From Context to Content: On the Preservation of Net-based Art

Texts
Domenico Quaranta: From Context to Content

“From Context to Content: On the Preservation of Net-based Art” is a text commissioned for and published in Science and Art: The Contemporary Painted Surface, edited by Antonio Sgamellotti, Brunetto Giovanni Brunetti, Costanza Miliani and published by the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2020. Science and Art: The Contemporary Painted Surface consists of a series of chapters written together by scientists, art historians, conservators, curators and artists dedicated to conservation, execution techniques, languages and conceptual topics. The book largely covers execution techniques, material’s conservation and languages of artists, representative of twelve different countries, all protagonists of the development of innovative significant techniques and methodologies.

Science and Art. The contemporary painted surface

Science and Art: The Contemporary Painted Surface is available on Amazon and other bookstores. Alternatively, you can buy single chapters of the book here. Below you can find an abstract of my contribution, that can be bought in full following this link.

“For net art, being on the web has always been the consequence of a choice of freedom, not an imposed condition.” Interview on Generazione critica

Texts

In this recent interview I had for the online magazine Generazione Critica I discuss about the internet as a space of freedom vs confinement, net based galleries and shows, the success and failures of net based art. Available both in English and Italian.

“Like many other realities, in this time of lock-in and fear of human contact, the world of art has been forced to migrate online. Some have been content with putting things on their social media or live streaming on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube, or to further utilise their mailing list as a communication tool; the more adventurous organized online exhibitions, fairs and virtual viewing rooms. All of a sudden, the network has changed, from a place of communication and support to physical space, to the only possible space for the manifestation of art. Given the current circumstances, it was predictable that the artistic practices that had long ago chosen the network as their primary space of existence would find renewed interest. There is nothing wrong with that, a reinterpretation of the net art tradition might prove to be one of the positive aspects of this unfortunate period, and teach to the “non-native” arts something about this space. But describing net art as perfect for this moment of forced imprisonment on the screen and on the net is very dangerous, because it risks falsifying completely its nature and jeopardizing its understanding. For net art, being on the web has always been the consequence of a choice of freedom, not an imposed condition. We choose to make art on the net to explore new conditions, to be part of a community, to establish a direct dialogue with the spectator and with the public space of which we are part. That’s how it was in the Nineties, and continues to be today, but with differences. Think about Land art: it was, and in some ways still is, a refusal of the white cube and its implications, the search for huge spaces, the desire to leave a formal mark on the natural world and to create new spaces for relationships. But if, due to some cataclysm, the whole world of art was forced to leave the museums and galleries, and retreat to the Nevada desert, would they continue in the same way? Would we all become Land artists?”

Go on reading…

Sopravvivenza programmata

Book, Texts
Valentino Catricalà e Domenico Quaranta (a cura di), SOPRAVVIVENZA PROGRAMMATA. Etiche e pratiche di conservazione, dall’arte cinetica alla Net Art, Edizioni Kappabit, Roma 2020. Brossura cucita, 350 pagine, ISBN 9788894361803

SOPRAVVIVENZA PROGRAMMATA. Etiche e pratiche di conservazione, dall’arte cinetica alla Net Art è un volume che ho curato con Valentino Catricalà, raccogliendo contributi di Laura Barreca, Laura Calvi, Valentino Catricalà, Alice Devecchi, Roberto Dipasquale, Ben Fino-Radin, Marialaura Ghidini, Oliver Grau, Jon Ippolito, Laura Leuzzi, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Alessandro Ludovico, Dorcas Müller, Stephen Partridge, Domenico Quaranta, Iolanda Ratti, Cosetta G. Saba, Domenico Scudero, Azalea Seratoni, Elaine Shemilt, Gaby Wijers. Già disponibile sul sito dell’editore, lo potrete trovare presto nelle migliori e peggiori librerie.

Sopravvivenza programmata è il tentativo, unico nella sua completezza nell’editoria italiana, di affrontare il nodo cruciale del rapporto “arte e tecnologia” dal punto di vista della conservazione, nella complessità delle sue articolazioni e nel suo sviluppo diacronico. Attraverso contributi ormai classici o redatti per l’occasione, il volume articola le teorie, le etiche e le pratiche della conservazione delle opere d’arte quando applicata a media effimeri, time-based, vincolati a tecnologie soggette a obsolescenza programmata e a infrastrutture dal ritmo evolutivo incessante.

Dall’arte cinetica al video, dall’installazione interattiva alla Net Art, dalle collezioni agli archivi, si sollevano quesiti quali: cosa significa conservare? Chi ne è responsabile? Quali sfide devono affrontare i musei di arte contemporanea? Come si può programmare la durata?

Between Hype Cycles and the Present Shock

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Soon available as part of the Macro Asilo Diario series, Between Hype Cycles and the Present Shock is an excerpt from a longer, unpublished essay born out of a conference I had in Rome in March 2019, wondering if, and how, art can exist in the present time. The longer version includes chapters about net.art’s futurism, post internet’s presentism, precorporation, media obsolescence, artificial intelligence and virtual reality. If you want to read the draft or suggest a publisher, please drop me a line. This shorter version suffers a bit in the last part, but it features one of my favorite chapters, about the end of the future. Hoping it could be a good companion in these days of anxiety and loneliness, I shared it on Academia. Enjoy!

“We know we are living an age that is profoundly different from that in which contemporary art was born: an age of acceleration, present shock, distracted gaze and end of the future. And yet, when it comes to art, we still confront it as if nothing had actually changed.
Rather than providing answers, this essay raises questions such as: is it still possible to make art under these conditions, and to experience art as it should? What’s the price we have to pay for engaging today’s media and the crucial issues of our time, in terms of duration and long term appreciation?”

Sortir du désenchantement du numérique

Exhibitions

Curated by Raffael Dörig, Domenico Quaranta and Fabio Paris
From 13 October 2018 to 19 January 2019

More infoExhibition booklet (French)

After 25 years of the World Wide Web it has become commonplace that our life also happens in digital communication spaces.

But unease spreads in this digital life. While we’re using products by Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and find them useful and indispensable, we’ve become aware of the dominance of such big players. Their services form our thoughts and commodify the ideas of frienship and exchange. We do not surf the wild web anymore, but are fed with feeds, receiving more and more of the same, based on algorithmic extrapolations of our preferences. With the social media account we rent services, which we pay with our data and attention. With Edward Snowden’s disclosures awareness on the excessive government-surveillence and their link to private actors has also reached a broader public.

#noborders

Reading Group

“Rather than being a structured world with borders, for art the net is a border territory. It does not have confines, but rather represents a threshold: a point of encounter and exchange for different situations and cultures. Yet even the net has gradually developed its own filters and points of access, with a series of journals, portals and collections that lend authority to a work or an artist due to the simple fact of having produced it, linked to it or talked about it. […] Yet on the net, unlike in the two highly institutionalized worlds described previously, this credibility is a fragile thing, and there is always the opportunity of commanding the same level of attention as these sites offer (or more), but without going through them. The current dynamics of the Web 2.0, in particular, enable new players to enter rapidly into competition with more established situations. […] One reason for this is that the net lacks various “sanctioning” mechanisms that continue to play an important role in the so-called real world […] surfing the net is basically a private experience, and the socializing it offers is organized in a different way to real life. Reputations are never a given, but constantly have to be earned.”

 

#net.art

Reading Group

“[the internet] elicited growing interest among artists who did not belong to the New Media Art world, and had no connection to its history. Secondly, new generations of artists came onto the scene, artists who would see such a distinction between worlds as pointless, obscure and obsolete. Lastly the internet – not as a medium but as a social setting and public arena – offered itself up as the “art world” for a new “native” artistic practice that is produced, distributed and discussed there: Net Art. Despite its ups and downs, Net Art still represents the main challenge thrown down to the art market on one hand and to New Media Art on the other.”

“right from the very start Net Art stood proudly apart from the two worlds described above, despite having things in common with both. It established itself as a sort of caustic, irreverent end-of-millennium avant-garde, the “novelty” of which lay not in its use of a new medium, but in taking the implicit potential of the information era to extremes, like the avant-garde movements of the Twentieth century did with industrial capitalism. This period did not last long, but Net Art had significant consequences on the artistic use of digital media from then on. It should therefore come as no surprise that Net Art was the first “media art” to arouse the interest of the art world, after the institutionalisation of video and a 40 year long rejection of the “art and new technologies” paradigm.”

Beyond New Media Art

Book

Link Editions is proud to announce the release of “Beyond New Media Art”, by Domenico Quaranta.“Beyond New Media Art” is the revised, updated version of a book first published in Italian with the title “Media, New Media, Postmedia” (Postmedia Books, Milan 2010). Through the circulation of excerpts, reviews and interviews, the book produced some debate outside of Italy, which persuaded the author to release, three years later, this English translation.

“Beyond New Media Art” is an attempt to analyze the current positioning of so-called New Media Art in the wider field of contemporary arts, and to explore the historical, sociological and conceptual reasons for its marginal position and under-recognition in recent art history. On the other hand, this book is also an attempt to suggest new critical and curatorial strategies to turn this marginalization into a thing of the past, and to stress the topicality of art addressing the media and the issues of the information age.

From the book’s preface: “So what is New Media Art? What does this term really describe? And what has occasioned the schism between this term and the art scene it is supposed to describe? And lastly, what accounts for the limited presence in critical debate of an artistic practice that appears to have all the credentials for representing an era in which digital media are powerfully reshaping the political, economic, social and cultural organization of the world we live in?”

Link Editions is a publishing initiative of the Link Center for the Arts of the Information Age. Link Editions uses print on demand and digital formats to create an accessible, dynamic series of essays and pamphlets, but also artist books, catalogues and conference proceedings. A keen advocate of the idea that information wants to be free, Link Editions releases its contents free of charge in .pdf format, and on paper at a price accessible to all. Link Editions is a not-for-profit initiative and all its contents are circulated under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) license.

Firing a new canon?

Book

I worked on this a couple of years ago, but it’s finally out in printed and digital form. Edited by Valerio Terraroli and published by Bompiani / Skira, It’s an art history book meant for the high schools and universities, from cave paintings to… net art. I made research for the second half of the Vol. 5, on contemporary art from the Fifties to the XXI century, and I was able to add some issues that are not usually featured in high school art history manuals.

Lauren Cornell

Quote

“In contemporary art, [the Internet’s] pervasiveness seems often misunderstood or overlooked, While the field of art online continues to thrive, art engaged with the internet does not need to exist there; because the internet is not just a medium, but also a territory populated and fought over by individuals, corporations, and governments; a communications tool; and a cultural catalyst.”

Lauren Cornell, in “Walking Free”, essay published in the online catalogue of the ehibition Free (New Museum, New York, October 20, 2010 – January 23, 2011).