Randy Adams aka runran
Interview: 10 questions
answers by 2 remix members (babel & runran)
1. Tell me something about your educational background and what is influencing
My education was in Economics and Social and Political Sciences at Cambridge
University. I was never ‘officially’ trained in digital design or art, but this
side of my education began at age 11 when I received my first computer, a ZX
I am a self-taught writer and media artist. I worked with traditional media
(texts, photography and mixed media) for several years before turning to
digtial media. I have always been influenced by regional and world events,
historical and contemporary, that point to commonalities in the human
2. 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?
Babel:‘Netart’ can be used to mean simply art that resides on the internet, but for me
the term is more useful when it means art that requires the internet to
function. Most of my work matches the first definition, but only some of it
matches the second.
Yes, I certainly believe Netart is an ‘art’, and so its aesthetic criteria are
largely the same as for any other art. It might have additional criteria, such
as how the art can exist in a ‘live’ form in multiple spaces simultaneously.
But perhaps there shouldn’t be any criteria, just a simple definition as a way
to frame our discussions… maybe we should ask who these aesthetic criteria
serve – artists, audiences, academics, curators, critics, institutions?
My art practice is as free of labels as I can manage. I publish digital media on
the net, but am also developing a cemetery from found bojects in my backyard,
occassionaly do work as a live VJ, and work with spoken word. I entirely agree
with babel – net.art’s “aesthetic criteria are largely the same as for any
3. 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?
For me, the Internet offers new ways to create and distribute artistic work. But
it also acts in many other ways across a wide range of activities, so its
meaning is very dependent on the specific ‘piece’ of the Internet we are
talking about. I don’t think any technology has a single or predominant
ideological character – they are much more schizophrenic than that.
I don’t feel that the new technologies are all that new anymore, but broadband
has allowed artists to deliver richer media than was possible in the early days
of (specifically) the web. I don’t find any meaning in tools, unless a tool is
created overtly or conceptually to carry meaning. I leave such concerns for
media theorists to dissect.
4. 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).
Haha, well – I don’t intend to send any kind of general artistic ‘message’
through my work, but each piece could be said to have its own ‘message’, and
these vary widely – for example Electrosensitivity (Inanimate Alice –
http://www.inanimatealice.com ), racial/sexual identity (U, I, X, Y –
http://www.babel.ca/uixy ) or anti-capitalism (Protesters, Police, Politicians
– http://www.babel.ca/quebec ). But I suspect people will take their own
messages from these and any other works. The area that I have most consistently
worked within is early modernist aesthetics and practice, particularly of the
Dada movement, through collaboration with other artists at 391.org.
My digital work, like my work with traditional media, is more about the
pentrating gaze than it is about carrying message or meaning. Any message or
meaning must come through during the process of working on a piece. I have no
personal artistic vision, but a desire to respond creatively to art, news
media, my neighbours and environment (offline and on).
5. “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?
It can be useful to distinguish between art that can exist offline, and art that
cannot. The term ‘Art on the net’ includes both these types, so may not always
be a helpful phrase to use.
To my mind, net.art is creative work that operates online, uses the net in some
way not possible offline.
6. 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?
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?
I think the main challenge with online ‘interactive’ artworks is that the common
forms of interaction are still very limited – keyboard and mouse, clicks and
drags… It will be exciting to see more work done with other forms of
interaction – for example visual (eye-sensors, goggles etc.), sound
(microphones etc.) and touch (‘data gloves’, touch-screens)
Everyone has different experiences of computers in their daily life, and
different abilities and interests, so we need a wide variety of ways to
encourage an audience! I don’t believe there is a single ‘best’ way to present
net based art to an audience – some art benefits from being seen by an
individual at home, in a dark room, and some is better experienced on a big
screen at a festival or gallery with a live audience. The best physical space
for presenting various types of internet works would be one that allowed both
of these types of environment to be recreated, as best it can.
I think that people who have never experienced internet art before are not
encouraged by work that requires a high level of reading/interacting ‘skill’
(for example to realise that there are hidden links, or that clicking and
dragging is required). The problem is not necessarily the work, or the
audience, but that the two are not well matched. This might sometimes be helped
by better explanations by the artists or the insitutions that present their
work, but over time, as people experience more interactive work, these kinds of
issues should become less of a problem.
I’m not so certain that net.art “needs the audience much more and in different
ways than any other art discipline before”. The difficulty here is with the
very definition of art. For example, the practice of interactive theatre is
very old. Songsters have since ancient times involved audiences. What was once
viewed as craftsmanship is now discussed as art. In many ways, the creative
spirit has been commodified. Our technologies advance, but our concerns as
human beings remain the same. Net.art can be viewed by a lonesome soul in a
small, candle-lit room; or it can be presented through a data-projector onto
the side of a building, or onto a large screen in a conference venue. The
physical environment matters only if a piece of net.art is created to suit a
space. Interactivity is one of those terms I leave to theorists better suited
to discuss it.
7. 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?
Sadly the way that art is ‘measured’ globally seems to be by audience and/or by
money. So to be accepted as a ‘serious’ art form (by the world that measures
these things) Internet art would need to attract large audiences, or make a lot
of money. The latter seems very unlikely, given one of the abilities of the
internet is to distribute information (and in this case art) freely, and many
artists feel this is a very good thing. But the number of festivals and
exhibitions of internet art is growing, and this will help; Prizes are another
good way of attracting publicity and audiences.
I write and make digital artworks for what poet Octavio Paz called the “immense
minority”, or maybe Stendhal’s “happy few”. I like to think that my work is
accessible to my neighbours – people with little or no exposure to the creative
arts. I admit to being an end-user who hammers on a computer. I am thrilled to
think that people from all over the world view my creative online work (site
stats bear witness to this), but I have no desire to promote net.art as being
serious art. I was a photographer for a long time, a practice only now getting
its due as a form of art. Digital media has freed traditional photography to be
an artform. Something will likely come along one day to free digital art in the
8. 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?
Yes, I do believe that anybody who publishes their art, online or offline, is an
‘artist’. Actually I don’t believe they don’t even need to publish to be called
an artist. But this says nothing about the subjective or objective qualities of
the art they create. And practically speaking, there is not enough time for
anyone to view all the art that is available in the world. So curators,
critics, and other types of ‘filter’ can perform these and other useful
I have a friend who creates splendid pieces of visual poetry and mailart, but he
is not “published”, online or off. Curatorial filtering is for curators and
artists who wish to be included in one project or another. Unless the artist is
dead, it is up to the artist whether to be involved. Net.art has created an
interesting situation where the critical language used to describe it is
lagging behind the practice. This, to my mind, is a wonderful turn of events.
As for art itself, I do not hold to the belief that anyone can be an artist. It
is a matter of dedication, energy and sacrifice.
9. 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?
I don’t think it is essential to understand an art work from any particular
perspective, but it is useful for curators of net based art to have a practical
understanding of how these works function so that they can understand how best
to present these pieces, individually and collectively.
Like babel, I believe it is “useful for curators of net based art to have a
practical understanding” of the work they present. Like a curator of
traditional artforms who knows about brush strokes, contast in a photograph.
But it is most important for a curator of net.art or digital media to have an
understanding of the history of the medium.
10. 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?
My hopes would be that such a space will encourage more people to experience –
and create – net art. Good luck!
I am interested to see how being included in the JavaMuseum will affect the
remix’s site stats: where will the online viewers come from? how long will they
stay? which pieces will they engage with? will it bring new members to the