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netz_bedingung / net_condition

Art/politics in the online universe

An exhibition, which as a multi-local networked event takes place simultaneously in Karlsruhe (ZKM), Graz (steirischer herbst), Tokio (ICC Intercommunication Center) und Barcelona (MECAD Media Centre d'Art i Disseny).

A new world is being constructed. The world is going online. Online communication provides new technological prerequisites for globalisation. A new global economy emerges, which is no longer based on products, but on time. The Net enables a shift in economy: we no longer pay for the product, but for use of the product, measured in time units. This gives rise to a shift in the central powers of economic development, away from the primary scene of production to the secondary and tertiary sector of services in the fields of distribution, services, communication and information. Historic terms like labor, information, ownership and authorship are stabilized and accentuated in the online universe by cryptographic codes. From knowledge management to consumption, the cryptographic coding of the flow of information is becoming the real source of capital. A net-based economy requires an unforeseen revolution of our historical concepts of society and the individual object. Questions regarding the social as well as the private sphere, ranging from new forms of a telematically defined community to the identification policy of the sexes, will be asked in different terms due to the Net. Society has reached a complex state of development in which a technological instrument like the Net has become indispensable for its functioning. Society invents the Net in order to differentiate itself even further as an information society. Thus there are social conditions demanding and promoting the development of the Net. On the other hand, it is the Net that provides for the potential of and the prerequisites for further development of the information society. The title of this exhibition is to be interpreted exactly in this sense: both as a social and technical condition. Therefore, the exhibition is not entitled, but net_condition as it discusses the social conditions, enforced by the Net, as well as the conditions, which the Net enforces upon society and art. The global Net is the driving force behind a radical economical, social and cultural revolution at the beginning of the next millennium, the outer lines of which become visible in this exhibition for the first time.

With about 100 items the exhibition aims not only to provide a comprehensive survey of the current status of international Net art, but it is above all an introduction to the political-economical ideas, social practices and artistic applications of online communication in a Net society.

Net art ranging from physically existing local installations to worldwide interlinked computer games has become the forum in which many of the liberating hopes of the historic avant-garde are expressed in new terms. Web art, net-based installations not only present the most topical phase of net art, which dominates the discourse on media after the video based sculpture of the 80s and the computer based interactive installations of the 90s, but also the form of art, to which the highest political hopes are linked. The socially revolutionary utopias of the historic avant-garde, movements of enlightenment, such as freedom of contract, equal opportunities and intercultural emancipation are now to be implemented by technology. This exhibition project is therefore interested in investigating which new conditions are imposed by the Net on historic media and the historically developed forms of communication and economy. With each new medium certain properties are lost as compared to the previous media. However, at the same time a large number of new properties are introduced, which are superior to those of the historic media in specific aspects. Therefore, emerging new media not only eliminate old media, but also impose their new conditions on them. The Photographic Condition by Rosalind Krauss changed painting, video changed cinema, digital technology changed film and video, etc. The Net as a technical disposition changes music, visual culture and literature. Besides Net-based, two-dimensional images and texts on screens there are thus also net-based installations, which adequately expand definitions of Net art that are too restricted. The Net in virtual space controls the sequence of events in real space, and events in space control the sequence of events in the virtual Net space. The structure of non-location, introduced by telephone and television, is reinforced by the Net. Distributed virtual reality, shared cyber space, non-local communication, multi-user environments and Net games are therefore at the focus of this exhibition. In this context, net_condition is not only investigated in view of the image media, but also in view of sound media. Net-based music is an important aspect of this exhibition.

Another focal point is the demonstration of specific production procedures for interactive online communication in the Net. In a separate lounge, for which Walter van der Cruijsen is responsible (co-founder of the digital city of Amsterdam), the variety of virtual neighborhoods, numerous urban projects, social interventions and forums for the exchange of opinions, are presented via lectures, performances and online chats. In a news room the visitor can gather extensive information about art and politics in the online universe. It goes without saying that the exhibition will also take place online. Benjamin Weil, to quote just one example, the founder of ada-web and at present net curator at ICA London, will install a historic overview of the major points in the relatively short history of net art, online.

There will also be online communications about net-based works of art between Graz, Barcelona, Tokyo and Karlsruhe. Modern art as a response to the machine-based Industrial Revolution created the aesthetic object as a closed system. Post-modernists in response to the post-Industrial Revolution of the information society created a form of art, characterized by undefined fields of characters and action. At present, net art is the driving force, which is the most radical in transforming the closed system of the aesthetic object of modern art into the open system of post-modern (or second modern) fields of action.

Peter Weibel


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