On The Nature of Online Art

You’ve been reading, browsing through other’s Del.icio.us tags and even making a delicious tags page.
In the process you came across a whole lot of great links from Bilateral, one of which took you out for an interesting spin:



It is a ‘solidarity’ in material practice that underpins my brief talk, making reference to Benjamin’s much-quoted ‘The Author as Producer’ talk of 1934 [first presented as a lecture in April 1934 at the Institute for the Study of Fascism in Paris]. In this Benjamin argued that social relations are determined by the relations of production and therefore progressive artists should try to transform those relations. More recently, Hal Foster has recast this tendency as ‘the artist as ethnographer’ to take account of the institutional frame (he is thinking of the art ‘field-work’ of Jimmie Durham for instance); the artist no longer exclusively working on behalf of the proletariat but in addition the cultural or ethnic other. For Foster, there is the danger of inscribing otherness if due attention is not given to the production process itself; he calls for reflexivity advocating ‘work that attempts to frame the framer as he or she frames the other.’ [Hal Foster, ‘The Artist as Ethnographer’, in The Return of the Real, MIT Press 1996, p.203]

This fragment came from Geoff Cox‘s website and thesis projet.
Geoff is an artist, teacher and projects organiser as well as currently lecturer at the University of Plymouth (UK).

His thesis investigate the production of virtual text and Hyper text not only as a legitimate medium but also an active agent in the creation of culture, and to many extents, art.

In a way “I code, therefore I am”

–> abstract:

Software art refers to the production of software as art rather than the use of software to produce art. This thesis situates software arts practice in relation to a dialectical materialist tradition that focusses attention on the site of production and the contradictions within the relations of production. By making reference to post-Marxist theories, it is argued that antagonisms associated with traditional forms of labour have been extended to include the labour of machines and software. Therefore any analysis of the labour involved in making art must recognise the ways in which labour has become more immaterial, collective and communicative. In the case of software art, both the programmer and program can be seen to work, and produce artwork as software. Software art thereby holds the potential to make apparent the contradictions within the relations of production, as well as the potential to be programmed to act in a disruptive manner. That software art demonstrates emergent properties is substantiated by referring to both systems theory and dialectics, that share a common interest in dynamic processes and transformative agency.

Consequently, the term ‘software praxis’ is proposed to characterise the combination of creative and critical activity embodied in transformative action. It is the assertion of this thesis that software art praxis can offer new critical forms of arts practice by embodying contradictions in the interplay between code and action. Contradiction is also embodied in the form this PhD submission takes: it is both a thesis in itself and, like software, ready to express its dialectical potential once executed. This thesis takes the conventional form of academic writing and a program script written in Perl. It collapses form and content by presenting a thesis _about_ software art that is simultaneously an example _of_ software art. Both the text and the program script can be interpreted and acted upon.

Interesting avenue of thought for you in that much of what you’ve done in this Weedyconnection project revolves around the idea of re-appropriation of information, down to the unashamedly hacking of government sites about weeds (see this from Weeds Australia and this from the Weedyconnection’s database as an example)

Cox is been involved in an erray of interesting projects, like “Notes Towards the Complete Works of Shakespeare”, and written and co-written a number of essays and articles on the subject, full list here.

Below is a number of short films, this one is from the exhibition Generator, part of the Liverpool Biennal 2002

And here is a short documentary about the Notes Towards the Complete Works of Shakespeare project

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