ART.HACKTIVISM


0100101110101101.ORG (by luther blissett)


Net.art, born just some years ago, is becoming "the" new art form, the ultimate one, and the most absurd thing is that net.artists themselves seem to expect nothing else. Everyone with his own site, everyone with his own domain, everyone with his own gallery, they are throwing themselves into the trammels of traditional art, completely ignoring what net.art could/should be and misunderstanding the real power of the web.

The point under discussion is always the same: how to sell a net.art work. In other words: how to make net.art regress to the status of traditional art. And the answers come. New galleries and collections of the biggest contemporary art museums thrive, articles on glossy reviews increase, and the most absurd offers of marketing spread. All of it dictated by one and only ideal: the circled "C". Result? Within two years net.art will be in all museums and art history handbooks, with the names of the "protagonists of the heroic period" dates, movements, influences, generations, and so on, tons of the same shit we have been eating all the times. But this is not what we expected. We hoped that something else would come out, at least in the web. The web is the paradise of no-copyright, plagiarism, confusion and exchange, why the hell are those people trying, by any means, to create a copy of the real world?

The difference between net.art and every other form of art seems to be "interactivity", at least this is what we got used to hear. Well: "interactivity", as it's usually intended, is a delusion, pure falsehood. When people reach a site (net.art or not, it doesn't matter), by their mouse clicks they choose one of the routes fixed by the authors), they only decide what to see before and what after-this is not interactivity. It would be the same as stating that an exposition in a museum is interactive because you can choose from which room to start, which works to see before and which ones after, or because you can turn around a sculpture and see it from different points of view. If net.art is interactive then Canova is interactive as well, otherwise none of them.

But recently something's changed. 0100101110101101.ORG came into the limelight for having hacked Hell.com. In fact 0100101110101101.ORG is trying to show that art in the web can really become "interactive"; the public must use it interactively, we must use an artwork in an unpredictable way, one that the author didn't foresee, to rescue it from its normal routing (studio/gallery/museum or homepage/Hell.com/Moma) and re-use it in a different and novel way. When this happens in 'real life' people are sent to prison or to madhouses. Even the web is going towards such a situation, all the paradigms of traditional art are imposing themselves again.

The first files that appeared in 0100101110101101.ORG are what we'll call "hybrids", in absence of other names: pages by other net.artists all mixed in a random way. This section of the site is centered around a random concept, so that the interface changes every time you visit it. The toolbar becomes useless, the "back" command loses its logical function: every page is set in the unpredictable sequence of chance. 0100101110101101.ORG downloads the web sites if the most popular net.artists and then s/he/it manipulates them as it wants, using them in an interactive way.

In spite of all the things that have been said about the "open_source_Hell.com" affairit, it seems that very few people have said something interesting. We can report here a press release circulated in those days:

open_source_Hell.com

www.Hell.com was born in 1995 as a conceptual art piece, an anti-web that sold and promoted nothing and was not accessible to the public: a sheer b(l)ack hole on the web. For almost three years, Hell.com, a site with no content, never listed in any directory nor linked anywhere, averaged a million hits per month from people typing the name in search engines. Then it became a container for net.art sites and art galleries which you could access only if you were invited, and whose list of members was keptsecret; something they themselves called "a private parallel web." The idea behind Hell.com was to create a launching pad for cyber-artists-extremely elitist and with badly hidden venal ambitions a fucking museum.

During February 1999 Hell.com organized "surface": a show with several superstar net.artists like Zuper!, Absurd, Fakeshop and many more. Like all the events by Hell.com, this one was not available to the public either-it was opened exclusively to Rhizome subscribers.

During the 48 hour opening 0100101110101101.ORG downloaded all the files of the site; the clone has been put on line, this time as anticopyright, visible, reproducible and, thanks to some technical devices, even more easily downloadable. The conviction that information must be free is a tribute to the way in which a very good computer or a valid program works: binary numbers move in accordance with the most logic, direct and necessary way to do their complex function. What is a computer if not something that benefits by the free flow of information?

The night of 9th June, it was Art.Teleportacia's turn. "Art.Teleportacia" is the firstnet.art fallery to have appeared on the web, and also the first attempt to sell works of net.art. The exhibition we're talking about was "Miniatures of the heroic period", and consisted of some pages by five of the most known net.artists in the world-Jodi, Vuk, Irational, Easylife, and Lialina-for sale at $2000 each! 0100101110101101.ORG cloned the gallery, manipulated the contents and uploaded it in a new "anticopyright" version, obviously without asking permission to anyone and violating the copyright of the original site. The exhibition changed its name into "Hybrids of the heroic period", and the five "original" works were replaced with as many "hybrids", files obtained mixing pages by net.artists with some trash of the web.

The theoretical pillars that hold Art.Teleportacia are mainly three:
1. A work of net.art can be sold as well as any other work of art
2. Each net.art work must be covered by copyright and nobody, except the artist, can download it or even link to it without the permission of the author
3. The "sign" of a net.art work is in the "location bar", so the URL is the only guarantee of originality.

Cloning Art.Teleportacia 0100101110101101.ORG brought down all the presuppositions of the gallery; the contradictions which this way of thinking runs into became evident. Technically whoever visits a site downloads automatically, in the cache, all the files s/he sees. In fact s/he already owns them, therefore it is nonsense to sell pages already being in the hard disks of millions of people-it would be more useful to tell the public the fastest way to download the whole web site. We must keep in mind that net.art is digital, it is binary code, everything is reproducible to infinity without losing quality just numbers-finally, we entered the "age of its mechanical reproducibility"-and every copy is identical to the "original" one. The concept itself of an "original" is now meaningless, and even the concepts of false and plagiarism don't exist any longer. If it is obsolete to talk about "originals" in the real world, it becomes absolutely paradoxical in the web. This seems to be the thread between the so called "hybrids", Art.Teleportacia and Hell.com.

There is no Genius isolated from the world and inspired by the Muse-culture is made by people exchanging information and re-working on what has already been done in the past, it has always been like that. Culture is only a big, endless plagiarism in which nobody invents nothing, people only rework, and this reworking happens collectively: nobody creates nothing alone. This happens also in "real life", but the web is the best place to show it. It is no longer necessary to deface paintings (like Alexander Brener) or to put a mustache on postcards of Mona Lisa (like Duchamp), now art can be downloaded, modified and uploaded again, with absolute delight.

We wish to see hundreds of 0100101110101101.ORG repeating sites of net.artists endlessly, so that nobody realizes which was the "original" one. We would like to see hundreds of Jodi and Hell.com, all different, all original, and nobody filing lawsuits for copyright infringement, since there would be no more originals to preserve. "Webdevil" will be the brush of a new generation of artists?

 

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