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                                                 cream  1

              [Collaborative Research into Electronic Art Memes]


Dip into cream. cream is an experimental collaboration of writers and
curators in the field of net art. cream will come to you as a bi-weekly
newsletter devoted to theory and criticism concerning art in network
culture. All texts and reviews are kept as short as possible, they are
not introductions to larger texts elsewhere on the net. The idea behind
it is to provide a continuous injection of critical thought into the net
art field, to provoke a more prominent critical and theoretical
discourse around art in net culture and to do this in a way that asks
for discussion rather then that it obstructs a flow of discourse. You
can subscribe to cream, yet the first half year of its appearance cream
will also go to the a few mailing lists: nettime, Rhizome, Syndicate. We
invite you to forward this mail to anybody you feel might be interested
in the content of cream who is not on any of those lists.

cream hopes to be one bridge over the gap between electronic art scene
and traditional art world, between experimental net cultures and
institutional efforts on line.

The cream team will grow as the 'magazine' develops, but the first group
of writers that supports cream consist of, in alphabetical order: Saul
Albert, Inke Arns, Tilman Baumgaertel, Josephine Bosma, Sarah Cook,
Florian Cramer, Steve Dietz, Frederic Madre, Tetsuo Kogawa, Toshia Ueno.

::::::::: In this first issue ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

review: Saul Albert on Jon Thomson and Allison Craighead in Tate Britain
theory: Florian Cramer on Program Code Poetry
thought: Frederic Madre on definitions
thought: Josephine Bosma on the link


Saul Albert was the first to publish an in-depth article about the work
of Jodi in 1998. He lives and works in London, and has published texts
in the Swiss magazine DU and in the British magazine for electronic
culture Mute.

         -   "no material presence"   -

On entering the tiny "Art Now" space, packed away behind the modernist
sculptures at the back of the Tate Britain, it looks as though one of
those sculptures has been accidentally included in the current show:
"Art and Money On line". A smooth white cylinder, rising out of the floor
like a modernist obelisk turns out to contain a touch screen monitor,
linked to a video projector displaying "CNN Interactive just got more
interactive", a web artwork by Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead (T&C).
  The viewer is invited to use the (real) CNN site which is seamlessly
framed by T&C's additional menu of tacky midi soundtracks, ("Upbeat",
"Festive", "Melancholy", "Disaster".) which are provided to match the
changing moods of the endless stream of news. The intervention in the
austere, corporate CNN interface spills over into a physical
intervention, sending strains of nauseating synthesized muzak out of the
Art Now enclave and into the proper, serious Tate Gallery.
In the leaflet that accompanies the exhibition the curator Julian
Stallabrass repeatedly refers to T&C's piece as a work that "only exists
on line" and "has no material presence". How strange that he didn't
notice the Brancusi-like obelisk/kiosk, the flashy touch screen monitor
and the insane muzak intervention in a show that he is meant to have
curated. Other works in the show are safely sanitized, (either
comfortably fetishized as art objects or presenting an inscrutable
veneer of slick technology and self reference). Obviously Stallabrass is
interested in the fashionable idea of art parodying corporate culture
and infotainment. However, he may have missed the fact that T&C were
also throwing a parodic frame around the Tate's efforts (through this
show) to assimilate net art into stagnant aesthetic/historical

After seeing T&C's installation, you can't help but notice the
"Sponsored by Reuters" sign on the way through the modernist sculpture
room, and just before you reach the exit, as the muzak fades, a bay of
slick, corporate style kiosks, displaying the Tate website.

CNN Interactive just got more interactive
( by Thomson and Craighead.


Florian Cramer is a lecturer in Comparative Literature at Freie
Universit=E4t Berlin. He is also the programmer of the web site
 and Free Software activist.

          -  Program Code Poetry  -

The history of computer programming is rich with self reflexive language
games, games which either code self reflexivity into algorithmic machine
instructions or algorithmic instructions into everyday language. Perhaps
the most basic example of the former are "Quines", program source code
which, as a software equivalent of von Neumann's self reproducing
automata, generates an exact copy of itself (see
) while recursive
acronyms like "GNU" for "GNU's Not Unix" (which iterates infinitely when
dissected into its component words) may be the most prominent
example of the latter.
 From the opposite angle, there is a longer history of artists and poets
using computer instruction and protocol code as material. In its 1962
manifesto, the French Oulipo group around the poet Raymond Queneau and
the mathematician Francois le Lionnais proposed to use computers for
poetic games, process text with Markov chains (just as a number of more
contemporary digital arts works like Charles O. Hartman's and Hugh
Kenner's "Virtual Muse" poems, Ray Kurzweil's "Cybernetic Poetic" and
Cornelia Sollfrank's " generators") and write poetry in the Algol
programming language. In the early 1970s, Le Lionnais and No=EBl Arnaud
published poetry written in Algol code which, just as the early Perl
Poetry of Larry Wall and Sharon Hopkins from 1990. Even where their code
did not properly compile and run on computers, it took artistic
advantage of the fact that any digital code is potentially
machine executable and at least twice readable as source code and
In comparison to digital art forms whose output is not code, Algol and
Perl poems even have the potential to contaminate and short-circuit both
instances of digital data.
While no other form of net art and net poetry is structurally as closely
linked to computing as programming code poetry, more recent net art and
net poetry takes an aesthetic step beyond the former in modeling its
language after programming and protocol code without strictly
reproducing its logic. The code poetry of, among others, mez, Alan
Sondheim and Ted Warnell seems to build on two developments a) the
re-coding of traditional pictorial ASCII art into amimetical noise
signals by net artists like Jodi, antiorp, mi-ga and Frederic Madre, (b)
the mass proliferation of programming language syntax through web and
multimedia scripting languages and search engines. For the reader of
mez's "netwurks", it remains all the more an open question whether the
"mezangelle" para-code of parentheses and wildcard characters only
mimics programming languages or is, at least partially, the product of
programmed text filtering.

In my view, code poetry reveals that digital poetry has been
misperceived in the last ten years, with too much attention for
interfaces - "hypertext" itself is nothing more than such an interface -
and too little attention for structures coded into its very language.


Frederic Madre is an organizer and writer. He lives and works in Paris.
He is best known for his mailinglist (in 2000) Pleine Peau and his spam
art projects. Frederic Madre also organized a conference in Paris on net
art in 1999.

          -  let=92s drop definitions  -

Let's drop the word art. Where do you want to go today ? I wish I did
not know, I wish we could all be taken to places we have no idea of and
find out by simply doing it, by catching the flow. Partly driven by what
is there and partly driven by the whim of the moment and the lust of
simple wander. The exact nature of what we find in this way has little
relevance compared to the unreasoned nature of the unfathomable context
of the link. Look, I was giving you a perverted kiss and all you found
was a fix. Look, you have been transported somewhere you did not know
existed and the transportation itself has made this what it is. How do
you want to call this ? Let's drop the word art and think of what is
there and where you came from and where you=92re going next. Are we having
fun yet ? let=92s drop definitions and see what=92s there to take and make
our own. It=92s not even worth anymore stating that we are not artists,
there=92s a whole bunch of artists out there that make a living of just
that. Let=92s drop them and follow the link, find out what=92s there and
then scram somewhere else and now do our own connected stuff.


Josephine Bosma is a journalist and writer in the field of art and new
media. She lives and works in Amsterdam. Her most recent publications
were an introduction to net art in the dutch art magazine Metropolis M,
and a text about the internet and music for the SFMoma project

              -  The Link  -

In the beginning there was darkness. Black screens with green, almost
fluorescent letters faced the early netizen. Yet behind the darkness
existed a world connected by words. Networking was still a clearly human
to machine and then another machine to another human experience.
Individuals behind personal computers filled cyberspace and made it a
different reality. And then, made out of unspeakable words, made out of
code, there was light. The worldwide web was born.
Networking almost immediately changed shape. Communication simplified. A
picture could paint a thousand words, and it did. It replaced a thousand
words. Communication became more complex, too. Hidden code now creates a
layered representation of the initial message. It has become an art in
itself, a craftsmanship, to convey your message well. The message, and
communication itself, is a dispersed and multi interpretable experience
on the worldwide web. News groups, Muds and Moos, and now also mailing
lists slowly become dry and empty spaces, wastelands.  And man is
getting lost.
We thank all this to the link. Not the visuals of the web are the most
important, or the way a picture starts to move.. : there is no life, no
seduction to enter the net without the link. It has been highly praised.
It is a wonderful tool to create large rings of friendly web sites,
playful labyrinths of thoughts and views. It allows for experiments:
hyper narrative is still a buzz word. But in the end, does communication
really profit from it being dominated by the link?
In art the link has brought isolation as well as connections. The link
is active and passive at the same time. It sits and waits for a click,
it waits on the artists site, on the other side, the other site, it
waits. The link has to be visible and approachable to communicate its
part of the message. Communication has been replaced by connectivity. An
artist is only as visible as her or his link. The moment the audience
looses contact with the cultures and works created by artists network
art becomes confined to special spaces and events, where it is lifted
from obscurity and presented to be explored. Visibility of art creates
knowledge of art.  Knowledge of art creates awareness of culture.
Awareness creates the possibility for communication.

end of cream *1*=20

cream would not be possible without the work and hospitality of the
House of Laudanum, . Special thanks (shout!) to
mr.snow who put it all together!