Interview: DLSAN

Agricola de Cologne (AdC) interviews DLSAN (D)
Matteo Santoni
a.k.a. dlsan – Verona (Italy)

artist biography

10 questions—>

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.

Tell me something about your educational background and what is influencing your work?
In 1987 I got a diploma in Information Technology (IT), while in 1992, I got a diploma in Comic Strip drawing and Screenplay taking a 3-years evening course. In 1990, after the military service, I started working in IT until 2001, when I approached the web through a consulting job for IBM. Thanks to this first approached and during my spare time (mainly during night time!) I created Kid Koma – I am currently working on my own as web designer:

Mi sono diplomato in Informatica [IT – information technology ] nel 1987. Ho iniziato a lavorare nell’IT nel 1990 dopo il servizio militare. Nel 1992 ho conseguito anche il Diploma in Fumetto e Sceneggiatura dopo 3 anni di corso serale. Non potendo cambiare lavoro per mancanza di opportunità economiche ho continuato a lavorare nell’IT fino al 2001 quando sono approdato al web per lavoro (come consulente in IBM). Dopo questo primo approccio ho costruito Kid Koma – – nel tempo libero durante la notte. Ora lavoro in proprio come web designer : .

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?
I think is useless and quite annoying to discuss on what is art and what is not: the best moneymaking for art critics.
It is an ancient and unresolved matter: someone sees an art work and thinks is oly a silly thing, someone else sees the same art work and thinks is brilliant, therefore my question is: where is the art?
In Italy we have a millenary tradition of masterpieces and most of them were commissioned by the Vatican: is this art or simply “design”?
Everything can be criticisable.
At the very end, I believe that by committing ourselves to find a free kind of communication is art.

Penso sia inutile e noioso discutere se qualcosa è arte e qualcos’altro no : la via migliore per riempire le tasche dei critici.
Un’antica questione irrisolta:
qualcuno vede una cosa e dice “questo è stupido”, qualcun altro vede la stessa cosa e dice “mi piace questa forma d’arte”… Quindi: dov’è l’arte?
In Italia abbiamo secoli di capolavori artistici ma la gente non pensa che molti di questi furono “commissionati” dall’antico Regno del Vaticano: e allora questa è “arte” o solo “design”? Tutto è criticabile …
Alla fine, credo che impegnarsi a ricercare una forma libera di comunicazione sia arte.

Are there any aesthetic criteria for an Internet based artwork?
Only limited by the media/support (i.e. browser), but free as for all kinds of Art.

Solo limitatamente al supporto o media (il browser), ma liberi come in tutte le altre forme d’arte.

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?
Internet gives everyone a basic cheap possibility to express ideas without incurring in editors or gallery managers. It is changing a lot our perception of nation, territory and borders … for example – last month – I have been contacted by a US photographer who had asked me to develop his web site. Two type of arts from two different countries met: web design and B/W images.
Having taking drama classes I can also say that the typical approaches among artists are full of clichés and the artistic environment is not so collaborative like others I have experienced (IT, web design).
I am pretty sure I have found in Internet the best way of expressing myself, as I believe that without it, I would have never been reviewed as programmer.

Internet concede a chiunque di avere una possibilità di base molto economica per esprimere le proprie idee senza sottostare o pagare un editore o gallerista. Sta cambiando molto la nostra percezione di nazione, territorio e confini… Quando per esempio – il mese scorso – ho ricevuto incarico tramite email di sviluppare il sito di un Fotografo Statunitense si capisce bene quanto stia cambiando il web: 2 tipi di arte – web-design e sviluppo Bianco e Nero – in 2 differenti paesi….
Ho studiato anche teatro e posso dire che i classici approcci tra artisti sono pieni di “cliche” e lo stesso ambiente artistico non è così collaborativo come altri in cui ho lavorato per esempio IT o il web-design.
Sono certo: ho trovato in internet la mia via ottimale di espressione, senza di essa non credo sarei stato recensito come programmatore.

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).
Political and social issues whenever possible, as for the other kind of arts I dabble (i.e. drama and photography. An “artist” (but I prefer claiming myself as “creative”) expresses his/her vision of reality outside the actual conformist rules. It is very difficult to be claimed as “artist” during the lifetime, it is easier after the “artist” in question is passed away and is worked can be re-valued without social prejudices.
At this time, I am very busy with web design (seven days a week), therefore I have not much time for the Net-Art lately, because I need to sustain myself and I believe that for now, it is a good compromise: I have never made money through Net-Art, although I have been reviewed by Wired, El-Pais e RAI Online International, but I really enjoy it whenever I have the possibility of expressing an idea, a concept in a simple Net-Art page, especially when I notice that people cannot clearly see what is around them: internet is today the real domain of free-speech, as other Italian media cannot allow that (too compromised by economical reasons)

Politico e sociale, quando posso. Come in altre arti che mi diletto quali teatro e fotografia.
Un “artista” ( preferisco definirmi solo un “creativo”) esprime la sua visione della realtà in canoni fuori di conformismi del tempo in cui vive, è difficile essere artisti da vivi, più facile da morti.
In questo momento sono molto impegnato nel web-design (7 giorni a settimana), quindi non ho molto tempo per la Net-Art, perché devo campare e questo per il momento è un buon compromesso : non ho mai guadagnato un solo centesimo dalla Net-Art nonostante sia stato recensito da Wired, El-Pais e RAI Ondine International.
Ma mi diverte molto appena riesco ad esprimere un concetto in una semplice pagina di Net-Art specialmente quando noto la gente non vedere chiaramente la realtà che li circonda: internet è ad oggi il vero dominio della libertà di parola, come altri media in Italia non concedono (più compromessi da motivi economici).

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?
A picture of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, is not the Mona Lisa, but simply its picture. Media is essential for art, especially for its growing and development. However, the copy of the Mona Lisa with moustache is a great masterpiece by Duchamp.

Una foto della Gioconda di Leonardo non è la Gioconda ma “la foto della Gioconda”. Il media è essenziale all’arte, specialmente per la sua nascita e sviluppo. In ogni caso la copia della Gioconda coi baffi è un grande capolavoro di Duchamp.

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?
I hope they will be curious , as every art audience should be … I’d like to give the impression of visiting an imaginary and infinite space (still under construction)

Mi auguro che siano “curiosi”, come ogni pubblico d’arte dovrebbe essere… cercherei di dare l’impressione di visitare uno spazio immaginario infinito (sempre in costruzione)

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.?
It is very difficult to bring the web into a public context: usually is very boring. The experience of internet is an interactive and intimate experience shared in that exact moment with someone else’s intimacy.

E’ molto difficile riportare il web in un contesto pubblico: generalmente noioso. L’esperienza di internet è un’esperienza interattiva ed intima condivisa nello stesso momento con l’intimità altrui.

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?
Dark rooms, where people can move without seeing other than monitors (maybe 10 big LCD hanged as pictures on the wall) and any of them with its own console. People can watch themselves interacting and alternating.

Sale buie, dove la gente possa muoversi senza vedere altro che dei monitors ( magari 10 grandi LCD sulle pareti come quadri) ciascuno munito di console. Il pubblico può guardare gli altri interagire e interagire a proprio turno alternandosi.

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?
I don’t know, maybe with time, maybe as a media it will still evolve a lot … maybe we are just primitive graffitis painters … (but prehistorical graffitis are a form of art anyway) .
I see practical solutions only through the collusion with other kinds of art and communication such as web-desing, video, wirting (also hypertext), music, photography, architecture(?), drama(?), dance(?).
I don’t see a way to make money with Net-Art and many people like only things that are very expenses other than unique….

Non saprei, magari col tempo, magari come media deve cambiare ancora molto… magari siamo solo pittori di graffiti primitivi … (ma i graffiti preistorici sono arte comunque).
Io vedo soluzioni pratiche solo attraverso la collusione con altre forme di comunicazione/arte quali: web-design, video, scrittura (anche ipertesto), musica, fotografia, teatro(?), architettura(?), danza(?).
Non vedo una soluzione pratica per guadagnare con la Net-Art e molta gente apprezza solo le cose di valore (economicamente care)…

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?
Do you think, that speaking in the terms of Joseph Beuys, anybody who publishes anything on the net would be also an artist?
Personally, I don’t know him, but if someone thinks to have done something creative and artistic, why not? Freedom is an essential tool of art … and it depends much on the commitment and effort is put in it. But if we have to wait for a critic or an editor to say that, then it means that at the very end, Internet is not so democratic and politically-correct as it should be. After all, I am considered and known as a Net-Artist even thanks to what journalists say about me …
Many people think I simply play when I sit in front of a PC, but of course it is not truly so: I work hard (not getting the money I should get paid for my effort … but ok, I have learned to be patient) … and maybe I worked harder when I was doing only Net-Art.

Non lo conosco, ma se qualcuno crede di aver fatto qualcosa di artistico e creativo perchè no?
La libertà è essenziale per l’arte … dipende molto anche dall’impegno comunque….
Se però dobbiamo aspettare un critico o un editore che dica questo allora significa che Internet non è così democratica come dovrebbe, alla fine…
Dopotutto io sono chiamato “Net-Artista” e conosciuto come tale anche grazie a quello che dicono i giornalisti….
Molta gente crede che io giochi solamente quando siedo di fronte a un computer. Ma non è propriamente vero: io lavoro, e molto (non quanto i soldi dovrei essere pagato ma … ok: ho imparato ad aver pazienza … ) … e forse lavoravo ancor di più quando facevo solo net-art invece del web-design….

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?
It could be useful to organize artists’ works, even just to know their background, language and related problems, as any good Project Manager should do. But it is not necessary: sensitivity to art is not only due to education and being able to see behind things could be of extreme help and innovative, if coming from open minded people. It is also necessary though for all artists to find a way of being understood if they do not want to die unappreciated….

Potrebbe essere utile per organizzare i lavori degli artisti, anche solo per conoscere il loro background, linguaggio tecnico e relativi problemi, come ogni buon Project Manager dovrebbe.
Ma non è necessario: la sensibilità di fronte all’arte non è solo dovuta all’educazione.
E vedere fuori dagli schemi può essere di notevole aiuto e innovativo, se proviene da individui di mentalità aperta.
E’ però anche necessario agli artisti stessi trovare una via per essere compresi se non vogliono morire incompresi….

It is planned, to re-launch
JavaMuseum – Forum for Internet Technology in Contemporary Art 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 ?
It is hard to merge all the different personal expectations ….
The first thought is my best wishes for a successful re-launch, I really appreciate your enthusiasm, it is a necessary attitude in such difficult environment. I hope I have been able to help you somehow with your project.

E’ dura metter insieme le diverse aspettative personali ….
Il primo pensiero sono i miei migliori auguri per il successo dell’impresa, apprezzo molto il tuo entusiasmo, è molto utile in realtà così difficili. Spero di essere stato di qualsiasi aiuto per i tuoi progetti.

Thanks for taking your time.