Agricola de Cologne (AdC) interviews rechen [Roberto Echen](RE)
Roberto Echen -rechen- from Argentina
Interview: 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.
1. Tell me something about your educational background and what is influencing your work?
I first study art as I was a boy (in a very academicist way) and -of course- I gave it up. I came back to art as I started studying engineering at the university. I did it by myself -in an autodidactic way. I left engineering at 5 course (6 was the last) to devote to art. I also became professor of art at the University of Rosario.
When I had my first computer I realized what I had studied engineering for. I started making art with my computer and soon I started programing it. From here to netart it was only a step.
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?
I think the most suitable definition is the tautologic one art made up to be experienced online. Of course, this is not true in many cases. Nevertheless, internet makes art works to be developed, experienced and spread in a way that is very different to any other ways of making art. I think and hope netart is not art in the known sense of this term. I think internet is creating not only a different kind of art works but a different concept of art which could even be called otherwise than art.
I think and hope that aesthetic criteria -as known at the present- will be (and have to be) irrelevant for internet based art.
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?
As it may be realized from the former answer I don’t think internet as a tool but as the possibility of a new language and, therefore a new way of art or whatever its name might be.
Of course you can make paintings and hang them in the net as a mere gallery and it is ok but it is not an “internetic” way of thinking. Concepts like author, collection and even art may be radically modified by the appearance of internet.
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).
Internet -and this has to do with the above- makes you engage (in whatever, internet is the place of engaging). Nevertheless I don’t have a “theme”. Actually, the net itself becomes a theme many times in different ways, and the way you can access images, audio, etc of any subject and news makes almost unavoidable for you to engage.
One of the recent themes I tried was porn, and this again has to do with internet. Internet has put pornography in a place it never had before. Although it’s not the only cause of it I think it is the most important one. Since that pornography became a theme that interests me as well as other kind of events “really pornographic” like wars, mainly the invasion of Irak.
“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?
Well, being internet based art a way of making art -as I said above- so it could be called internet art or something like that even experienced offline. It has to do with what I think about internet as creator of a different language.
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 there can be many ways of presenting net based art. Indeed, all you mention above have their advantages and disadvantages. I have curated exhibitions which included net based art as part of it and I’m working on the possibility of making a kind of cyber-caffe at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rosario to present netart.
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’m not sure if it is desirable this situation to be changed. I think this is the most strong possibility net and new technologies based art has to make the difference.
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?
As I said above what I see by now is a possibility. I can’t assure what is going to happen but I am certain that this possibility exists right now. And any activities related to art (as curatorial activities) should be rewiewed if one wishes this possibility to be accomplished.
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 this has to be a requisite but of course it might help to understand it. Nevertheless, you can curate netart having just a little knowledge about technology if you get the concept of the net. What I mean is that you don’t need a deep knowledge of technology to get this concept.
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 ?
I had works of mine on JavaMuseum and I think it was a very important space for netart works, and a very democratic one indeed. So my wishes are that it can be again a reference site for net artists and people interested in it.
Thanks for taking your time.