with the title themselves: Caricatures of Knowbotic Research. Knowbotic Research is a German-Swiss electronic art group, known for their extensive collabortions with media art labs and technologically complex works.  


Catalogue cover of install.exe, ed. Tilman Baumgärtel 

The space of net art

October, 2001


In 2001 I was asked to give a talk at NCC48, a rather curious 48 hour nonstop congress in a cave in Graz, Austria. I decided to present my very own thoughts on net art, after I felt many words had been put in my mouth by others. The hype and noise around net art had produced an almost impossible climate to discuss this new art context seriously. Needless to say my words hardly impressed anyone. Today it turns out I was right: more 'users' creates more mainstream art behavior; artists have started to explore the broader virtual field of the network (which is translated in 'new' theories from post-Internet to New Aesthetic);  and art institutions are very, very slowly exploring their new expanded field of influence. For your information: the open letter by Jon Ippolito I am referring to here criticized the possibility for art institutions to be able to get a .museum domain (instead of a .org or .com suffix), posted on the nettime mailing list in December 2000.

Today I would have to add some words to the last paragraph though, to be clear. I am NOT saying the Internet is a conceptual space, but I am saying that to think about art and the internet it is necessary to let go of simplistic and outdated notions of the Internet as a purely technological, singular medium. Quote: "So the 'web of possibilities', which is in the expanded virtual space of the combination of technology and humans is the true basis of net art. One could say the ability to see beyond the purely technical environment produces a new kind of abstraction in art."

Picture of the entrance to Dom im Berg, the cave in which the NCC48 congress was held

The Best of 386DX

October, 2001

This review of Alexei Shulgin's music and data CD was originally written for Rhizome in 2001. For those unfamiliar with the 'band' or the name, a 386DX is an old type computerchip, the Intel 80386 developed in 1985.

The Interior of Net Art

January, 2002


The question of how to exhibit net art came up strongly in 1997. It became clear that some works were actually interesting for a traditional, offline art audience. In the beginning it seemed that exhibiting net art in a physical space was an anomaly, something contradictive to the nature and background of the attitude from which net art sprung. The online communities a lot of net art came out of refused to think of solutions for physical exhibitions, like they also found it very difficult (with some exceptions) to find a way to deal with question how to sell a net art work.


When I was approached by one of the net communities' most notorious members Frederic Madre to write a text for a tongue in cheeck woman's magazine I decided therefore to write a piece that was half satire half serious about how to deal with net art. In some sense one could say the text is metaphorical. By ridiculing the style of the average woman's magazine I compare the desire to own any art work (and also to exhibit it) to certain bourgois tendencies to use art in a semi-decorative way. We could ask ourselves whether our desire to own and present an art piece is ultimately more then a wish to exhibit our own cultural awareness in a fashionable way, like the American artist Cary Peppermint jokes in this text. The intangibility of most new media art and the impossibility to set limits to certain works force us having to face what exactly it is we want from art. Many do want something of art that seems missing: something to surround oneself with. Let's dive into the interior design of net art.


Interview with Cary Peppermint

April, 2001


This short interview is part of a small set of interviews I did for a semi-ironic text about net art in the home called 'The Interior of Net Art,' which is also on this site. The goal of the interview is to find out how artists working with the Internet think their work could be exhibited in physical space, and also whether they think it could be sold. These questions have been hovering around net art from the mid-nineties. The artists and art examples in 'The Interior of Net Art' show a great variety of apporaches and opinions.

The grammar and spelling errors in this interview are not accidental, but part of Peppermint's writing style at the time.



Short interview with Peter Luining

May, 2000

Peter Luining lives and works in Amsterdam. His net art is rather 'stylish', in the sense that compared to most net art it does not that clearly reflect on net culture and information. His work is more easthetic. A few years ago [1998] he was called 'the next generation Superbad', because of his particular use of imagery in combination with sound. Peter Luining was asked to curate an exhibition for a Dutch gallery called Planet Art, on the alternative artfair Kunstvlaai. He has gathered an interesting collection there. This interview concentrates mostly on his own work though.

Identiteit en Kunst in Computernetwerken

April, 2012


Lezing gegeven in Januari 2000 in SubK te Utrecht, ter gelegenheid van een avond over 'digipersonae'. 


De kunstenaar achter antiorp, Gheorghe Dan. 


Interview with Mez

May, 2000


Mary-Anne Breeze, better known as Mez, lives and works in Australia. She first got into a larger picture in 1997, via the mailinglist 7-11. Her work is highly 'textual', but expands to for instance sound as well. Considering the relationship between concrete poetry and music or sound this probably should come as no surprise. She likes to change her name a lot (mz post modemism, mezchine, ms, flesque, e-mauler, and mezflesque.exe), and maybe because of this, plus the nature of her work, she has a less clearly demarcated position then some other net.artists. This relative 'instability', compared to some highly compact web artworks, is one of the attractive sides of her work for me.

The Greater Cloud

[test] The exhibition The Greater Cloud at the NIMk (Nederlands Instituut voor Mediakunst) in Amsterdam is compiled by five different curators.

Interview with Ron Kuivila

March, 2000


[Kuivila in 1991, courtesy]

Sound artist Ron Kuivila was in a panel at V2 during the Rotterdam Film Festival in 2000, the other speakers being David Blair (Wax Web) and Martin Berghammer (specialist in games). He had the idea to have a net arts notation festival, and would very much like to see it realised. Somehow in the edit he himself made of the interview (I let people do it together with me usually) an interesting aspect of this was lost, namely that it would be very good to also look at which notations would/do -not- get realised and why. Notation/realisation has a long history in performance and music, and a slightly younger one in the visual arts.


Interview with Frederic Madre

November, 2000

Meeting Frederic Madre was a pleasant surprise. Madre had made himself notorious in a very short time by inventing something called a 'spam engine', to create spam art. These days spam (unsolicited advertising in emails) is annoying. In the nineties, when spam was much less pervasive, it was considered not only rude, but also damaging to the Internet. It takes up massive amounts of bandwidth, disrupting the flow of Internet traffic and increasing costs for providers and users.The controversy around spam was easily abused however, by people who wanted to eradicate voices and expression they did not approve of on online platforms. On the mailing list nettime for example it was used in a disagreement between artists and activist and academic users, about what could and could not be posted.

In the interview Madre explains how he uses spam art as a means to criticize the urge to oversanitize the Internet. Frederic Madre's spam engine and mailing list Palais Tokyo (for which it was most used) are some of the most interesting projects in French net art. Yet Madre also talks about his first years online, between 1992 and 1995, and his stories give another interesting view of how early net culture developed. Today Frederic Madre runs an indie record company, 'Bruit Direct'.  The photo below shows Madre with his youngest son.


Interview with RTMark

September, 1997

RTMark was the forerunner of the Yesmen. We met at Ars Electronica in 1997. Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno presented themselves as Ernesto Lucha and Francisco Gerrero, otherwise known as 'Frank and Ernest'. Their main focus was fighting the incredible power of corporations, which have the same rights as citizens in the United States. By removing the unfair protection this gives to corporations RTMark hoped to force them to act more responsibly.


Interview with Steve Dietz

July, 2000

At the time of this interview Steve Dietz was director of new media initiatives at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Since then Dietz has curated several exhibitions, lectured around the world, and he is currenty artistic director of ZeroOne, an art festival in San Jose California. 'The Walker', as the Walker Art Center is often called in short, was unique for its depth of commitment to multidisciplinary (not interdisciplinary) programming for a large part thanks to Dietz' creative adaptation of his job title of head of new media.

Interview with Station Rose

March, 1999

"...the netscene wants to stay ascii..."

Station Rose are Elisa Rose and Gary Danner. They are what could be called a multimedia group, mainly doing live performance online and offline. They have been doing this since 1989. In 1999 it was time to ask them a little bit about their motives and ideas after 10 years of engagement in network culture. .


Interview with Kathy Rae Huffman

September, 1998

I met Kathy Rae Huffman for the first time at the Digital Chaos conference in Bath in 1996. This interview is from about two years later, and it was published on nettime and in 'Netzkunst' edited by Verena Kuni in 1998. It is a very interesting interview in that it covers a very long period of time, from the early work Kathy Rae Huffman did as a curator with Bill Viola, to her work with Van Gogh TV at documenta 92, to her online art project Siberian Deal (with Eva Wohlgemut), and her work with the mailinglist for women in new media 'Faces'.

foto: Jan Sprij for V2

Nettitudes - Let's Talk Net Art

April, 2011

After having my work published in various catalogues and essay collections, this is the first book under my own name. It was written for the Institute for Network Cultures in Amsterdam, and published by NAi publishers. The latter is the main publisher on new media art in the Netherlands.The Mondriaan Foundation and the BKVB both supported us making this book.


Nettitudes contains five essays about art and new media, and consists of two parts. The first focusses on 'net art' in the broadest sense of the word, and aims to refute persisting false definitions of this emerging art field. In the second part of the book net art is approached from three very different angles: the history of (with dot), a contemplation on the digital archive, and last but not least a text on music and sound art in the context of new media.



Nettitudes can be ordered through NAi Publishers


Interview with Jeffrey Shaw

February, 2000

In this interview Jeffrey Shaw talks, among other things, about the browser he built for the exhibition Net_Condition in 1999.

Musaic, the merging of all sound spaces

June, 2000

Musaic was originally written for the music and new media festival Futuresonic. There it was noticed by Kathleen Forde of the SFMoma who asked whether it could be included in the online sound art exhibition Crossfade, which was a collaboration of three art institutions: ZKM, Walker Art Institute and the SFMoma. Musaic also appeared in Sandbox magazine in New York.

(This image was borrowed from the website, purely for illustration purposes. It shows a screenshot of a software tool "The World of Music, by researchers at Standford, MIT and Yahoo!," which "intends to render the music space in an unprecedented way. This visualization shows 9,276 artists and how they are related to each other.")

Interview with Igor Stromajer

August, 2000



Igor Stromajer is a Slovenian artist. I interviewed him in Moscow in 2000. Stromajer talks about how he moved from making art purely for the Web to doing net art performances at the end of the nineties, whereby he would sing or dance the HTML code his website was built from. Nowadays Stromajer mostly does online performances uses robots. Interestingly also his work with robots still shows great sensitivity and the robots are easily given human or emotional traits as they dance, battle or fight for survival.

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