Headlines Extra -- The Arts Online

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Mon, 12 Apr 1999 09:24:42 -0700 (PDT)

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>Launched in 1996 as a joint project of the National Endowment for the Arts
>the Benton Foundation, Open Studio: The Arts Online is the only national
>initiative working to train the nonprofit arts community to effectively
use the
>World Wide Web for online communication, publication, and creative
>Through Open Studio, more than 600 artists and arts organizations in 28
>are building Web sites and using online technology to expand their audiences.
>Open Studio is funded by NEA Leadership Initiatives totaling $1.5 million
>three years with additional support provided by the Ford Foundation,
>Corporation, and AT&T.
>Earlier this week, Open Studio announced the relaunch of its Web site
>(www.openstudio.org). Featuring a new, crisp design and user-friendly
>navigation, this dynamic learning resource showcases Internet training and
>Web publishing material collected from Open Studio's national network of
>training sites over the past two years. The Open Studio Web site is a
>resource for nonprofit arts organizations, artists, and technology trainers
>seeking tools and models for effectively using the World Wide Web.
>New to the site is the inaugural issue of Open Studio's online magazine,
>Digital Canvas. This first issue discusses technology access for the arts
>community and highlights outreach strategies by national training sites to
>serve underrepresented communities. We cover the Digital Canvas and other
>publications in this week's Extra on The Arts Online.
>Headlines Extra -- The Arts Online 4/8/99
> The Role Of The Arts In The Digital World (Digital Canvas)
> Net.Art In The Age Of Digital Reproduction (Switch)
> Making It Happen: Access and the Arts Community (Digital Canvas)
> Taking the Reins: The Jovino Santos Neto Music Room (Digital Canvas)
> Electronic Civil Disobedience and the World Wide Web of
> Hactivism: A Mapping of Extraparliamentarian Direct Action
> Net Politics (Switch)
> Museums And Technology: A Picture Of Metamorphosis (CA Culture Net)
>Issue: Art/Communities
>In a nation where artists receive little public support, art -- for some --
>has become far removed from the reality of daily life. Many art forms, once
>vital aspects of community identity and cultural life, are now directed
>exclusively at elite audiences. Telecommunications technology, however,
>might act as an important bridge between artist, arts organizations, and
>communities. The Internet provides much more than just the ability to access
>information; it is interactive. According to Amy Bruckman of the MIT Media
>Lab, the Web is "about community, participation, and creation." The digital
>age has opened the door to exciting new opportunities for artists and
>audiences to interact with one another. The Internet's global reach brings
>distant images into homes, transcending national and cultural boundaries.
>Through email and chat, audiences can instantly access creators of Web art.
>Seeing the need for artists to play a role in shaping the emerging
>information society, the Benton Foundation and the National Endowment for
>the Arts created Open Studio: The Arts Online as a means of facilitating
>artists' ability to reach out to their communities. Open Studio provides
>arts organizations the resources needed to help artists display their work
>and build community online.
>[SOURCE: Digital Canvas]
>Issue: Art on the Web
>David Ross, director of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA),
>attempts to define "web.art" or "net.art." He cites Walter Benjamin's 1933
>essay, "Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" as a starting
>point in understanding the relationship between art
>and technology. Benjamin wondered how photography changed the nature of art
>itself. Benjamin used the term "aura" to describe an essential quality in an
>object that was lost in its reproduction. As another point of
>contextualization of the intersection of art and technology, Ross considers
>the practice of video art in the early 70's. Douglas Davis's 1973 "Talk-Out"
>was a live, collaborative piece in which viewers called-in to the artist who
>typed viewer responses and broadcast it. Another example is Korean-born Nam
>June Paik's "Global Groove." It combined expression globally with the words
>of Allen Ginsberg, the music of a Korean drum dancer, and a Navajo singer.
>With cable television came hope for more global collaborations that have
>been thwarted by artists' lack of access to expensive satellites. Ross
>provides several distinctive qualities of net.art:
> * "The ability to move and assemble audiences." With any other
type of
>performance art, the artists' works assemble the audience. With the Internet,
>artists have the power to transform the performance space into a space
that is
>"no longer controllable."
> * "Authority shifts between reader and writer." The Net allows a
>space in which authority is not in the hands of who holds the camera or the
>mike, but is
>held by whomever has the best idea -- from which a new social dynamic
> * "Net.art is based on an economy of abundance." The Internet,
>not really free, is freer than corporate and government controlled cable and
>broadcasting. He encourages wealthy patrons to continue to invest in
>the Internet's "economy of abundance" -- supporting artists' expression in a
>way that ensures freedom, diversity and openness.
> * "Net.art is produced within a medium in which extraordinary digital
>tools are available." The quality of sound and images of net.art is
>unprecedented. Artists are just exploring the medium's ability to layer and
>potential for play with color.
> * "Shifting Identities." The 80's and 90's were about identity. The
>ability to falsify, manipulate and shift identities on the Web is "truly
>amazing." Artmart, the collaborative Bay Area group, as an example,
>constitutes itself as an anonymous investment banking firm to generate
>projects like the Barbie Liberation Front.
> * "The ability to choose the exact size of the audience." With
>artists have the ability to Webcast to a selected audience or an infinite
> * "The net is not directly commodifiable." The artist now has
>Imagine how much money an individual artist could make by charging a dime for
>each person who visited your site. To this point, Ross has not seen a way
>galleries or other entities have commodified net.art. One exception is
>-- a Web poetry project. Visitors were charged $1.50, but the small fee
went to
>each poet.
>[SOURCE: Switch; AUTHOR: David Ross]
>Issue: Access
>A look at the efforts of Open Studio to expand Internet access is the arts
>community. Combining 1) physical space: a place with up-to-date hardware and
>software that is connected to the Internet, 2) online space: digital public
>space for artists and arts organizations to publish their information, and
>3) training: learning to use technology effectively, Open Studio aims to
>increase the ability of artists to participate in and contribute to online
>activity, whether it be publishing Web sites, interacting in online
>discussions, or broadcasting new artwork. This article focuses on efforts to
>ensure access in rural and low-income communities and increasing the
>diversity of voices online. Open Studio selected 18 regional training sites
>-- mentor sites -- to create training programs which shape existing
>technology resources and address the needs of arts communities.
>[SOURCE: Digital Canvas, AUTHOR: Victoria Bernal]
>Issue: Practice
>Perhaps one of the most revolutionary aspects of the digital environment for
>artists is the control the medium gives them over the means of production
>and distribution of their art. The article profiles musician Jovino Santos
>and his use of networked computers to expand public appreciation and help to
>establish a market for his work.
>[SOURCE: Digital Canvas, AUTHOR: Monica Williams]
>Issue: Content/Technology
>Cyberhistorians should view 1998 as the year of the emergence of two related
>phenomena, electronic civil disobedience and hactivism. Both should be
>observed under "the rubric of extraparliamentarian direct action Net
>politics, where extraparliamentarian is taken to mean politics other than
>electoral or party politics, primarily the grassroots politics of social
>movement." The author offers five portals for consideration which run from
>pure speech to pure action in support of extraparliamentarian direct action
>Net politics.
>1) Computerized Activism - With the emergence of PeaceNet in 1986, political
>activists began to communicate with one another across international borders
>with relative ease and speed. Today a growing array of tools are used:
>newsgroup services, Bulletin Board Systems, email lists
>and gopher sites.
>2) Grassroots Infowar - The war of words, the propaganda war, is the first
>real step toward action using Internet media forms. Degree of intensity is
>3) Electronic Civil Disobedience - Being applied experimentally to the
>Internet are the tactics of trespass and blockade. The results are virtual
>blockades and virtual sit-ins. In 1998
>the Electronic Disturbance Theatre created software called FloodNet that can
>be used to point toward an opponents site and, if critical mass is reached,
>block further entry.
>4) Politicized Hacking - The most popular tactic of 1998 was hacking into
>sites and placing divergent political messages on those sites ["Release
>Dolly!" was our favorite]. Differing from participants in Group 3, this
>group usually attempts to remain anonymous while politically hacking. This
>group also includes actions of individuals more often than groups.
>Politicized hacking is still very much in its infancy.
>5) Resistance to Future War - The Gulf War was the first war with great
>dependence on information and communication technology. Opposition was
>supported by electronic media and by people
>who went to the streets because of seeing posters or hearing announcements
>on TV or on radio, or through word of mouth. Electronic media supports a
>convergence of generalized resistance.
>In summary, hactivism, now in a period of expansion, represents a spectrum
>of possibilities that exists in some combination of word and deed. What are
>the long term consequences posed for governments and states if individuals,
>non-state actors, can engage in forms of cyperspacial resistance across
>traditional geo-political borders?
>[SOURCE: Switch, AUTHOR: Stefan Wray]
>Issue: Museums
>The rate of change in museums' use of the Internet to broaden access has
>been "radical." However, the World Wide Web is a catalyst for the "museum
>metamorphosis." Initially the Internet was used by most museums as expanded
>brochures, providing hours of operation, location and current exhibits. At
>first the question was, "Should we go online?" Questions have now evolved
>into ways to create savvy looking sites. In light of the culture of
museums as
>organizations that "are accustomed to a slower pace of change and growth,"
>conversion to the fast-paced and up-to-the-minute information aspect of the
>Internet is a challenge for museums as an institution. Several issues are
>particularly relevant to museums going online -- copyright, licensing
fees, as
>well as the physical task of scanning and digitizing artifacts. Staffing is
>also an issue that has risen. Should a technical expert be doing the job or
>should it be done by an art expert? Tight museum budgets are also an issue to
>consider. Dixon raises the question -- should museum's be purchasing
>that may quickly be outdated or should they rely on grants from corporate
>sponsors to keep up with technological innovation.
>The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco have answered some of these
questions by
>training existing staff in technical skills and are digitizing there
>and putting the images online. Other museums are using the Internet with
>projects such as national museum calendars and fulfilling exhibition and
>educational needs. Museum staff who were once focused on preserving precious
>objects are now thinking about methods of capturing and digitizing visual
>information about the objects they care for. Dixon argues that the Internet
>and digital technology need to be credited for transforming the way art is
>distributed by broadening access: "Surely these virtual inventions will
>transform the way art is communicated to people, and will advance the
>and appreciation of all forms of art in ways no one is certain of yet."
>[Source:California Culture Net; AUTHOR: Pam Dixon]
>See Also:
>Museums and the Web 1999 -- an international conference that took place March
>11-14, 1999 in New Orleans focused on the impact of the Web on museums.
>Information and conference proceedings are available at the site.
>(c)Benton Foundation, 1999. Redistribution of this email publication -- both
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Gary Handman
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley 94720-6000

"Everything wants to become television" (James Ulmer -- Teletheory)