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"Art And Money Online"
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"Art And Money Online"

10.05.2001
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Speakers:>  Julian Stallabrass

[Below, Julian Stallabrass talks about the cultural and art historical background to 'Art and Money Online, which included: 'Black Shoals - Stock Market Planetarium' by Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway; 'CNN Interactive Just Got More Interactive' by Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead; and 'Free Agent' by Redundant Technology Initiative.]

Presentation excerpts:

[] Now these works are obviously hybrid works and they were commissioned for the show. Part of the idea of the show - was to create something of a crossover audience between those people who knew about online culture and Web art and those people who know about gallery and museum art. There are two connected elites, but very often the crossover is not - as Vuk has already suggested - as close as it might be. So that was part of the aim of the show, it was I guess meant to be in many ways an educative show. But of course works like this are very different from pure Web art. You can easily make copies of that and Vuk showed you his appropriation of the Documenta site. Many pieces of online art works are gifts to their viewers. They dont have a material presence. The code can be reused and very often it is and plainly that kind of work is very different from the sorts of work that were mostly familiar with. They are different from even the most radical works of conceptual art, which I think they follow on from in certain sense, which retains some sliver of materiality that was seized upon as they were drawn into mainstream art institutions. The ownership and status of online works I think is a really difficult matter for the art world sunk as it is in ancient craft practices and habits of patronage. Even more terrifying perhaps than the sharing of music files is for the music industry, because as Eric Hobspawm points out, the art work has not yet embraced mechanical reproduction fully, never mind the next stage.

So Art and Money Online was a way of exploring that interaction between the online art world and the museum. Now each perhaps potentially have things to offer each other. The museum brings to online artists audiences that they otherwise might find hard to reach, for its easy to languish in obscurity when the Web is full of brash and rich commercial sites and online artists clearly give the museum a link into a rapidly changing and alien culture. But there is a real worry here I think that as other new media like photography and video for instance became accommodated by the museum, many would say that they changed too much in their transformation into familiar looking works of art and the museum didnt change enough. But the challenge of online art is greater and it holds out the hope for a transformation of art in a democratic and participatory direction. I think I would strongly endorse what Vuk said about conversations in the online world and the importance of those and the openness of those. I think theres such a difference between the mainstream art world and the online world in that way and its one of the most striking contrasts. So as I say, theres a potential here for the transformation of art in a democratic and participatory direction, but the resistance in the art institutions - and above all the art market - will be strong and dangerous.

[slide] There were two panels when you went into the exhibition. One, once you had got inside the door to the Art Now room, I had written and was my opinion of what the show was about. But the other one - before you went through that door, which said Sponsor at the top and which I hadnt seen until the show opened - was rather extraordinary. Now part of what this says is how wonderful Reuters is - and thats fine. Thats what you would expect and they did give quite a bit of money to the show. What this does raise very clearly is that there was one installation - Autogenas and Portways - which required a lot of money and so I think that immediately involves you in certain compromises which RTI, as I said, steps around. But the other thing that this panel does is to give Reuters idea of whats going on in the exhibition - as if they had been in some way responsible for its curation and that I did find rather extraordinary. Their view of it was much more upbeat in a sense than mine.

So I guess the question that I want to end with - and I really dont know the answer to this at all and would be very willing to discuss it if you want to - is whether a show like this, whether the educative and access virtues of it - I hope they are virtues - outweigh the contamination of pure Net Art through its potential commodification, and the training that the mainstream art world gets in bending Net Art to its purposes. As I say, I really dont know. []

Audience responses:

Hannah Redler, Jubilee Art, C-Plex Project:

[] I think that one of the schisms weve got at the moment is that the Internet is an emerging form, which is probably something that youve come up against and suddenly youve got the Tate and the Science Museum trying to show something as a finished product, but in fact the debate and the discussion thats going on in the creation of the works isnt a finished product. [] Theres lots of reasons why we didnt know how and one of them was Vuks point, that you just cant take an intimate something thats meant to be seen on the small screen and project it like The Whitney did in the Biennial. Large-scale is boring! Also its not an interesting exhibition experience and I think theres also questions to be asked about when people come to museums and art galleries - are they looking for a curated, edited experience? I think they are, so in that respect we dont want people to go whizzing off to the porn sites - they can do that at home. But on the other hand we want them to feel that were being over authoritative, so I think its quite difficult. []

Julian Stallabrass:

Yes, I think there are lot of good things there. When the Tate was thinking about a larger show for this - maybe a three-roomed exhibition - what I wanted to do very much was to have maybe the middle room just as an Internet Caf essentially which people could use free. But I feel extremely uncomfortable about this hobbling of browsers that you often get, or just the removal of online content completely so that it all comes cache from a hard disc or whatever. I mean, ZKM had this very strange experience that you had to move from machine to machine to see different works, as if they were pictures in a gallery. I mean this is surely absurd! It's crazy. []

Steven Bode, Film and Video Umbrella:

I just wanted to talk a bit about the curatorial decision making process thats been part of the Tate show and I think Im right in saying that every other 'Art Now show at the Tate has always been a showcase of a single artist whose decision it was to include three works in the show - whether it had come from you or whether there had been an implicit pressure from the Tate? Because often what happens I think with work which institutions feel slightly less than confident about, is the sense that maybe this work wont stand up on its own so we need to give people a bit more of that just in case they dont like that piece, so lets give them a few other things. []

Julian Stallabrass:

Well the pressure was actually in the opposite direction. The Tate were very impressed early on by the Autogena and Portway piece and would have, I think, been quite happy to show that on its own and so I was actually being constantly pressured to reduce the number of artists in the show. I was extremely reluctant to do that because the proposal that I originally put to them. once you start working in an institution like that you realise how dependent on other things decisions like that are - on other things and other shows, last minute changes in Tate schedules and things like that. So this was obviously a fairly low priority for them I think, this exhibition. And it got messed around as a result. [] The other thing I should say, I think, about this show is that its the first time - although Art Now is their project space that artists who havent had dealer representation have ever shown there. []

Vuk Cosic:

[] The other detail of the maintenance of prestige I think I was mentioning before how it works and why, but what I observe as especially revolting are these totally drunken marriages between arts institutions and technological firms. I think the absolute maximum was 'SUN-ICA', this institution in London that recently changed its name back into ICA. Its very terrible. But then you have a far more intelligent case in the US. You have SFMoMA thats 'owned' by the Intel Corporation. []. So if you look today at what ICA actually achieved Come on! They got two aquariums for unused and useless machines and they sold their shop window across the street from Buckingham Palace to some Americans - how cool! No single artist profited out of this. []

Peter Ride (DA2):

[] I want to follow on from some of the stuff that Hannah was saying about process-based work. [] And I think what happens in the Tate show is really interesting and not at all dissimilar to what happens in other shows, in that work which is so much about a form of online communication takes on a very object-based quality. And in lots of ways, certainly with Jon Thompon and Alison Craighead and with Josh Portway and Lise Autogena's, is gorgeous; they are gorgeous objects in themselves, and RTI's technology is more object-based anyway. That's not uncommon - you see that in a lot of places. [] But the thing that really interests me is why it is hard to show that in organisations like the Tate. [] its not like organisations like that aren't used to process-based work. They have work that decomposes or deconstructs or builds over a period of time or is performance based - they have that in lots of their other spaces and lots of their other programmes. []

Pamela Wells (Wallsall Youth Arts):

[] when you curate a show that's mostly websites, part of me just wonders 'is there or isn't there a way that you can curate it?' You were saying that well you can't quite curate it so you just don't. It's okay if people start with a website and they go off somewhere else. So I wonder if that's not lazy curating and if there is some way through that? []

 

 
Keywords:

  net.art
  installation
  time
  space
  interaction
  conceptual art
  audience
  video
  money
  press
  sponsorship
  museums
  race

People:

  Vuk Cosic
  Julian Stallabrass
  Jon Thomson
  Alison Craighead
  Hannah Redler