Works by | !Mediengruppe Bitnik – #!/usr/bin/doma, Vanessa Oniboni, Michelle Kasprzak, Luis Silva, LeisureArts, Scott Rettberg, Ela Kagl, Ursula Endlicher, _____fratha__, CONT3XT.NET | Curated by | CONT3XT.NET (Sabine Hochrieser, Michael Kargl, Franz Thalmair) | Opening | 1 October 2007
The first exhibition at TAGallery with the title “dead.art(-missing!)LINKreSources” dealt with itself: the link as the main medium for networking, collaborating, contextualising along with its role as a sign for mutual estimation in a social environment was thought to be a fragile entity. It can loose its functions as quick as it is set up by ahref. Either the server is not available for a certain time, the URL has changed or the artwork has been taken from the net. In each of the cases, the link which is not working stands for the ephemerality of Internet-based Art. Even the big institutions in the network can’t avoid broken links. The requested URL was not found on this server is just one of the representatives of an Absurdistan, which needs—despite expanding technical assistance—human care and maintenance, not to be transformed from net.art into dead.art.
Despite this initial statement of “dead.art”, TAGallery reflects in its last official exhibition with the titel “001010a.live-art(LINKreSource)” the process of development which has been run through with the curatorial platform during the past months: the most basic method of generating a freely accessible, modular network of personal associations on the World Wide Web is to create a link and thereby forge a relationship between two or more contents.
In the meantime, producing new fields of context through reciprocal referencing via links to homepages, blogs, databases and artwork has grown to become one of the most common artistic practices on the Internet. Yet, links are not only an element that provides a structure for the hypertextuality on the Internet and thus simultaneously serve as a multidimensional system of reference. Links also functions as a tool for remixing existing content, as a simplified way of copying and pasting and–particularly in the context of New Media and information-based art–as a meaning-generating entity that plays a part in understanding cultural work on the internet. Thus, “[w]e define the remix as the process of understanding a body of knowledge by using technology to rearrange and recontextualize its elements in order to construct an original narrative. (…) This remix or digitally constructivist approach–that of constructing our own narratives through surfing, searching, tagging and sharing–is becoming the dominant means by which we consume media, learn and communicate in an Internet-driven information age.” (1)
What happens when the link simultaneously becomes the representative of the art, the context, and the exhibition?
At the beginning of 2007, CONT3XT.NET, a presentation platform for Internet-based art, and the corresponding name for this discourse TAGallery were formed as a del.icio.us account. Del.icio.us is a “social tagging” platform, a simple Web 2.0 tool with limited functions for administrating Internet sites using links. These personal yet often publicly accessible link lists are interlinked among the network of users, who provide keywords and short summaries for the links. “The ‘social’ in social tagging comes from being able to view and share resources with other users of the system. For example, in Del.icio.us, as soon as a user assigns a tag to an item, she sees the number of people who have also bookmarked the site, as well as the cluster of items carrying the same tag, and any additional tags that other people have used to describe the site.” (2) The main premise for using a Del.icio.us account for curating is the concept of the “tagged exhibition” (3), which transfers the imagery and work methods of non-commercial exhibition spaces into a discursive electronic data space.
“Tagging” is a method that enables different artworks to be assigned to singular or multiple thematic positions and visualized on different levels. Keywords, which are put together in clusters to form keyword groups, heighten the readability and possibilities for interpreting the artwork and exhibition space. In this process, those who tag and the “gallery visitors” engage in a dialog with the artwork “that offers a way for people to connect directly with works of art, to own them by labelling or naming them—one of the aspects of sense-making.” (2) A specific characteristic and challenge for curating Web-based art is the performative and/or process-oriented character of many pieces, which increases the difficulty of presenting them in real exhibition spaces. Altered conditions for art production and reception on the Internet have not only changed the art itself but also the curating praxis and subsequently the task of the curator that now also call for process-oriented forms of representation.
In contrast to traditional gallery spaces, the TAGallery not only offers chronological showrooms, semantically thick exhibition titles and various approaches to contextualizing the artwork, but also makes public the act of selecting and compiling the artwork. The ongoing curatorial process is accessible via newsfeed, which designates a separate space in which to reflect these processes.
The Internet as a museum laboratory—Between Production and Presentation
In principle, the TAGallery understands itself and the possibilities it offers as a laboratory and workshop for visualizing “artistic processes–initiated by the curator–that take place in the form of interactions between the work and the viewer.” Therefore, the online gallery simultaneously alludes to the altered conditions for art production and reception and to the role of the museum within this process: “The museum is no longer a static archive. It is a dynamic and socially powerful institution. The museum’s fundamental change from a static presentational space to a dynamic production space has had a further, decisive consequence on the museum as an institution, addressed within the context of Beuys’ idea of the museum in motion, i.e. that it loses its permanent space.” (4)
The structure of the media Internet not only provides a space for the production and presentation of art, it also contributes to blurring the boundaries between production and presentation. “The discursivity of multimedia and how it can be associated with a dialectical aesthetic is characterised by the ways in which montage-like spatial juxtaposition—achieved through hyperlink structures and search-ability—is drawn upon for narrative effect. The functionality of links and databases extend upon already existing tabular, classificatory forms, such as the collection archive, catalogue, and methods of spatial arrangement in galleries–all technologies intimately associated with the historical evolution of the museum. Adopting a museological aesthetic that understands, and is more effectively calibrated to digital communication technologies, will see the museum emphasised as a machine for creating juxtaposition, a generator of conditions for dialogical encounters with the unforeseen (enabling, even privileging, the experience of surprise, the unexpected and perhaps the random).” (5)
The exhibition work on the TAGallery was to select different Internet protagonists—curators, artists, bloggers and theorists—and to invite them to work on tagging as a system and its use in curatorial processes. The results of the first ten exhibitions are as diverse as the taggers themselves. The selections range from variations of exhibitions which tag “real” art in virtual spaces to conventional thematic exhibitions to dialogues that reflect the curatorial process and play with the imagery of the art gallery and finally leads the initially postulated dead.art to sort of a “001010a.live-art(LINKreSource)“-performance.
(1) Fisher, Matthew / Twiss-Garrity, Beth A. (2007): “Remixing Exhibits: Constructing Participatory Narratives With On-Line Tools To Augment Museum Experiences” [on August 4, 2007].
(2) Zollers, Alla (2007): “Emerging Motivations for tagging. Expression, Performance, and Activism” [on August 4, 2007].
(3) Katastrofsky, Carlos (2005): “tagged exhibition – net/art?” [on August 4, 2007].
(4) Wall, Tobias (2006): “Das unmögliche Museum. Zum Verhältnis von Kunst und Kunstmuseeum der Gegenwart”, transcript/Bielefeld, p. 264.
(5) Dziekan, Vince (2005): “Beyond the Museum Walls: Situating Art in Virtual Space (Polemic Overlay and Three Movements)” [on July 26, 2007].
—tags: absurdity, curating, folksonomy, selfreferentialism