a r t n e t w e b
CONCEPT: Present the flux of digital culture
in the networked environment of the Internet
as a two month exhibition at the List
Visual Arts Center at MIT.
Ebon Fisher feels the solution is still too decorative and concerned with "art" protocols and stresses that the goal of PORT is to come up with solutions to the gallery-as-interface question rather than "conceptual" substitutes (he uses Kosuth as an example of the latter). "AS A RADICAL, POST-POST-MODERN act we need to simply step beyond representational quandaries here and viscerally engage in a 4-screen dialogue. Let the medium speak for itself."
Daniel Georges responds:
The problem with the gallery interface for on-line performance is that the ergo design which enables the equipment to function as vehicle IS ITSELF A POWERFUL SCULPTURE communicating individuation and decentralization rather than a message of jamming communication generating a nexus creative space in the gallery. Mapping or in some other way allowing the developments of the exhibition to affect the space with traces, gestures, landmarks or personal momentos so that visitors feel the cummulative force of performances and events seems to me crucial to producing an ambient viral stimulation in the casual visitor.
And John Hopkins wrote:
"Loss of the sensual Presence that informs a dialogue can diminish the energy flow inherent in this essential human activity."
Meanwhile, Julian Bielicki writes about the continuing saga of PORT:
My God, how many words are you all able to produce...
words, words, nothing but words...
___ \\|// (o o) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOOo~(_)~oOOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
STATE O' PORT 1/9/97
Now that the holidays are over and I've had a week to recuperate I will do as I promised and keep you posted as to how PORT is progressing.
Remo Campopiano will be heading up to the MIT List Center this coming Monday (1/13/97) to work on the installation. The crew there has already started by drilling the holes in the walls for the "grid" that will extend from the walls and be our "bulletin board". Material from this listserv and other internet sources will be printed out and posted there during the two months of the exhibition.
Remo will be on site the whole two months acting as the facilitating link between the exhibition and the visitors to the gallery. I'm going up a few days before the opening and will probably be there the first week but then I'll be back in New York keeping the listserv and Web site going and generally being the online link.
The four projectors we need have been obtained and we'll have the Pentiums any day now. The frames for the screens and the stands for the computers are in production and should be ready soon.
Our list of remote participants is growing. You can see what's in store by going to the Participants list at http://artnetweb.com/port/participants/. The list is still under construction and I should have all the information pages for the participants done in a few days. Things will be flexible though and changes are expected to be made during the exhibition when they seem to make sense.
I'm also working on the remote resources pages that will give details about what software you need and where to get it. Not as easy as I thought but I should have it complete by the weekend.
I'm planning to redesign the entry page for the Web site so that daily events and how to access them will be the first thing you see. That WILL be completed by the time of the opening.
I'll be posting more information every day or so under the STATE O' PORT subject line. If you have questions please post them to the list or send them to me and I'll do my best to give you an answer.
STATE O' PORT 1/13/97
GH and I put Remo on a bus to Boston this morning where he will be living out of a suitcase for the next three months and performing his Remo routine in the List Center gallery. There will be direct phone lines to the gallery soon but for now you have to call the main MIT number and tell the operator that you want the List Visual Arts Center (617-253-4400). Remo's email is the same (firstname.lastname@example.org).
For a view of the List Center gallery space Marek has created what he promises is the last version at:
For the VRML version go to:
The reception on Friday went very well but I'm very sorry for the confusion about the date. Friday night was a two-hour reception for all three exhibits -- Joseph Kosuth: Re-defining the Context of Art, 1968-1997; Jill Reynolds: The Shape of Breath; and PORT: Navigating Digital Culture. The official opening day of the exhibits was Saturday.
There was a good crowd and most of the people seemed to gravitate to the PORT site to watch the performances and generally hang out. Believe it or not the technology all worked (well, most of it) and that was thanks mainly to the hard work technical expertise of the volunteers who put in so many hours: Sandy Bendremer, Jesse Gilbert, Mike Mittelman, Hal Ohrbach, Mark H. James, Hal Eagar, Quimetta Pearl, Janet Goldner, Charlene Scanlan, Carmin Karasic, Sara Sun, Josh Race, Sasha Costanza-Chock, Jon Schull, Stephan Ramano and Jack Weisberg.
The List Gallery space turned out to be very simple and functional. Four screens hanging from the ceiling face off in the center with computers beneath them and projections from behind. Whatever is on the computer screen is projected above so that the "performance" takes place in the round.
During the opening reception there were four different performances: Ebon Fisher's "Wailing in the AlulA Dimension" from his studio in Brooklyn; GH Hovagimyan's "ArtDirt Im-Port" from Aix-en-Provence (both using CU-SeeMe); Lawrence Weiner and ada'web's "Homeport" Palace site and Sawad Brook's "Prosthesis To A Well" Java-based navigation interface (links to information about these and the other projects may be found on the PORT Web site: http://artnetweb.com/port/participants/bookmarks.html).
On Saturday we projected four video streams from ParkBench and the creators, Emily Hartzell and Nina Sobell, were present. Future ParkBench performances will be live from their studio in New York where they are involved in exploring the links between analog and digital artmaking.
On Sunday Marek Walczak's "Maps, Marks, Dance" was projected throughout the afternoon and visitors to the gallery (and on the Internet) met in the Black Sun VRML Cyberhub.
During the times when an event wasn't scheduled we experimented with ways to project web sites and other works and talked to visitors to the gallery about what we're doing. Along with the online events we're also creating a various mappings of PORT on the walls of the gallery and will be experimenting with ways to collaborate through Daniel Georges' "Mapping Project" scheduled for Wednesdays.
A reporter from the Boston Globe spent the whole two hours Friday night asking questions of the people here and there was an article in the local Cambridge Chronicle with TWO pictures of Remo.
Remo and I are staying with a wonderful couple, Jerry and Phyllis Ingersoll, who seem to enjoy having a never-ending flow of people going through their home. We watched the Super Bowl last night and tried to figure out why Green Bay Wisconson has a pro football team.
ART DIRT IM-PORT
1:00 - 3:00 pm EST
We had difficulty accessing the live RealAudio feed from the Pseudo studios in New York because the Netscape plug-in kept using an old one held in the cache. Cleared the cache and it worked though the sound quality wasn't great. We don't think it was a problem on our end because we've accessed other audio files with much better sound quality. Check to see if Pseudo has 3.0 installed.
CU-SeeMe came through from France and Germany. The Pseudo Chat worked very well but except for someone called Oedipa it wasn't used. Oedipa eventually went over to the CU-SeeMe chat.
Carmin, one of the local Boston people who has volunteered to help, recognized the CU-SeeMe window from Leipzig as video artist Paul Sermon who she has been trying to contact for a long time but had lost his email address.
Pseudo used Look@Me software that allowed us to view their desktop on our monitors. Since they were accessing the same CU-SeeMe windows as we were we had two different versions projected at the same time. One we could manipulate, one that could only be manipulated by someone else in a remote location. Interesting possibilities the only problem being that the Look@Me software is point-to-point and doesn't allow (from what I've been told) multiple access. You can look at another's desktop and they can look at yours but no one else can. I'd like to find a way to make this kind of software more networked.
Sound seems much more object-like to me since it is in the form of a file like an image or text. These files are moved in the same way (by the mouse or keyboard commands). The Zapatista sound performance was isolated from the image of an actor in a gasmask reading the script. These two "objects" could be "moved around" both on our computers and remotely.
2:00 - 4:00 pm EST
This worked remarkably well in the gallery though I have the same reservations about using the Look@Me software as the primary way of creating images to be projected. Floating Point's obsessions and themes floated through the space from screen to screen and from image to text. I particularly liked it when one of their Mac's bombed and the conversation in the chat window responded by incorporating it into the the narrative. When we disconnected I had the feeling that this event kept on going like an energizer bunny without organs.
12:00 - 2:00 pm EST
Form comes up on the Web site where you can enter five words that changes the text elsewhere on the page. There are hidden rules for how this is done not available to those viewing the piece, which some may find frustrating along with the general slowness of the piece in general. It's entirely text-based but at the same time has a visual aspect that, if given time and thought, is fascinating.
I put the same Web page up on three of the screens and information about the work on the fourth. After it was over Noah suggested we create a new browser window for each of the frames so that the viewer in the gallery is "inside" the web site when standing in the middle of the screen.
When a viewer is standing in the middle of the space it is impossible to interact with the piece but if you are sitting at the computer you can't "enter" the environment of the piece. This is a problem with any of the interactive projects and a defect of the design but I can't imagine right now how to overcome this without having some sort of portable input device for people standing in the middle of the screens.
2:00 - 4:00 pm EST
A test run of John Hopkins' IRC project. Willa (www.willa.com) is there and I put the IRC on all four of the screen, changing the typeface for each. On one I choose "symbol" which turns the text into something like greek.
John will chat with a different person each week. There is the possibility of others joining in but John says he may lock out interlopers, maybe not. We'll have to see. These are private conversations made public, blown up large. It is in the spirit of my statement that people would be interested in watching Laurie Anderson do her email (and I've found people are interested in watching me do my email in the gallery).
This is one of the simplest technology we're using in PORT and, to me, one of the most important. It was the availability of easily chatting with other users around the world that grew the Internet. It is more immediate than email and not as flexible (or complicated) as a MOO. Everything depends on the quality of the conversation of the participants in the dialogue. John will capture the text and make them available online at some point.
1:00 - 3:00 pm EST
RealAudio working well, 2 desktops with CU-SeeMe on one, Look@Me on the other, 1 chat, 1 web page from Prema Murthy's site about DNA.
Beautiful voices float -- a dialogue of sorts between the chat window and the audio. What is in the chat is filtered through text to speech at the point of origin, put through reverb then broadcast back into the space. There is a lag between what is written and what is spoken but the link starts to become apparent while standing in the middle of the screens.
Nice mixing of images on the desktop. Black and white with bursts of color from DNA models. A topless female dances on the CU-SeeMe.
"gazing along the lines of the matrix I can transfer language in a code defined from graphs of material thresholds. I embark upon samples of gazes from all time zones"
"awash in the space"
3:00 - 5:00 pm EST
2 CU-SeeMe screens, 1 Web page with meta refresh, 1 MOO (previous Pangloss scripts), RealAudio
Pangloss and musElanor are wearing costumes and talking. Religious music and images in the background.
Difficult to comprehend what is going on. We eventually have the two CU-SeeMe windows facing each other one to a screen. The MOO isn't working so the image is static. There is suppose to be an old script scrolling.
While talking to Carmin in the middle of the screens she stops our conversation to say "that's true" to something that has been said over the audio.
Adrianne uses religious images as material for her art with little or no regard as to their religious meaning. Since she is a muse she is above that sort of meaning, or she becomes the author of their new meaning. She does the same with language, using it to construct text-pictures irregardless of their literal meaning. That is something that should be made more apparent to the viewer in some way so that they don't attempt to comprehend and get frustrated. It is scripted stream of consciousness.
A saxaphone plays in the background.
5:00 - 6:00 pm EST
Two screens with Web page and link to RealAudio stream and volume control, two Web pages using a java script to refesh pages of text by Brenda Nielson.
Only one audio stream came through and I turned it up loud to fill the space. Text flashed by on each screen with one a few minutes behind the other. The sense of turbulence very palpable since the audio entered the body of the viewer. The narrative of the text was difficult to follow and I suggested to Helen she might want it printed out for people to read. She agreed.
So far my favorite presentation even if it was incomplete. Used the space very well. Much like Ebon Fisher's "Wailing in the AuluA Dimension" at the opening. it bacame a very complex object in the space even though the means were simple. Only interactivity possible is the volume control on the web page and I would encourage Helen to think about some way to include participation, perhaps recording voices of gallery visitors to use in the next improvisation.
a r t n e t w e b