Interview: Carlos Katastrofsky

Agricola de Cologne (AdC) interviews Carlos Katastrofsky (CK)
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Carlos Katastrofsky
(aka. Michael Kargl)
living and working in Austria
artist biography

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Interview: 10 questions—->

AdC:
You belong to an art scene using new technologies, you are an active representative of a genre dealing with Internet based art, called “netart”.
When those artists started who are active since a longer time, the education in New Media was not yet such advanced like nowadays, often they came form different disciplines and had an interdisciplinary approach, those young artists who start now have partially this more advanced education, but rather not much experience in other disciplines.

1.
AdC:
Tell me something about your educational background and what is influencing your work?
CK:
i studied sculpture and discovered netart as a very promising field for my conceptual- based work. influences come (historically seen) from dada and fluxus, personal i would say that i’m trying to process the daily amount of information i get.

2.
AdC:
The term “netart” is widely used for anything posted on the net, there are dozens of definitions which mostly are even contradictory.
How do you define “netart” or if you like the description “Internet based art” better,
CK:
in my opinion:
netart = art that deals with the principles of the net, it’s possibilities and contexts.
internet based art = a broader term. it includes also e.g. works of art that don’t have the NET as an essential part of it.
i like netart better. imho it makes more sense to include the word net or internet (which, of course, isn’t the same) in a term/ description if it is an essential part of it.
AdC:
do you think your work belongs to this specific genre,
CK:
partially, yes.
AdC:
do you think “netart” is art, at all, if yes, what are the criteria?
CK:
hehe… the definition of art is always changing.
AdC:
Are there any aesthetic criteria for an Internet based artwork?
CK:
what is an aesthetic criteria? “aisthesis” is perception. so: yes it has to be aestehtical, otherwise i wouldn’t know that it exists.

3.
AdC:
What kind of meaning have the new technologies and the Internet to you,
are they just tools for expressing your artistic intentions, or have they rather an ideological character, as it can be found with many “netartists”, or what else do they mean to you?
CK:
both. they are a vehicle for expressing intentions, but it’s a decision to use these technologies for specific works. and in this way it’s a kind of ideology.
a point to use them is – to me – their premature character. i try to ask them some questions and see what the answer is… it’s neither the “tools” nor the “ideology” question… it’s somewhere in between, i think.

4.
AdC:
Many “Internet based artists” work on “engaged” themes and subjects, for instance, in social, political, cultural etc concern.
Which contents are you particularly interested in, what are the subjects you are working on and what is your artistic message(s), if you have any, and what are your personal artistic visions for future artworking (if you have any).
CK:
i’m at the moment more interested in social and political concerns in the context of the internet and it’s impacts on the daily life. and in this field are the subjects i’m working on.
my message…. i don’t know if i have a real “message”. can’t say.
i don’t have visions for my work. i try too keep on working, that’s it.

5.
AdC:
“Art on the net” has the advantage and the disadvantage to be located on the virtual space in Internet which defines also its right to exist.
Do you think, that “art based on the Internet”, can be called still like that, even if it is just used offline?
CK:
mmmh… i disagree with your first sentence. “art on the net” doesn’t say – imho – anything about the art. it just says that it’s somehow “on the net”, so it could also be a webpage that just shows scanned drawings. no need for a live net- connection. to me “art based on the internet” is slightly different but doesn’t need the net as an essential part of the presentation either. but both terms are ok if the works are presented offline.

6.
AdC:
Dealing with this new, and interactive type of art demands an active viewer or user.
and needs the audience much more and in different ways than any other art discipline before. How do you stimulate the user to dive into this new world of art?
CK:
i think this is the job of a curator, not mine as an artist. altough, yes, the reality is different. normally people of the net- context have to manage their “exhibitions” (or whatever you want to call it) by themselves.
so, maybe the thing is to give an “exhibition” a kind of “aura”, but it depends on the exhibited works and the concept behind it. sometimes some catchy blink- blink with loud sound and huge presentations will do, sometimes a very spartan and cool athmosphere with just a few screens is more than enough.
AdC:
What do you think, represents an appropriate environment to present net based art to an audience, is it the context of the lonesome user sitting in front of his personal computer, is it any public context, or is it rather the context of art in general or media art in particular, or anything else.?
CK:
again, it depends on the works. if i’m doing an exhibition of e.g. highly political art then a symposium and maybe even workshops could accompany the theme. imho net based art becomes generally more lively when it’s embedded in a public context, not as in the classical art business with separated spaces for the “high”- thing.
but this is a question of politics and leads back to question 4: the interest defines the opinion.
AdC:
If you would be in the position to create an environment for presenting this type of art in physical space, how would you do it?
CK:
as said, it depends on works and concept of the exhibition.

7.
AdC:
As Internet based art, as well as other art forms using new technologies are (globally seen) still not widely accepted, yet, as serious art forms, what do you think could be an appropriate solution to change this situation?
CK:
mmmhhh… don’t know. maybe widspread lobbying?

8.
AdC:
The Internet is called a kind of “democratic” environment, but the conventional art practice is anything else than that, but selective by using filters of different kind.
The audience is mostly only able to make up its mind on second hand. Art on the net might potentially be different. Do you think the current practice of dealing with Internet based art
is such different or rather the described conventional way through (also curatorial) filtering?
CK:
neither is the internet “democratic” (to me) nor do i think that the current situation of internet based art is so much different from the usual way new forms of art have to go. sooner or later it will be fully integrated in the art- market.
AdC:
Do you think, that speaking in the terms of Joseph Beuys, anybody who publishes anything on the net would be also an artist?
CK:
i don’t know much enough about beuys’ statement and how he defines an artist to answer this, sorry.

9.
AdC:
Do you think, the curators dealing with net based art should have any technological knowledge in order to understand such an art work from its roots?
CK:
some knowledge, yes. a “classical” curator also has to know if a painting is in watercolour or in oil, this is essential for it’s understanding. but they haven’t to be artists or programmers by themselves.

10.
AdC:
It is planned, to re-launch
JavaMuseum – Forum for Internet Technology in Contemporary Art
www.javamuseum.org in 2007 in a new context, very likely even in physical space.
What would be your personal wishes and expectations connected to this re-launch ?
CK:
don’t have any…

AdC:
Thanks for taking your time.