Interview: Letizia Jaccheri

Agricola de Cologne (AdC) interviews Letizia Jaccheri (LJ)
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Letizia Jaccheri
is professor in Software Engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Computer and Information Science.

More biographical info

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Interview: 10 questions-

1.
AdC:
Since a reasonable time, digital media entered the field of art and extended the traditional definition of art through some new , but essential components.
Do you think it is like that and if yes, tell me more about these components and how they changed the perception of art?
LJ:
Yes, digital media entered the field of art. being a computer scientist I do not feel strong to discuss the definition of art. What I can and want to say is that computers have entered museums and exhibitions, that art has entered into computers and is spread by means of the internet and the WEB. Computer scientists like me are in dialog with artists.

2.
AdC:
A really relevant section of digital art represents Internet based art. The Internet was hardly existing, but artists conquered already this new field for their artistic activities.
Can the work of these early artists be compared with those who work with advanced technologies nowadays? What changed until these days ? What might be the perspectives for future developments?
LJ:
I think that yes, the work of these artists can be compared with the work of those that work with technologies now. It is important that IT people look at the work of artists to get inspiration of how to use advanced technologies. When my town (Trondheim, Norway) will become connected to the internet via a wireless network that will connect the whole center of the town, how are we going to exploit this? IT people take their laptops to cafe´s and journalists take pictures of them, but this is not enough. It is almost negative exploitation of technology as I do not want to go to cafe to see people who work as in the office. We need to look at the work of artists to get ideas of how to interact with technology.

3.
AdC:
The education in the field of New Media art , including Internet based art, started late compared with the general speed of technological development and acceptance.
So, generations of artists who used the Internet as their artistic working field were not educated in this new discipline(s) and technologies, but had rather an interdisciplinary approach.
What Do you think, would be the best way to teach young people how to deal with the Internet as an environment of art?
LJ:
I teach a multidisciplinary course in art&IT. This is a project course in which studentes from different study programs can participate. The best way is to let art (and music and in general not IT) students to work together with IT students.

4.
AdC:
Tell me something about your personal and professional relation to New Media and Internet based art.
What kind of meaning have the new technologies and the Internet to you,
are they just tools for expressing 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?
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, personally and from an art critical point of view.
LJ:
I am a computer scientist, teacher, and researcher. I started to study computer science in the early 80´s and I was not aware of computer art until late 90´s when I saw the first exhibitions in Torino (Castello di Rivoli) that involved computers. When web art exploded at the beginning of this century and finally when I had the possibility to start teaching and making research on the field of art and software, I have started reflecting about new technologies and the Internet in a different way. First, artists contribute to pose critical questions about technology. Is all technology development positive? Which kind of choices do we have when dealing with technology acquisition? Does technology discriminate? Here I am interested in open source software as a possible medium to make technology more democratic.

5.
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,
do you think your work belongs to this specific genre,
do you think “netart” is art, at all, if yes, what are the criteria?
Are there any aesthetic criteria for an Internet based artwork?

“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?
LJ:
Again I do not feel authorized to give definitions about art and aesthetic criteria. I believe that if an artists define his work as art and if the community accepts it as art, so it is art. The process is also very important in new media art, as well as the resulting product.

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 think would be good ways to stimulate the user to dive into this new world of art?

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.?

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?
LJ:
If we manage to give good answers to these questions, so we will have good ideas about how to exploit new media for commercial and social goals too. I guess that the computer must change its form and format when it meets art. Many computers that become small and are integrated in different kind of materials are examples I foresee. Music and text and animation are mixed together and are consumed on different kinds of devices. Games and learning become important and loose the boundaries between each others.

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?
LJ:
Changes must come top down from Research councils, administrations, and museums that will have to support net based artists and bottom up from people who will eventually be more interested in interacting with these artistic processes. Here attention must be devoted to children, old people, disabled, etc.

8.
AdC:
The Internet is sometimes 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?
Do you think, that speaking in the terms of Joseph Beuys, anybody who publishes anything on the net would be also an artist?
LJ:
No, anybody will not become an artist. But this is difficult to explain to my students for example who write programs and assert they make art without engaging them selv in discussion with artists. This happens in student groups in which art students (or music) are not present or may be not strong enough.

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?
LJ:
Not necessarily but they must be able to engage in dialog with those who have such knowledge. I have often be at exhibitions and asked questions like “but does this software work?” or “is this system which is declared to react to something happening on the internet really connected to the internet?”. While the technical answers may not be interesting it is important that these questions enter exhibitions and for a were internet art is dicussed.

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 ?
LJ:
I could offer my help and my students help to address technical problems and engage in discussions at the intersection between software and art. I would be interested to be part of the audience.

AdC:
Thanks for taking your time.