Brand-Name Net Art and Site-Specific

Vamos falar em português!!!!! One of the most disturbing aspects of the series of pipes painted by Magritte is its incredible simplicity. " Ceci n'est pas un pipe ", (this is not a pipe) states the picture. Image ejaculation becomes text canvas.

A treason that today imposes itself vigorously by the conceptual confusion between interface and surface. A basic and essential conflict. Something like not understanding the differences between brand-name identities and sites.

But, brand-name identities and sites are very different... brand-name identities are surfaces only. Sites are interfaces. The value of the sign only when glimpsed thru the HYPERNETWORK, it's fragments reconstructed in a redistributed syntax.

But then brand-name identities are more than just surface, they are corporate subjectivites - intelligenced incorporated. They inscribe a certain set of agendas upon the body the penetrate the surface, therefore passing through the porous menbrane of the surface to that of the identity of the individual. The individual is then coopted though a voluntary form of 'branding' (as was often done with antebellum slaves in US history), which is worn and taken off at will. The individual is no longer an individual when wearing a brand, the person becomes the property of that company for a given period of time. And that individual PAYS for it.

By becoming-branded, the individual becomes enslaved.

Some individuals like this. They long to lose their individuality, to become a kind of slave to consumer consciousness. This is how they deal with the corporate subjectivity they have adopted as their own.

Living, in this sense, becomes shopping. This is not a pipe, this is a consumer buying into the cancer of life as art.

Brand-name identities are objects that occupy a place in the space. Sites are "net specific". There is not a there in there. This is not a cultural placebo.

Obvious? Not so much. The artificial realities associated with the bureaucratization of distributed consciousnesses into hygienic consumers slap-happy with the thought of sucking up the next New Thing, demonstrates how behavior is now triggered by designers being supprted by the corporate artbiz (a kind of erudite upgrade in the world of the showbiz in the new economy times: art+education+entertaniment = info economy *on steroids*).

The NetArt sector of 25th Biennial of São Paulo is a good stage and a point of departure for this debate, since it evidences that confusion which Magritte's pipes signify, in spite of all the efforts of the curator of that sector, Christine Mellow.

Ceci n'est pas un nike was created for that exhibition. More than created especially for this edition of the SP Biennial, it was inspired by it and molded according to the needs of adaptation to the institution rules and concepts about the Web and particularly to that we define as webart (art conceived to be experienced on line).

But what is webart?

No one can say for sure, but this script is one indication of its potential. Maybe we should call it "a network apparatus with oneiric predispositions."

Given the crossings that all of those rules and concepts have with corporative demands, marketing strategies and the increasing fasc/fash-ism and its machine of relentless hype, the debate suggests some unfoldings.

The dicussion seems to be necessary because its most important issues are related not only to the SP Biennial, but to the ways of incorporation of web art to the circuits of the cultural market and its institutions.

For example, how to buy web art? And once this is figured out, what web art to buy? Only work by the brand-name web artists? All of a sudden,net art becomes like the God of Junk -Nike - and the once pristine artists are nothing but image with the words "Just blew it" burning in the background.

Counting on the theoretical fragility of its creators and the weakness of a critical thought, that in most cases, stresses the e-business values, that process consolidates the surface (the screen) and the machine (the computer) roles and canonizes the visual language of the dotcom webdesign. This is most clear in the banalized form of most Flash sites and the homemogeinity of usability laws associated with upgrades and plug-ins. But it also infects all languages whether html, c++, wap, Java, or the private lingo you whisper to your lover as you imagine ways of surviving in the latest of late global capitalism.

A lack of conceptual and ideological debate about those issues points towards a very old and traditional art world of the art for the art, pardoxically in the scope where it becomes more corrosively hybrid: the digital media context.

Ceci n'est pas un nike challenges the passive way of seeing that identify the computer screen monitor as the space of artistic intervention. Or does it?

Because of this I used superposed layers, in detriment of frames (juxtaposed and sequential), programs for warping images that are Java applets and not photographic softwares, that allows interferences in the icon of the design through incursions in its informative code (the coordinates and points that compose the digital picture) and not in the screen properly said.

Finally, the option for this technology of production of the text (Wiki) was made because it seems to be able to embody a true electronic palimpsest, where the reflections of this project can be revalidated and complemented by other creators.

(Just click in Edit (above) and Save. Your comments will be automatically published and incorporated to this matrix.)

At the same time it will generated a version of the previous content (see History) and another one with all the marks of its changes.

Since the beginning, as it was already said, Ceci n'est pas un nike was inspired by the working conditions postulated by the host institution (the SP Biennial) and those conditons became the anchors of the dialogue on the conflict between interface and surface, suggested by Magritte's pipes.

In short, those working conditions had been motivated by attitudes and institucional positions, that seem to try to:

  • Occult the denationalized nature of the art created for Web
  • , configuring two fields: a Brazilian one and another " International ", with two independent curators. In spite of their merits, I would make mine Christiane Paul words.

    She said in an interview for Trópico magazine:

    "I think everyone working on the Web is creating for a global audience. There are projects out there that are "national" in their focus, but in terms of content, not distribution. When artists create this type of work, they know that it will be available to the rest of the world once it has been uploaded. And if artists are dealing with conditions in one particular country or society, they know that the statement they are making is going to be presented in a global context. That's why we have the term "netizens" -- people on the net subscribe to its superstructure and don't necessarily define themselves in terms of nationalities as such."

  • Demonstrate its complete misundertanding of the non-objetual configuration of on line art

  • , warning, by e-mail, that, "is not authorized for the exhibition another form of use of the physical space, beyond the computers. In other words, all works must inside be solved inside the Internet."

    If, in fact, they knew that those web art pieces would be "located" in a non-place _ they are not in the computers of the the web art sector__ they NEVER would say that the web sites are expected to be confined " inside " of the Internet and " in those " computers that are available in the beautiful building of the SP Biennial.

  • Ignore the differences between web and video
  • Those diffrences could be summarized by a short statement: the first one operates by dispersion and the second one by circumscription. For the web, the interface is the network and its anarchical structure. For the video, the interface is the screen where the picture is given to the observer.

    Not by chance, the official website produced for the event hides the URLs of the artists' sites, suppressing the navigation bars and showing the content in full screens.

    Some projects in fact demand this format, but others are created dealing with the browser tools. To hide or not to hide the browser is, in this sense, a decision that should be made by each creator.

    However, from an institucional point of view, it gives the idea, to the visitor that he is facing an unit, a conventional exhibition closed in a limited space framed by the screen, in a window with no exit.

    By doing so, it imposes a model of controlable Internet and web art organized in a way so that the publishing order can not be subverted by the free options the user has when he browses the Web. Expansive functionality is endangered and this is the main question: to browse or not to browse?

    It is possible to everybody to leave the Biennial website and to go anytime to other sites, without opening another browser. However, all the exits of this cosmetic surface lead only to one place: the channels of the sponsor (in this case, Terra Lycos Network, of the Telefonica group).

    To move freely is necessary, therefore, to close the Biennial official web site. In synthesis, for experts this is always boring, for naive users, a dirty trick, that makes believable that is possible to consider on line art conceived as objects neutralized by the window frame.

    Those staments are presented here to incorporate other points of view that can, at least, to circumscribe some parameters for the relation of web art with the institutions and its never ending demand for " physical presence " of the websites in the exhibition places.

    This is not one nike. This is a Wiki. This is not a flying saucer.

    This is not inside your computer, nor on this screen that you see, but is is accessible by the web and this makes all the difference. The technology goes unnoticed, staring at you in intersign logokons which lead nowhere/everywhere in siberspacio. Feel free to correct my poor English, I am stumbling on my own incomprehension.

    All the commentaries, addends and remarks are, therefore, welcome. Delete, insert, cut and paste. Just love it .

    This is not the verb 'to be', this is this is.

    Version 37 by at November 28, 2006