Cream 3
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                             cream 3


Sweet cream. Take a break from every day life and have a look at it all
from a different angle for a moment. What is going on  with on line
culture? Sometimes it seems to become invisible to the extreme. There is
no more clear surface and it becomes more difficult to stay informed now
net culture is more and more connected to or rooted in off line
structures. Local interests and personal connections slowly replace
public discourses and developments. It becomes increasingly important to
think this through and share our thoughts. Not condemning, but
discussing. Not discarding, but engaging. Let's keep in mind the
strength of the internet is still media access for everybody. Even when
the attention economy and high bandwidth enterprises move large parts of
the internet into a twilight zone the power of the word does not loose
its strength. As the old saying goes: the pen is mightier then the
sword. And one email can be mightier then a thousand flash web pages.

In this cream we have three contributions. Saul Albert compares the
present situation of net art with being a survivor in a land full of
zombies. The Living Dead in this case being the dotcoms after the Nasdaq
crash. Frederic Madre merely pinches us to see if we are still awake.
How different is the .museum domain from the already familiar .com
domain? Josephine Bosma dwells on the edges of net art and seems to have
stumbled on the reason why some curators avoid net art: they don't like
computers. If there is a shared theme to this issue of cream it would
be: context. Enjoy cream 3.


Thought:    Saul Albert  -  Net art of the Living Dead
Pinch:        Frederic Madre  -  one thought, one link: about .museum
Review:     Josephine Bosma  -  computers are ugly


Saul Albert lives and works in London, and has published texts in the
Swiss magazine DU and in the British magazine for electronic culture

             -  Net art of the Living Dead  -

As the next great recession looms and the last few pennies hemorrhage
out of the NASDAQ the Internet is a changed, hostile environment for
business and for net art.

Talking at the CODE conference in Cambridge UK this April, Geert Lovink
blamed the "Shut up and party" attitude of the dotcommers and their
disregard for "business fundamentals" for their downfall. Now the
remaining poverty stricken start-ups sell cheap to established business
or die quietly.

While there has never been any money in net art, the prefix "net" used
to have some tangible benefits. Every glossy art and culture magazine
needed net art stories, e-businesses needed 'visionaries', grants fell
like manna from government budgets and now it's over. Just as the
e-businesses have been fighting for the opportunity to be bought out by
established interests, net art practitioners are forced to huddle closer
to institutional warmth, or just give up and work.

This trend has dealt a double blow to na•ve hopes that net art in itself
offered an easy escape route from traditional art market imperatives and
a powerful potential for subversive cultural action. Not only is net art
becoming sanitized by inclusion in galleries, national collections and
even university course curricula, but also net arts interventions in
dotcom land can seem petty now that their corporate targets are in such
reduced circumstances.

Since early 1999 this situation has led many people to announce the
"death of net art", some people to conclude that net art should no
longer be distinguished from art, and a few people to get excited about
what this change makes possible.

Net art will no longer be fashionable and will no longer attract
fashionable sponsors and hangers-on. Net art can at last be seen as a
tool, useful both formally and contextually, rather than remaining a
specific media centric genre.

Net art criticism will become more interesting as it becomes necessary
to move beyond "is it art" to more useful questions and we start to see
more mixed shows that incorporate net art. As net art mixes company with
and hybridizes other practices it will become less daunting to draw on
the rich resources of traditional art criticism and apply those methods
and histories to looking at net art.

Most importantly, net art can still be "not just art" as Matthew Fuller
has called it. The processes of net art, weaving through disparate
contexts and protocols, homogenizing and juxtaposing information spaces,
maintain the ambiguity of net art's identity allowing it to infiltrate
and enrich many contexts while taking advantage of its critical and
conceptual grounding in art.


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

           - one thought, one link: about .museum -

the internet has become this huge ever buzzing shopping mall and now
somebody just thought "let's add a museum to the shop".

Or was it the other way around ?



Josephine Bosma is a journalist and writer in the field of art and new
media. She lives and works in Amsterdam.

            -  computers are ugly  -

The Berlin Biennial is supposed to be an alternative for the Biennial of
Venice. It wants to show art that did or does not have much of a chance
in this rather traditional art setting. The catalogue of this years
Berlin Biennial, the second so far, says: "Saskia Bos (the curator) has
selected art works and artistic approaches which actively seek contact
with the spectator or address themes with a social or participatory
component. The exhibition therefore integrates such concepts as
engagement with the world and empathy, and casts a critical eye on a
self-possessed art system with all its entanglements and codes." At the
same time however Saskia Bos actively decided to not to include net art
in the exhibitions. A decision that does not seem to make any sense when
reading the theme and motivation behind this Biennial.

When I first heard about the exclusion of net art in Berlin, it was in
the context of a talk I was going to give in a panel about the very
thing: net art. I was told that the panel was organized in order to have
at least some kind of conceptual presence of network art. As I did not
know the reason for not having net art works represented I gave the
organizers the benefit of the doubt and I decided to see the situation
in a positive way. It did not seem a bad thing that a curator did not
rush into putting together yet another haphazardly chosen selection of
net art works, but on the contrary chose to simply not include this art
of which she knows very little. That deserves at least some respect for
a stubbornness and courage that seems to stem from integrity.

However, in the afternoon of the panel I was told there was no net art
in the Berlin Biennial because Saskia Bos did not want to deal with 'a
line of computers' in the exhibition. I was totally surprised. Tilman
Baumgaertel, moderator of the panel, suggested that indeed computers are
ugly and that they tend to dominate a space as much as they dominate the
reception of the art work on the computer itself. Did Saskia Bos know so
little about net art that she did not know for instance that there are
quite some net artists out there whose work is not just represented by a
picture on a computer? There were quite some projections of video's or
art films in the exhibition, so does this then mean Saskia Bos did not
know that when desperate for ways to present network art one could also
turn to this boring strategy? It seems unlikely. Then why did she choose
not to have net art in the Berlin Biennale?

Let me tell you something funny: there was net art in the Berlin
Biennial. Not much, but it was there. Only it was not regarded as such.
The clearest example was probably the chinese artist Xu Tan with
'Shanghai Biennial: awaiting your arrival'. Even without a web site this
work, which according to the catalogue is a 'poster on the internet'
(yet it can't be found there), would be very interesting to analyze for
its political, technical -and- artistic meaning which reach beyond its,
at first glance, simple gesture. The same can be said for the work
'Externet' by the artist Pascal Tayou from Ghana. In this work a heap of
debris, which has no connection to computers or networks at all, is by
means of its title consciously labeled as being 'outside the network'.

It seems that the definition and thus also the understanding of net art
is still a problem. The cyber nostalgia of some net art critics has
maybe lead to a obstructing confusion amongst other art professionals
concerning the  latest developments within the artistic field. The
extension of the presentation space, its overlap with the artist's
studio and the home (which gets the audience more involved in both
presentation and production of art) have asked, maybe even begged for a
network centered observation of the art world in the last decade. The
term net art is only the proof of that: the term net art is not
(something the audience at the Berlin Biennial discussion worried about)
pointing at an art form purely based on computer network technology and
nothing else. The term net art has simply existed to point at a profound
and specific change in artistic practice that needed to be viewed from
outside an art institutional mindset. The question is of course: how
much longer will it need to be used for this purpose? As long as
influential curators and critics presume the present art practices will
pass like a rainy day we will have to keep using it, confusing as it may


cream is an experimental collaboration of writers and curators in the
field of net art. cream will come to you as a (sometimes irregular)
bi-weekly newsletter devoted to theory and criticism concerning art in
network culture. 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.

subscriptions to cream and general contact address:

Contributors to cream: Saul Albert, Inke Arns, Tilman Baumgaertel,
Josephine Bosma, Sarah Cook, Florian Cramer, Steve Dietz, Frederic
Madre, Tetsuo Kogawa
and more to come.


cream would not be possible without the work and hospitality of the
House of Laudanum, .