Survey: Salvatore Iaconesi

Salvator Iaconesi

  • artist biography
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    10 questions – 10 answers
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    1.
    Question:
    Since a reasonable time, digital media entered the field of art and extended the traditional definition of art through some new , but very 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?
    Answer:
    Art is a 2-headed Janus.
    The “conceptual” side of art happily extended its outreach to various digital media: technology is an incredible tool for expression, allowing to span from the deeply abstract to the extremely material.
    The “aesthetic” side of art is different, and a different analisys should be performed for the various disciplines.
    The focus here is on the difference that goes between what we “classically” call “Art” and what we still call communication.
    The populistic trend is to compare things: (something that resembles) painting done through digital media, (something that resembles) sculpture performed using digital tools, (something that resembles) photography … etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
    DJ (and, later, VJ) culture, while being incredibly useful in definig some of the new areas in which artists can operate by digital media and in showing them to the general public, thus helping the people’s digital sensibility to evolve, represent a majo r drawback in this aspect: everything gets categoriezed too much, and little attention is left to “the concept”.
    Hacker culture did a lot more, in this sense: little or nothing is aesthetic there (or, better, it has a *new* appearance), and almost all is left to “the concept” itself. The “hidden world” comes to life.
    And, talking about “life”, the trend is starting to shape itself: first digital, now post_human … we probabily will have to wait until the “not_human” instances of digital art (“not_human” disciplines?) to acheive something that really makes a statement.

    2.
    Question:
    A 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?
    Answer:
    Artists and Artisans.
    This is a *big* matter of discussion, even if you are not talking about digital art disciplines.
    The idea that a digital artist is an Artisan, in his/hers/its own peculiar way is something that evades people’s perception, if you are lucky. Even if they objectively understand it as a concept, something just doesn’t sound right to them.
    And this is the essence of the question: where is the difference that runs between an artist that experiments with, let’s say, pigments and materials, and another one that uses technology?
    As artisans throughout history, digital artists are experiencing evolution of tools and techniques.
    Tools are becoming more human_friendly (just look at the incredible Processing project and the incredible help it represents for artists wanting to experiment in software art: digital art will highly benefit from such marvels of collaboration and sharing) and less expensive (can you spend 20 dollars per year? If you can you will have all the internet infrastructure you need for your works..).
    The road is still uphill, though: there are areas which are, still, only available for subjects that are specifically trained, and with lots of money.
    Take robotics, as an example: designing, producing and making robots work is a costly process and requires lots of training which has little to do with art.
    But we need to take a step back: to fully understand where digital artists are coming from, and where they are heading to, we must not focus on the “tools” being used.
    Digital art is not about technology. It’s about “the concept”.
    It’s about breaking free from the limits of humanity, of the tangible world, of society.
    Is there a difference if I do it using a text editor or if I do it using the most complex satellite network in the universe?

    3.
    Question:
    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?
    Answer:
    I don’t think there is a best way. Or, better, the best way is culture, but I wouldn’t limit myself in saying that it is instrumental to art.
    Art must be expression. Expression comes from the self. The self is not self-contained, as it owes a lot to the environment that surrounds it.
    Technology is in the environment: some more accepted and integrated in our daily life, some less.
    The “academic” way is useful only if it helps to free people from the boundaries imposed by limited culture and limited knowledge.
    Too often the “academic” way doesn’t have this objective.
    Nowadays culture and knowledge is a fetish for the few, not something for the people.

    4.
    Question:
    What kind of meaning have the new technologies and the Internet to you in concern of art, 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 artcritical point of view.
    Answer:
    I come from an environment which was politically aware/active in many ways. I personally don’t use politics, social and cultural subjects “on purpose”. But they are part of me, so it’s just natural that they emerge when I work.
    I am not a media/digital/whatever activist.
    I tend to show things (or, at least, I try to), even in very “distant” ways: for example, by defining “humanity” by removing it, and by substituting artificial life to it.

    5.
    Question:
    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 “netart” is art, at all, if yes, what are the criteria?
    Are there any aesthetic criteria for an Internet based artwork?
    Answer:
    Again: in my point of view aesthetics are in the concept, more than in the representation itself.
    Definitions?
    Definitions last too little time. Some kind of definitions, anyway.
    “netart” is one of them: it makes sense now, delimiting a domain of practices and concepts, but if you ask me again tomorrow the domain will probabily change.
    Can I give an answer each day?

    6.
    Question“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?
    Answer:
    :)
    Smileys apart: internet is not a place. Technology is not a place. Communication is not a place.
    They all are concepts or sets of concepts. They all have the dignity of existence even if I destroy every single ounce of silicon in the world.
    I don’t believe in art in galleries or, at least, I believe in it only if there’s some money coming from it for me. :)
    In the same way I love expression, so I also don’t believe in art that only I know of.
    Internet is not a place, but it is an environment. And it’s a very convenient environment to *do things*.
    The question is on the reason for this convenience. And the reason lies in paradigms. In the protocols through which we communicate.
    We communicate verbally, visually, sexually and in the “technological” ways by using protocols.
    We’re talking about high-level communication protocols: not bits and bytes, but protocols that describe the “shape, content and direction(s)” of our communicating.
    The Interne t provides such protocols: we are currently re-definig them by adding new ideas, techniques and technologies.
    So “Art based on the Internet” makes perfect sense if you mean it in terms of the high-level protocols just defined, even if there is no network to be found anywhere around the work.

    7.
    Question:
    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?
    Answer:
    Playfulness will be a key factor until the “next step” in our conceptual evolution as humans.
    We can learn and/or understand a lot more through play than through watching or listening or touching stuff: be it in our home, in a gallery, in a public space, at school…
    When the next step eventually comes the dynamics will have changed, and answering this question won’t make sense anymore.

    8.
    Question:
    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?
    Answer:
    A series of nuclear bombs, levelling everything up, and starting from scratch using muds, stones and powders to make colors.
    .. or by not caring a single bit and continuing our evolution until something changes.
    Because it will change. Naturally. In time.

    9.
    Question:
    The Internet is sometimes called a kind of “democratic” environment,
    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 ww+ith 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?
    Answer:
    Again: the difference runs between aesthetics and concept.
    The internet is *not* democratic. It is *could* be, but it isn’t.
    I don’t believe that some beautiful sites only have 10 hits a day and that some awful ones get millions because the “democratic” people of the net “prefer” the latter.
    Information is not democratic. Neither it is its content.
    While internet’s logical architecture is deeply democratic, the physical implementation isn’t.
    In the real-world internet democracy is a matter of “tricking people into democratically knowing about what you do and how/where you do it”.
    Unless your name is Mr. Sony (or whatever) and, thus, you have the money and infrastructure to advertise, publish, mantain, buy/sell….
    So internet is not far from the rest of reality itself. And it perfectly suits Art in the “real” world.

    10.
    Question:
    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? And what about the users of Internet based art?
    Answer:
    That is a *big* point.
    I think they both should have cultural backgrounds on technology. But more for social/political reasons than to be able to access the art works. For the rest of the matter: I wouldn’t want someone not being able to experience a work just because they don’t know how to handle
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