Interview: Andrea Polli

Agricola de Cologne (AdC) interviews Andrea Polli (AP)
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Andrea Polli
is a digital media artist living in New York City/NY (USA)
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. Tell me something about your educational background and what is influencing your work?

AP:
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History from Johns Hopkins University and an MFA Degree in ‘Time Arts’ from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). ‘Time Arts’ was a major created for artists whose work was not easily categorized in painting, sculpture, performance, etc. but that dealt with time in some way. When I was there, this included people working in video installation, kinetic sculpture and performance/sculpture/video/film hybrids. The major no longer exists at SAIC and it was said to have been discontinued because the kind of work being done by Time Arts students started to be done across all the disciplines (i.e. video students started doing video installation, performance students started using film and video in performance, sculpture students started working with kinetics and of course Art and Technology (students using computers) expanded into all these areas.

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?
AP:
I define netart as work made to be viewed online/through the network. I make to distinction about content of form, to me it is simply the medium on which the work is shown (like ‘video art’ is art shown using a video player).

ADC:
do you think your work belongs to this specific genre?
AP:
Some of my work does fit this category

AdC:
do you think “netart” is art, at all, if yes, what are the criteria?
AP:
Yes, my criteria for defining art is simply if it is defined as art by the creator or observer. Defining ‘good’ and ‘not good’ art is another story.

AdC:
Are there any aesthetic criteria for an Internet based artwork?
AP:
I think there are as many kinds of aesthetic criteria for netart as there are aesthetic criteria for any other form of art, and the criteria is evolving.

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?
AP:
I suppose the ‘free’ aspects of the net (as in free speech and as in free beer) have meaning for some netartists, but not all, and throughout its evolution the freedom of the net has been affected market and political forces. I think a particular meaning associated with a work of art being netart or not will disappear as the net becomes more a part of the everyday landscape. In other words, artists using photography may have created work which has meaning based on the nature of the technology when photography was young, but now photographs are so ubiquitous that photographic art doesn’t necessarily address the medium.

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).
AP:
I am interested in global systems, the real time interconnectivity of these systems, and the effect of these systems on the individual/local.

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?
AP:
Offline works are not netart. However, I believe that any works that connect more than one computer (intranets, works for internet 2, local networks, etc.) can be called netart.

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?
AP:
There are many considerations, for example on average viewers only spend 8 seconds on a website. On a basic level, there must be some kind of reward to the viewer for interacting (an expansion of visual or other content for example)

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.?
AP:
Any context where computers or other devices that access networked information is appropriate. I do not think it is appropriate to show netart recorded onto video or as prints, however.

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?
AP:
It depends on the work.

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?
AP:
Recognise netart more at well known art venues and festivals, museums, festivals like documenta and various biennales.

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?
Do you think, that speaking in the terms of Joseph Beuys, anybody who publishes anything on the net would be also an artist?
AP:
I do not think the internet is democratic. I think there are clear hierarchies. Despite work potentially being seen by anyone, in actuality the work is only seen by the art world or in an art context through online museum, festival, well known blogs, etc. I don’t think this is a negative thing, however.

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?
AP:
Yes.

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 ?
AP:
My wish would be that each work would have a dedicated kiosk, at least for a certain amount of time.

AdC:
Thank you very much for taking time!