At a Distance: Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet (Leonardo Book Series)
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Networked collaborations of artists did not begin on the Internet. In this multidisciplinary look at the practice of art that takes place across a distance -- geographical, temporal, or emotional -- theorists and practitioners examine the ways that art, activism, and media fundamentally reconfigured each other in experimental networked projects of the 1970s and 1980s. By providing a context for this work -- showing that it was shaped by varying mixes of social relations, cultural strategies, and political and aesthetic concerns -- At a Distance effectively refutes the widely accepted idea that networked art is technologically determined. Doing so, it provides the historical grounding needed for a more complete understanding of today's practices of Internet art and activism and suggests the possibilities inherent in networked practice.At a Distance traces the history and theory of such experimental art projects as Mail Art, sound and radio art, telematic art, assemblings, and Fluxus. Although the projects differed, a conceptual questioning of the "art object," combined with a political undermining of dominant art institutional practices, animated most distance art. After a section that sets this work in historical and critical perspective, the book presents artists and others involved in this art "re-viewing" their work -- including experiments in "mini-FM," telerobotics, networked psychoanalysis, and interactive book construction. Finally, the book recasts the history of networks from the perspectives of politics, aesthetics, economics, and cross-cultural analysis.
dynamic, real-time interaction for decades before the World Wide Web took off in the 1990s. Artist-and-engineer collaborations had fueled cutting-edge experimental research throughout the 1960s and 1970s, and some of the conceptual thinking in their work led to development of Internet technology, rather than being brought about by it. Labyrinth, an interactive catalog created by Ted Nelson and Ned Woodman for Jack Burnham’s Software exhibition at the Jewish Museum in 1970, is a perfect example of
sometimes created with limited dependence on electronic or other multimedia effects in spite of their programmed manipulations. By the late 1970s, the technological capabilities for realizing dynamic works that synthesized real-time participation from disparate locations would be on the horizon. In 1977, Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz performed a live collaboration between dancers in Maryland and California, merged in a virtual on-screen space.7 By the end of the 1990s, networked,
artists, and denies perhaps the most unique and appealing feature of this universal movement.51 A storm of protest commenced. Lon Spiegelman edited a special issue of Umbrella (March 1984) devoted to the controversy, which had spilled over to a series of contemporaneous panel discussions, sponsored by Artists Talk on Art at the Wooster Gallery in New York. Cohen, who had been previously designated to moderate the panel, was asked by the panelists to relinquish her position for having been
with nothing 6. nothing with nothing28 This piece is thus to be not understood as a series of ﬁxed points, but as a conditionally determined territory, ﬁlled with contradictions and the potential for them. The work proposes a new type of participatory existence: not a delimited, static one that dominates our older concepts of understanding, but one that is network based and shifting as the participatory nodes shift in and out of the network. Thus both the network and Knowles’s work exist, or
image place and live video and our thinking and they introduced us to their dance and so it went. To prepare the dancers, the artists workshopped collaborations that allowed the human dynamics to take control of the space. The approach was process oriented rather than “prescribed,” with the artists using their own illustrations and storyboards as “visual metaphors” to guide and stimulate ideas and interactions. The scored improvisation provided a vehicle through which to allow maximum freedom to