The Link Art Center Closes Down. Interview with the Founders

Debate, Texts
Collect the WWWorld. The Artist as Archivist in the Internet Age at 319 Scholes, New York 2012. Curated by Domenico Quaranta

What follows is the English translation (courtesy Google Translate, with some editing by yours truly) of an interview originally published in Italian on Artribune, about the end of the Link Art Center (here the official announcement). Together with my long time partners Lucio Chiappa, Matteo Cremonesi, Fabio Paris, I discuss with Valentina Tanni about the increasing awareness of digital cultures in mainstream contemporary art, media art institutions, collaboration, curating, publishing, and working on all this from Italy…

Valentina Tanni, in Artribune, September 19, 2019

After eight years of editorial, curatorial and exhibition activity, the Link Art Center, a cultural association engaged in the dissemination of new media art, announced its closure. We spoke with the founders – Domenico Quaranta, Fabio Paris, Lucio Chiappa and Matteo Cremonesi – to take stock of this important experience.

Let’s start with the inevitable question: why do you stop? Why now?

Domenico Quaranta: The Link Art Center was founded as a cultural association in 2011, with the mission to foster, at national and international level, a greater diffusion and awareness of the “arts of the information age”. At the time we perceived this mission as a burning necessity. We were spectators of a dynamism of the artists that did not find an adequate response in the institutions, in the magazines, in the market. We had to do something, and we did it. But on this front, from 2011 to 2019, there have been enormous changes, both at the artistic level and at a more general level of society, in Italy and in the rest of the world. Just visit a mainstream contemporary art event such as this year’s Venice Biennale to perceive the scale of this change. Themes that once would have been defined as “digital culture”, such as artificial intelligence, are now on the agenda, and not just in a discursive niche; languages ​​that once would have been defined as “new media”, such as virtual reality, are placed in the hands of contemporary art veterans such as Marina Abramovič or Anish Kapoor.

Net Art Anthology

Texts

Michael Connor, Aria Dean, Dragan Espenschied (eds), The Art Happens Here: Net Art Anthology, Rhizome, New York 2019. Image courtesy Rhizome

A long review I wrote about Rhizome’s Net Art Anthology, that takes off from the online initiative to consider the New Museum exhibition and the publication as well, is out in Camera Austria: Domenico Quaranta, “Net Art Anthology”, in Camera Austria International, Issue 146, pp. 81 – 82. Download pdf

In a recent comment about his ten years old project Post Internet, Los Angeles based author Gene McHugh says: “What was so vital then, often appears dated now. That fact, it’s becoming more and more clear, is the ontological condition of post-internet art. Most of it is an art of the right now and quickly becomes dead, at best a historical example. That sounds disparaging, but I don’t exactly mean it that way. At the time it mattered more than anything.” [1] Post Internet was a blog project started on December 2009, thanks to a grant of the Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program. Using one of WordPress’ default templates, from December 29, 2009 to September 5, 2010, McHugh posted – sometimes on a daily basis, sometimes less frequently – his notes about the online practices of a generation of artists he felt akin to, often gathering around online communities they called “surfing clubs”, that – following the definition suggested by artist and Rhizome’s curator Marisa Olson [2] – he described as Post Internet artists (a definition that would later become viral).

Exhibition Strategies For Digital Art: Examples And Considerations

Texts
Written in Stone. A net.art archaeology as partially re-enacted for net.art Painters and Poets, Mestna galerija Ljubljana 2014 (curated by Vuk Ćosić & Alenka Gregorič)

Published in: Lorenzo Giusti, Nicola Ricciardi (Eds.), Museums At The Post-Digital Turn, Amaci — OGR — Mousse Publishing, Milan 2019, pp. 177–198. Buy the book here

The aim of this contribution is to contest itself — or, rather, its title. It is to demonstrate that, at the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century, we have reached an evolutionary phase in the so-called digital arts in which there is no longer any point hypothesizing about whether it is necessary to develop specific exhibition strategies that may facilitate public presentation in the display spaces of contemporary art of works that make use of digital media in their production or distribution, and/or make reference to the themes, aesthetics, and procedures that have emerged alongside digital media. [1] Further radicalizing the matter, this text sets out to show that today, the “problem” with digital art lies in the very use of this term, and in the artificial logics of merging (of works and artists that have little or nothing in common) and of segregation (from the rest of contemporary art) that its use reflects, and at the same time contributes to maintaining and consolidating. [2]

Art numerique: un art contemporain

Texts
Exhibition View, Hito Steyerl, Hell Yeah We Fuck Die at Kunstmuseum Basel Gegenwart 2018 / Photo: Marc Asekhame / Courtesy: Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York

Written for and published in: Documents — Collecting digital art — Volume 2–2007–2018, Les presses du réel, Dijion, November 2018. Preface by Florian Bouquet and Marie-Claude Chitry-Clerc. Foreword by Valérie Perrin. Texts by Cécile Dazord and Domenico Quaranta. Co-published with the Espace multimédia Gantner. English — French, ISBN: 978–2–37896–019–3.

“Today, one must struggle, not — as Greenberg did — for the preservation of an avant-garde that is self sufficient and focused on the specificities of its means, but rather for the indeterminacy of art’s source code, its dispersion and dissemination, so that it remains impossible to pin down — in opposition to the hyperformatting that, paradoxically, distinguishes kitsch.” i

Digital art (at the time, mostly identified as Computer Art) came about in the early Sixties as an artistic response to the emergence of the computer and digital media, and as an articulation of one of the most interesting moments in the history of contemporary art — the one that, as it is widely recognized, shaped the contemporary art world and the very notion of contemporary art as we know it. In the effort to go beyond the Art Informel / Abstract Expressionist esperanto, that dominated the previous decade, artists started to look back at the Avantgardes, and to build upon that part of their legacy that was left discarded by the artistic movements active between the two World Wars: their attempt to merge art and life, to bring art everywhere and to make it with all the available means, thus rejecting the traditional media of modern art and experimenting with all available media, either borrowing them from other artistic fields (such as theatre) or from the world of industrial production, mass communication or technological innovation.

A menu option. Notes on post-digital photography

Texts
Eva and Franco Mattes, The Others, 2011. Video, 137 min, dimension variable. Exhibition view, HEK, Basel 2012

I pick the phone, type the security code, aim straight to the “Camera” app. I raise it in front of me, and when the image I see on the screen convinces me, I press a virtual button. Three times. I open the gallery, choose the picture I prefer, select “Share” and “Instagram”. I frame the image, apply a filter, access the parameters and add some contrast. I proceed by “tagging” a person and adding a couple of #hashtags and a caption, then I share it. Instagram automatically posts my image on Facebook and Twitter. If I am lucky, a cloud of hearts and thumbs will rise around it, maybe a few comments. Maybe someone will download it and do something with it. Or maybe not. But, for sure, some obscure algorithm will use it to collect personal information about me or the person I tagged, and it will be more certain when it will suggest someone else to tag the same person in another image.