Cream 5
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                             cream 5


Chill. Have some ice-cream. This episode of cream is ultra short and
ultra cool due to steaming computers and melting editors in the first
european heatwave of the year 2001. Let you boiling mind relax in the
midst of the heat, the hype and turmoil of new media art. We focus on
overlap this time, cross overs between artists, curators and critics.
Saul Albert points at the characteristic and sometimes painful
barrenness of net art in terms of critical context. His comparison
between net art (in general) and art school degree shows is at the same
time demystifying and food for thought. Frederic Madre wrote a provoking

piece in which he reveals he looks for a much more radical net art
criticism, one which does not care about job perspectives and ratings.
Let's come down from the market floor of new media and get to work.


      artists, curators and critics

Saul Albert  -  Net art graduates
Frederic Madre - Rock


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 graduates

In art-prestige stakes, Art school degree shows are the lowest of the
low. Quality is irrelevant, few curators see the work and it never gets
reviewed. The economies of the degree show are simply unable to support
curatorial and critical interest. The kudos and money invested in the
show are distributed too thinly between too many art students to offer
any worthwhile percentage to the secondary and tertiary art-world
industries of curators and critics. In most cases tutors and networks of
contemporaries provide support,
feedback and a context for art student work.

It was surprising to find several excellent pieces of electronic art at
Central St. Martin's degree show. Charles Lim's Quake mission in the
Tate Modern and hyper-real-3d light installation and Shiho Fukuhara's
lowtech magic mirror stood out from the crowd. These were as
professional as any electronic art installations that come to mind.
This, however, is not saying much. The impression could well be due to
the fact that the experience of electronic art and particularly net art
often parallels that of the student show. The queasy feeling of being
swamped in disparate artistic environments without the comfort of being
asked to slot the artist or artwork into a convenient historical
narrative; artwork is exciting, unfinished, sometimes failed and often
baffling to a visitor with no connection to the development process of
the artist, unable to reach halfway towards the work to grasp it. As
successful net art hubs have shown (rhizome, nettime, syndicate) the
support of engaged, critically active fora is vital to the understanding
and development of networked and electronic art.

When an ambitious student leaves college and embarks on a mainstream art
career, the fickle and divisive market of fame speculation replaces
their formative support network. Critique and curatorial interest come
at a price, both financially and conceptually. The payoff is that the
art is cleaned and polished before being sold.

The question for net art is whether it's graduation into the mainstream
(an awkward, pompous and uncomfortable ceremony so far) will interfere
with the supportive and engaged critical and curatorial relationships it
has enjoyed in its (relative) obscurity.

Shiho Fukuhara's and Charles Lim's work can be seen on the 5th and 7th
floor at Central St. Martin's Degree Show until 5th July 2001. 114-119
Charing Cross Road, London WC1.


Frederic Madre is a writer, bad boy and occasional organiser/curator
from Paris. He is best known for coining the term 'spam art' and
pretending it could become a genre. He is also notorious for not being
subscribed to the nettime mailinglist.

The last time anyone thought being a critic could be cool was probably
during a brief space of rock writing circa 72; it stopped dead less than
ten years after that. Being a “Rock Critic” was so undeniably cool
because those critics that zoomed past mere descriptive illustration of
promo material or chuckled at void flashy newsbits, those critics that
enflamed unknown material with their own itchy obsessions or ridiculed
established stars for their faded poses, those that knew what Rock meant
when it rolled deep into the veins, those Cool Rock Critics could simply
thrust the reader in a new world of relentless desire while maintaining
a steady hand on their steering vision of the Rock chaos as it should
be: cars and girls, dope, parents, cops, glitter, spunk and attitude;
all this within stinging paragraphs of cleverly misplaced anecdotes or a
seditious choice of adjectives. Sharp, direct, quick and opinionated.
It’s obvious that the actual music was always less important than the
words about the music, words cannot convey art but will tell about the
people and their twists and turns that make them into Rock, it was
always more about the clothes and style, and the confrontation with the
rest of (always misunderstanding) society, always about the politics of
rebellion. It was cool to be Lester Bangs and ultimately die of the
exhaustion of having written all the unlived sins. It was uncool to be
the boring academic Greil Marcus, always a cynical outsider thriving for
his (now obtained) official medal, always unable to get beyond his own
writing and jump into the slimy pond of the matter itself, ultimately
afraid to be part of this brave new world or confront it.

I hate Greil Marcus. I want to see critics jump into the hypertextual
pond right now. I want to know about who fucks who on the net art scene.
I want to see short reviews that give a sharp A to asco-o and a kickass
C- to Mouchette. I want to know which side you’re on and what’s
happening. Right now, right there. Forget about next week, forget about
next year’s arse prix, forget about resumes and openings. There’s tons
of stuff popping up all the time. It needs focus, it needs attention, it
needs reaction and nurturing, the bullshit has to go, too. Go for it and
html the playlist of your favorite net sites everyday. Put it up, plug
it, erase and fast forward to tomorrow's hit list. Go for it cause we
need new cool net art critics right now, but just don’t forget: the
artists are not your friends.



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, Sarah Thompson and more to come.


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