Sunday, December 27, 2009


Henry Flynt talks to Stewart Home, New York 8 March 1989.

Henry Flynt was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1940. In 1961, after his New York debut in Yoko Ono's Chambers Street loft, he originated the idea of concept art. Then, in 1962, Flynt initiated a utopian critique of art from the stand-point of the absolute subjectivity of taste. He destroyed most of his early works, left the art world and began a campaign to 'demolish serious culture.' Flynt continued to produce music but his cultural activities tailed off in the late sixties. Despite this he did appear in Ira Cohen's 1968 drugs and magic underground short "The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda" as a member of the The Universal Mutant Repertory Company with cohorts Loren Standlee, Ziska Baum, Angus MacLise, Raja Samayana, Tony Conrad, and Jackson MacLow; the resultant celluloid is notorious as perhaps the most drug damaged cinematic experiment of the psychedelic era.

During the seventies Flynt returned to college to take a phd in communist economics. In 1987, he resumed making concept art in conjunction with the crystallisation of his researches into the foundations of science. Flynt now views his previous assessment of art as being heavily conditioned by the period in which he entered the New York art scene. Nevertheless, his critique provides a useful starting point for discussing the class basis of culture. As the eighties draw to a close, Flynt's extreme utopianism is gaining currency among a younger generation of thinkers (particularly those who emerged from the now defunct Neoist movement). Simultaneously, his recent work is creating ripples of interest among the cognoscenti of the official art world.

The principal collection of Flynt's writings is "Blueprint For A Higher Civilisation" (Multhipla Edizioni, Milan 1975). A recent essay on concept art by Flynt and an interview with him can by found in "Io" #41 edited by Charles Stein (North Atlantic Books, Berkeley 1988).

My interview with Flynt took place in a sandwich bar on the corner of Broadway and Spring, a few yards away from the Emily Harvey Gallery where Flynt's "Classic Modernism and Authentic Concept Art" was on show. It is chiefly concerned with Flynt's activities during the sixties and his utopian critique of art.

HOME: How did your ideas develop, what direction were you coming from in the early sixties?

FLYNT: My early work was philosophic, what would be called epistemology, I was convinced I'd dicredited cognition. When somebody says that all statements are false, the obvious problem is that as an assertion it's self-defeating. I had to find a way to frame this insight which was not self-defeating and that's in "Blueprint", the essay entitled "The Flaws Underlying Beliefs." One has to do what Wittgenstein claimed to do in the "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus," which is to use the ladder and then throw it away. The way I devolved, moved out from, this position of strict cognitive nihilism, was with the idea of building a new culture which would depart profoundly from the scientific culture in which we live.

I was a student at Harvard and that's where I learned about so called avant-garde music. Jackson Pollock, abstract expressionism and action painting were well known at this time, but the music was more of a cult thing with individual composers doing very unusual work. It was very hard to find out about what these people were doing. I was told that people like Cage were the latest thing. Christian Wolff, who was an associate of Cage, was at Harvard as a graduate student and there were a lot of concerts of so called avant-garde music held at the university.

HOME: How did you got involved with the set promoting this type of music?

FLYNT: I was trying to be up with the latest thing. To a point I just took what I was offered, logical positivism in philosophy and the so called avant-garde in music. I began composing works which were imitative of the music I was being told about. I was also very interested in translating the music into visual terms. At the same time I felt a tremendous disquiet about the avant-garde, there was something very inauthentic about it. There was the mystique of scientificity, Stockhausen was making claims which were actually false, that were philosophically discreditable.

Another thing that happened was that when I came to New York, I began to meet the people who became the most famous artists of our time. I was insecure about my own level of ability, I didn't know whether I could compete with these people and, at the same time, I was wondering what is this anyway? I felt very uneasy about the fact that all these people were competing with each other to become rich and famous and the original reason for all this activity had been lost.

HOME: So it was when you came into contact with the people composing this music that you became critical of it.

FLYNT: When I began competing with the other artists in New York. Also, at that time, I discovered classical North Indian music. I spent a lot of time with this and began to question the whole enterprise of classical music as such. I have a lot of problems with modern European culture. I find European music to be very four-square, it really lends itself to computerisation. In classical oil painting, there seemed to be a radical turn to seeing things as the camera sees them, with that technological modification. I began to have a tremendous problem with all of this. At the same time I was listening to black music and I began to think that the best musicians were receiving the worst treatment. The people who were doing the greatest work were despised as lower class, with no dignity accorded to what they did, while the stuff being promoted as serious culture and performed in the Lincoln Centre was absolutely worthless. There was no real emotion in it, the possibility of ingenuous experience had been replaced by an ideology of science and scientism.

I became very angry about the fact that I'd been talked into going to these Cage concerts when I was in college, that I'd sat and tried to make myself like that stuff and think in those terms. I felt I'd been brainwashed, that it was a kind of damage to my sensibilities. I'm still mad about this, I still feel I've not recovered from the experience.

HOME: How was this anger expressed in your activities during the early sixties?

FLYNT: At that time I was initiating concept art. I was doing a lot of things, many of them imitative. The purpose of concept art as a genre is to unbrainwash our mathematical and logical faculties. At the same time it's bound up with aesthetic delectation. I think these two aspects are integral to concept art, it's not just an artificial pasting together of the two things, they actually change each other in the course of their interaction.
From there I moved to an absolutely subjective position aesthetically, where each individual should become aware of their unformed taste. I used the term brend to signify this and thought that it would replace art. Basically, at this time, I viewed any work of art as an imposition of another persons taste and saw the individual making this imposition as a kind of dictator. I don't think there's any irony about the fact that I was beginning to dabble in political leftism at the very time I was inventing a theory in which art disappears and is replaced by a kind of absolute individualism. It's not strange if you understand what the final utopia of socialism was supposed to be. It's no different from talking about getting rid of money or the state.

It was then that I began demonstrating against serious culture. In hindsight, the actual course of events has been very humiliating for me because no one picked up on the intellectual critique I made of Stockhausen. Another point I made was that black American music was a new language and I don't feel this was ever really acknowledged. What happened was that rock became an incredible commercial success, people just became bored with serious music and it was forgotten. It was not an intellectual battle or a battle of principle at all.

HOME: How was the group Action Against Cultural Imperialism organised?

FLYNT: It wasn't, the organisation didn't exist, it was just a bluff.

HOME: You didn't hold policy meetings?

FLYNT: No. There were two stages to this affair, at first we were demonstrating against all serious culture. The organisation was really just me and Tony Conrad. At that time Tony was living with Jack Smith, who just came along with us. At first he didn't want to do it, he told us he had work in the Museum of Modern Art and that he wouldn't picket them. Then I got out the signs that I'd made for the demonstration and he began giggling hysterically. He ended up coming along because he thought it was funny. The focus changed tremendously as my interest in politics developed. I was meeting people who were calling my attention to issues of socialism, which I'd never really thought about.

HOME: Who were these people?

FLYNT: You wouldn't know them, somebody named Richard Ohmann, he's an English professor today. I converted myself to Marxism through reading. The Cuban revolution had just taken place and there was a tremendous discussion going on about it, there were books coming out on the subject. I got into it in that way and by 1964 I was affiliated with a Marxist group. The focus of the cultural demonstrations changed tremendously, I began to concentrate on the issues of race and imperialism. As a political statement the demonstrations were an absolute failure, nobody understood why I was holding them. I was told my activities were creating deep confusion about where I was coming from and why I was angry. The chairman of Workers World Party suggested I write a book. He said, you don't present a new theory at a demonstration, you write a book about it. That's how "Communists Must Give Revolutionary Leadership In Culture" came to be written.

HOME: So this was in the mid-sixties?

FLYNT: Yes, a lot of things were happening then. Around 1967 I began backing away from dogmatic Leninism, not so much because I thought it was false, I just decided there was nothing utopian about it. When you translate it from theory into practice it becomes just another political event.*

HOME: To return to the point about confusion, to me that seems central to what you do. Before we started taping the conversation, you said your writing was a black hole which would suck people in and deconstruct their mode of thought.

FLYNT: That was in relation to cognition. I have a picture of an ideal consciousness which the writings are directed towards producing. It's not confused, I'm actually a great fan of lucidity.

HOME: I wasn't implying that your formulations were confused, what I was trying to say was that the texts have a disorientating effect on the reader.

FLYNT: I associate lucidity with belieflessness. I'm trying to assemble materials for a different mode of life, but it's a completely open question about how they might connect up. The whole drive of western culture, the part of it which is serious, is towards an extreme objectification. It's carried to the point where the human subject is treated almost as if it's dirt in the works of a watch. I'm trying to go to the source of this insane aberration, so that I can dissolve it. I want to do this by integrating subjectivity and objectivity, by making these two things intrinsically interdependent.

* i.e. the modernisation strategy of last resort. c.f. 'The Three levels of Politics' in 'Blueprint.' [Note added].

First published in Smile 11, London Summer 1989.

Henry Flynt's website

Chapter on early Fluxus from "Assault On Culture" (Flynt dislikes being associated with Fluxus and views those linking him to this anti-art group as hostile to his thought, but within the art world he is widely but "wrongly" perceived as a "Fluxus artist")

above copied from:

Irit Rogoff, Looking Away - Participations in Visual Culture

What comes after the critical analysis of culture? What goes beyond the endless cataloguing of the hidden structures, the invisible powers and the numerous offences we have been preoccupied with for so long? Beyond the processes of marking and making visible those who have been included and those who have been excluded? Beyond being able to point our finger at the master narratives and at the dominant cartographies of the inherited cultural order? Beyond the celebration of emergent minority group identities as an achievement in and of itself?

Over the past generation we have seen an extensive critique of the museum as everything from the staging ground of national histories to the performative sites of private obsessions. Artists such as Hans Haacke, Marcel Broodthaers, Daniel Spoerri, the Guerilla Girls, Fred Wilson and Barbara Bloom have launched complex stagings of the disavowed dimensions of cultural display. We have even seen institutions such as MOMA/ NY put themselves on supposedly reflexive display by looking at their own practices through the art works that unravel them as “The Museum as Muse”. Spurred on by the work of Michel Foucault , we have looked at issues of categorization and classification, by Haacke at “Museums as Managers of Consciousness” through the machinations of sponsorship, by Daniel Buren at the way museums turn “History into Nature”, From James Clifford we have taken the understanding of the relation between collecting and colonizing and from Hal Foster that between establishing something called “Primitivism” and maintaining the hegemony of the West. From Carol Duncan we have understood how deeply notions of gender are embedded is the museum as a mode of display and a public notion of edifying space while the Guerilla Girls , have documented the continuing absence of women artists from both permanent collections and temporary exhibitions within mainstream American Museum culture. The Canadian artist Vera Frenkel offers another example in her documentary project accompanied by videos and performance activity, entitled “The Cornelia Lumsden Archive”. Frenkel traces, through her veritable absence, the shadowy presence of a fictive 20th century woman writer; she does this by scrupulously emulating the archival modes that would have represented her had she ever existed, which takes us back full circle to Foucault.

In Visual Culture some partial responses to the question of what comes after critique can be teased out through a shift of the traditional relations between all that goes into making and all that goes into viewing, the objects of visual cultural attention. This, of course, builds on that mighty critical apparatus which was evolved throughout the 1970s and the 1980s in which an unravelling of the relations between subjects and objects took place through radical critiques of authorial authorities, of epistemological conceits and perhaps more than anything else through the ever growing perception of knowledge as an extended wander through fields of intertextual subjectivities. That project is well underway and in its wake come the permissions to approach the study of culture from the most oblique of angles, to occupy ourselves with the constitution of new objects of study that may not have been previously articulated for us by existing fields. In fact, it may well be in the act of looking away from the objects of our supposed study, in the shifting modalities of the attention we pay them, that have a potential for a re-articultion of the relations between makers, objects and audiences. Can looking away be understood not necessarily as an act of resistance to but rather as an alternative form of taking part in, culture?
The diverting of attention from that which is meant to compel it, i.e. the actual work on display, can at times free up a recognition that other manifestations are taking place that are often difficult to read and that they may be as important as the designated objects.

Recently an exhibition opened at the Courtauld Institute, an exhibition of contemporary art selected and hung in the actual spaces of the institute by the post graduated students. The opening was jam packed with the young men and women of the art world – pushing and shoving on the narrow stairs, sloshing beer over everyone and grinding cigarettes on the hallowed 18th century staircase. This invasion of a stiff and formal academic space by the floating population of art world openings was surprising enough to someone like myself, who had studied at the Institute. More surprising was the comment I overheard again and again as I trudged up and down the stairs ’ Well’, said various visitors that evening ‘its not so posh’, ‘I expected it to be a lot more posh, didn’t you?’ , “what’s all the fuss about this place?’ said another ‘Its just an old building, isnt it? ” ending his statement on a slightly puzzled questioning tone, as if wondering if there was some level of the experience that had been hidden from him. I who as a student had for years been intimidated by this place, was endlessly amused – it was as if the Queen had opened her bedrooms to the public and everyone had come around to share in the exposure of something that had so far been hidden. But beyond the voyeurism and beyond my own amusement, at a more interesting level, a form of participation was taking place in which some façade of privilege, of class and cultural exclusion, of supposedly rarefied learning, had been breached and the viewers were trying to figure out what exactly had kept them outside, had kept them at bay, since after all ‘it wasn’t that posh, was it?’ The project probably had in mind some notion of ‘democratisation’ and ‘accessibility’ through undoing the boundaries of elevated separation and inserting itself in the realm of the ‘contemporary’. Its final effects however, were almost the opposite, rather than making people feel comfortable within its spaces , its produced in my reading of it, an embodied manifestation of the mythical and fantasmatic which kept them at a distance. It did so not through curatorial intention but through a proliferation of performative acts generated by the audience.

In expanding the parameters of what constitutes an engagements with art, we might in fact be entertaining an expanded notion of the very nature of participation, of taking part in and of itself.
We all believe in the principle of participation. From the institutions of parliamentary democracy we sustain to the practices of listening to, rather than silencing or ignoring, the voices of children, women, minorities or the handicapped we take part in, we all uphold and approve the rhetorics of participation as they circulate in political culture. What we rarely question is what constitutes the listening, hearing or seeing in and of itself – the good intentions of recognition become a substitute for the kind of detailed analysis which might serve to expand the notions of what constitutes a mode of speaking in public, of being heard by a public.
Of course one of the main issues within this structure is that the question posed – whatever the question might be – is inevitably articulated at the centres of power and it is only the response elicited by it, that is paid attention. What interests me is the possibility of reading a response as a form of re articulating the question of what it might be to take part in public sphere culture. These thoughts chart the beginning of an inquiry into the possibilities that exhibition spaces might provide in order to accommodate the proliferation of performative acts by which audiences shift themselves from being viewers to being participants. Furthermore the participation I have in mind goes beyond an aesthetic identification within the confines of spaces reserved for artistic practices and towards a model in which these spaces re-engage with political culture in unexpected ways. The argument is predicated on a belief that art does not have to be overtly political in its subject matter in order to produce a political effect thus constituting a politics rather than reflecting one. It is this differentiation between the subject matter of works or exhibition thematics and the subject of the exhibition which is the main issue I should like to get to, albeit via a slightly circuitous route. In trying to recount a series of scenes in which audiences produce themselves as the subject of whatever may have been put on view for their edification, I am arguing that exhibition spaces might indicate possibilities—rather than provide opportunities—for self representation.

Of late I have become interested in trying to understand participation differently than as dictated by the commonly agreed principles of democratic participation and representation through institutions ; Some of these thoughts have been spurred by the opportunity to hold public dialogues with curators on the theme of ‘the curatorial’ 1, Others were developed through a process of integrating some of my thought into a book of artist’s writings by Yve Lomax, and all have resulted from the struggle to reconfigure my relations to the spaces and activities of art beyond the position of critical viewer.
By claiming an interest in participation I would like to put into question what it means to take part in culture beyond the audience functions of viewer or spectator allotted to us by most cultural arenas. Obviously the active / passive division of that old model of taking part in culture cannot be sustained in the wake of the immense rethinking of positionality that the last 25 years of theoretical analysis have launched on the world. We all come from somewhere, we all represent something, we all make and re-make ourselves daily through the acts of speech and appearance, but none of these are the stable identities which we can rely on to be constant through the barrage of encounters of difference we face. Being so active and volatile an entity we, as viewing audience, can no longer be positioned as the observers of work from the outside, and having understood how we remake work in relation to the subjectivity we project upon it, we cannot unlearn this when confronted with the work of ‘art’. The question that is raised therefor is what forms of response replace that old model of lost identification and do these emergent modes of response afford some mutuality that links viewers and participants beyond their named location of identity? Consequently I have been reading various philosophers and social theorists who themselves have been thinking possibilities of the common and its articulation without resorting to the stability of ‘identity’ whether essential or constructed. 2

At some level it has been possible to locate in those readings possibilities for the disruption of that rapt gaze of culture which has kept us for so long in the position of edified viewers. To find alternative models of both looking away and coming together in Giorgio Agamben’s unhinging of ‘singularity’ into the ‘whatever’, in Jean-Luc Nancy’s insistence of the disruption of myth—of myth designating the absence of what it names—as the grounds for political possibility, in Hanna Arendt’s constant flow of made and remade ‘spaces of appearance’.3. In their thought there is a preoccupation with concepts of community that is not founded in the politics of identity and a play with flows and ebbs of mutuality that have helped me link preoccupations with ‘the performative’ to a theory of ‘the political’. For some time now I have been getting into trouble with my use of ‘we’ and ‘us’ in my texts—frequently after the publication of some piece I would be asked, often with great hostility, “who is we, who are us? in your writing – we,” they would say, who don’t share your identity; be it national, sexual, political , theoretical, class or language based, refuse our inclusion into your argument”. Well, the ‘we’ I have in mind is not identity based – it cannot be found in the named categories by which an identity is currently recognised in the world. Rather, it comes into being fleetingly as we negotiate a problem, a mood, a textual or cultural encounter, a moment of recognition – these shared mutualities do not form a collective heritage but they do provide the short lived access to power described by Arendt, not the power of the state but the power of speech. In the context of this particular writing the ‘we’ I have in mind is designated through a recognition of shifts taking place in the project of ‘theory’. A shared transition, albeit expressed in different ways, that the project of theory has moved on from being a mode of analysis by which you understand what lies behind and beneath the workings of knowing and representing. Instead ‘theory’ can become the space of making, or re-making of culture, of envisaging further possibilities rather than of explicating existing circumstances. Those who agree to a suspension of the purely critical, to momentarily shared imaginaries, to a bit of groundlessness, lost and regained – that’s us, that’s who I mean.
What are the demands that are made on us by ‘art’? – Demands for totality and singularity, for completeness and for satiety which infuse ‘art’ as they infuse any other grand scheme in the traditional order. I want to take some elements of Yve Lomax’ dialogue with these demands, with their claims and with the refutation of those claims and situate them in what Hannah Arendt has called “The Space of Appearance”. As much of Yve Lomax’s reflection is put forward through a play with narrative voices and as a fellow participant in its overall charge of de-centering cultural trajectories, it seems appropriate for me to inflect these with additional analyses that are both spatialised and founded in ethnographic observation of a fairly mundane nature. In so doing I am attempting an argument that would wish to both unframe the realm of art from all of those deeply isolating grand privileges, from all those impossible demands, while at the same time allowing it to be the space of collective engagements. Not collective engagements planned in the headquarters of ideological persuasions, but rather those that Arendt characterised as ‘speech and action’, loosely coming together for a momentary expression and then coming apart again. This ‘space of appearance’ articulated by Arendt is neither concretely inhabited nor is it temporally constant, it comes into being “whenever men are together in the manner of speech and action and therefor precedes and predates all formal constitution of the public realm and its various forms of government”4.

Why have I gone back to old Hannah Arendt you might well ask—to someone so often allied with ‘liberalism’ and who seemingly predates the intricacies of ‘difference’—in trying to think of some of the little steps which might follow in the wake of the slippery sliding ‘line in the middle’ Yve Lomax speaks of?
Why then?
Having abdicated the collective investment in totalizations and singularities which had long claimed the task of our collective cementing, can we begin to think alternative collectivities and can we do so without lapsing into some lamenting grief about the clear cut guidelines and navigational principles we had once shared in those long gone days of certainties and the unequivocal actions that these legitimated. This state of having first fragmented those certainties and of currently trying to go beyond both these and the endlessly fragmented lines they have dissolved into is not an act of refutation —“No” says Yve Lomax, ”not a question of a lost or unlocatable reality, no, not a question of total mystification”5. Therefor it is not a refutation of those old demands but a refusal – a refusal of both them and of the very terms by which they come into conceptualisation and operation, that is my preoccupation. It is for this reason that I have dragged in old Hannah, because of the exceptionally fresh and arbitrary nature of the ‘space of appearance’ that she proposes to us.

In its fleeting and ephemeral constitution the ‘space of appearance’ shares much common ground with Henri Lefevbre’s concept of ‘spatialization’ as the constant social production of space. Not a space named by its concrete constituents such as buildings or environments or tasks, but one which comes into being through a related readings of actions and of the fantasmatic subjectivities projected through these actions. The peculiarity of this ‘space of appearance’ says Arendt “…is that unlike the spaces which are the work of our hands, it does not survive the actuality of the movement which brought it into being, but disappears not only with the dispersal of men….. but with the disappearance or the arrest of the activities themselves. Wherever people gather together, it is potentially there but only potentially, not necessarily and not forever.”6

The knowledgeable reader, immersed in Structuralist and post-Structuralist theory as such readers are, will inevitably ask why invoke Arendt when we have available to us theories of spatialization as those opened up by Lefevbre, theories of discourse as those put forward by Foucault and the strategies of performativity suggested by Butler ? In partial , only very partial, reply I might say that it is because Arendt’s thought links speech and action to the very constitution of power, not power as a mode of representation, nor power as the concrete articulations of ideological belief and their consequent translation into various structures of speech and of government. “What keeps people together after the fleeting moment of actions has passed (what we today call ‘organisation’), and what at the same time they keep alive through remaining together, is power”. Neither Force, strength nor violence nor the apparatuses of the State or the law, this power conceptualised by Arendt is the fleeting coming together in momentary gestures of speech and action by communities whose only mutuality lies in their ability to both stage these actions and to read them for what they are. The space of appearance in which these momentary actions take place are the staging grounds of protests, refusals, affirmations or celebrations and like Lefevbre’s ‘space in the process of production’ they do not bear the markings of traditional political spaces but rather galvanise the spaces of everyday life and temporarily transform them by throwing flitting mantles of power over them;

“ … action and speech create a space between the participants which can find its proper location almost any time and anywhere. It is the space of appearance in the widest sense of the word, namely, the space where I appear to others as they appear to me, where men exist not merely like other living or inanimate things but make their appearance explicitly”.7

The reason I would wish to think of ‘art’ in relation to such a ‘space of appearance’ is recognition that when something called ‘art’ becomes an open interconnective field, then the potential to engage with it as a form of cultural participation rather than as a form of either reification , of representation or of contemplative edification, comes into being. The engagement with ‘art’ can provide a similar space of appearance to that described by Arendt, not by following the required set of interpellated, pensive gestures but rather seeking out, staging and perceiving an alternative set of responses.

What is it that we do when we look away from art?
When we avert our gaze in the very spaces and contexts in which we are meant to focus our attention?
When we exploit the cultural attention and the spatial focus provided by and insisted on by museums, galleries, exhibitions sites and studios to cajole some other presence, some other dynamic in the space, into being? Are we producing the ‘affirmation through negation’ Yve Lomax speaks of in her discussion of the Alpha, its very refutation serving to actually ground its importance or are we opening up a space of participation whose terms we are to invent?

Is this averted gaze a refusal of the work on display, of the contexts which frame it, of the claims made for it, of the gravitas required in its contemplation, of the gratitudes it demands for our supposed edification?
Perhaps it is a refusal of the singularity of attention that the work traditionally demands. ( a friend tells of never being able to get into a museum’s exhibits because he always seems to get waylaid by the bookstore, another friend spends longer talking about the different coffees in the museum’s cafeteria than about the exhibit that generated the visit in the first instance.).
Beyond Benjamin’s notion of the ‘aura’ with its combined understanding of how uniqueness and value mutually constitute one another through the production of a third entity, the work of art imbued with a halo of splendidness—we have to think of what actively separates the work from everything else that takes place around it. In this context I would have to briefly and tediously insist on the difference between the project of contextualizing art, of embedding it in social and other histories as appropriate frameworks for the production of meaning—a largely academic and scholarly project which galvanizes both archival materials and methodological analyses to provide frames for reading works—and between that of the performative gestures, which I have in mind and which work to undo those very frames. I am referring to those moments in which people come together to unconsciously perform an alternative relation to culture, through their dress, or speech or conduct.8 These performative gestures offer both a disruption and the possibility of an alternative and less obvious set of links with its surroundings, links which may be quite arbitrary or coincidental to the trajectories of immanent meanings. Of these, the most insistant separations between bodies of work and their surroundings come about through two sets of beliefs; – An over-riding belief in the singularity of the work of art. – The cultural habits of affording it , that singular work, our unfragmented attention. Therefor we have to unravel both concepts of ‘singularity’ and those of ‘undivided attention’ in order to rework the relations between works and audiences through strategies of concentration.

To unpack ‘singularity’ I am using Giorgio Agamben’s argument in “The Coming Community”; A series of linked essays which asks how we can conceive of a human community that lays no claims to identity? of how a community can be formed of singularities that refuse any criteria of belonging? A community whose collective basis are neither the shared ideological principles nor the empathies of affinity and similarity?
“The coming community is whatever being….. The Whatever in question here relates to singularity not in its indifference with respect to a common property (to a concept, for example; being red, being French, being Muslim) but only in its being such as it is. Singularity is thus freed from the false dilemma that obliges knowledge to choose between the ineffability of the individual and the intelligibility of the universal. The intelligible according to a beautiful expression of Levi ben Gershon (Gersonides) is neither a universal nor an individual included in a series but rather ‘singularity insofar as it is whatever singularity’. In this conception, such-and-such being is reclaimed from having this or that property, which identifies it as belonging to this or that set, to this or that class (the reds, the French, the Muslims) – and it is reclaimed not for another class nor for the simple generic absence of any belonging but for its being-such, for belonging itself. Thus being-such which remains constantly hidden in the condition of belonging and which is in no way a real predicate, comes to light itself: The singularity exposed as such is whatever you want, that is, lovable” 9(from “Whatever” pp.1-2). Yve Lomax in unshackling photography from being either the representation of a single reality or the manifestation of a singular practice says “Photography is mixed up with all sorts of things – law and order, the family, the medical professions, the art market. Photography is involved in a diversity of practices, stories and theories. There is painting in photography. There are words in photography. There is sexuality in photography. There is money in photography. There are a host of different ‘photographies’. When we start with photography we are already in the middle of quite a few things. Indeed, we may argue that there is no such thing ( in itself) as Photography, only photographies.” 10 Between Yve Lomax’ pluralities and Agamben’s notion of the ‘whatever’ (Which for the sake of clarity, is not the ‘whatever’ of California teenagers in which anything can be substituted by anything else, more a distrust of speech) we have a joint project of de-centering—not the repeated movement of return to a narrowing enclosure but the introduction of a logic of movement at whose core is a non-epistemic, or perhaps better a counter epistemic, arbitrariness. By this I mean an epistemological equivalent of Agamben’s whatever, in which both the what we know and the how we know it are fluid entities that settle in different areas acording to the dictates of the moment but receive equal amounts of attention and concentratiion regardless of their recognition or status in the world of knowledge.

Agamben continues “Whatever is the figure of pure singularity. Whatever singularity has no identity, it is not determinate with respect to a concept, but neither is it simply indeterminate; rather it is determined only through its relation to an idea, that is, to the totality of its possibilities. Through this relation, as Kant said, singularity borders all possibility and thus receives its omnimoda determinato not from its participation in a determinate concept or some actual property (being red, Italian, Communist) but only by means of this bordering.” 11
Thus the singularity of ‘art’ is disrupted by a decentering dynamic, broken up by the plurality of its possibilities and by the arbitrariness of the principle of ‘Whatever’.
Theoretical analyses are also lived realities. Thus the disruption of art’s singularity, of its hold on our attention and focus are everywhere in the speech and action we produce in the seemingly unimportant registers we engage in relation to it.
G.B. and I have gone to see the Jackson Pollock exhibition at the Tate Gallery. I am wary of the hyperbolic claims made for the grand master of Abstract Expressionism, wary of the investment in the muscular and visceral hero of Modernism, wary of the equation of action , physicality and scale with some notion of liberation and of a strike for cultural autonomy. In short I am critically on guard and approach the whole visit with weariness and a sense of cultural obligation. I have dragged G.B. along in the hope that his superior knowledge of the period and of the work, the fact that he has already visited the exhibition on several occasions, will provide me with insight and animate the encounter, chip away at my weariness. Shortly after entering the exhibition and beginning to look, through the compulsions of chronology, at the early work, we spot the actress who plays the beautiful nurse Carol Hathaway on the fabled TV. series E.R. . We are mesmerized, we follow her around the exhibition, she is even more beautiful in real life than on the screen and we speculate on the color of her hair and on the relationship to her companion at the exhibition. Our attention has been well and truly diverted and one mythic structure—the heroic Modernist figure of Pollock and the art history that instates him and claims that singularity of our attention for him and for his art—has been interrupted by another mythic structure, that of Hollywood celebrity and the odd slippages between distance and proximity, reality and filmic fiction that occur when it is delivered directly into our living rooms with weekly regularity. It is entirely true that both G.B. and I are fans of the series, at the same time it is also true that we occupy ourselves with the critical interrogation of the meanings and status of art within broad visual culture. Were we simply swept along, interpellated by fandom and struck by glamour or had we staged a disruption that was entirely necessary for our own viewing processes, allowing us to exit the application demanded from us and to unframe the exhibition from the isolating claims made for it, from its mythic structures? Perhaps by willfully juxtaposing one mythic structure with another, using culture to stage our need for disruption rather than engaging in some mode of unruly behavior.

Mythic structures therefor clearly play a substantial role in the interpellation of our attention. Much thought has been given to the mythic in terms of heroic artists and of valiant ground breaking avant guard movements, of figures and actions which seemingly take on in opposition, some set of perceived conventions of the day and articulate a set of resistances to these. But they are equally the primal scene of Arendt’s ‘space of appearance’ and evolved out of the joint operations of narrative and conversation. Certainly in the case of the disrupted viewing of the Jackson Pollock exhibition, G.B. and I regaled one another with tales of our watching experiences and reactions to E.R. – our perceptions of the characters portrayed, of the actors portraying them, of the evolving story line, of the mesmerizing effects of the fast cutting technique which is the series’ cinematic hallmark. Not only was one mythic structure mobilised in relation to another one, that of the exhibition, but a viewing position, an alternate of imbricated fan as opposed to reverential spectator, was put into play in this disruption. Myth, states Jean Luc Nancy, begins when a group is gathered listening to a story and the telling of that story is the entire point of their assembly – the scene of the myth is their space of appearance “We know this scene well. More than one storyteller has told it to us, having gathered us together in learned fraternities intent on knowing what our origins were. Our societies they have told us, derive from these assemblies themselves, and our beliefs, our knowledge, our discourses and our poems derive from these narratives.”12. The relation of the narrative and of its structuring properties within the mythic is to do with the fact that what it communicates itself, its process of communicating. “It does not communicate a knowledge that can be verified from elsewhere: it is self-communicating…..In other words along with knowledge, about whatever knowledge about whatever object it might be, it communicates also the communication of this knowledge…… Myth communicates the common, the being-common of what it reveals or what it recites. Consequently, at the same time as each one of its revelations, it also reveals the community to itself and founds it.”.13 One of the most interesting of Nancy’s insights is the degree to which critical or analytical initiatives (his examples are Romanticism, Communism, Structuralism) are secret communities and constitute the very last possibility of myth to both invent itself and transmit itself. Another is his insistence on its fictional nature ““Mythic thought – operating in a certain way through the dialectical sublation of the two meanings of myth – is in effect nothing other than the thought of a founding fiction or a foundation by fiction.14
Both of these insights I believe to be the source of much comfort, yet another acknowledgment of Derrida’s faith in there being no ‘outside of the text’ , an endorsement of the fact that as we converse and exchange critical perspectives we do not situate ourselves beyond their contexts and interpellations but rather shift the ground of these and recognize the degree to which we ourselves are its mythic objects. We are the arena and the site of both of these combined activities—As Nancy says myth operates simultaneously as both ‘foundation’ and ‘fiction’ and its truest form of thinking is philosophy which wants to both tell the truth 1. of myth and 2. in relation to (as opposed to) myth.15
But having agreed on the space of appearance and on the inherently split nature of the mythic, now we also have to face not simply the fictional but also the fragmented nature of the critical models around which a gathering could take place – beyond Romanticism, Communism, Structuralism – we locate ourselves within atomized trajectories in which direction or subject, one direction or one subject, are not at all inevitable. On the contrary says Yve Lomax “ Think of making the art gallery a most untimely place. Think of making the lines break through and not settling for well established points. Think of all the lines which are involved. Rigid lines – sexual lines – institutional lines – supple lines – saddening lines – electric lines. Lines of prejudice but also vibrant lines. The lines involved within the formation of the gallery space can never be contained in just one local place”16

Everything that we had previously counted on in order to focus our attention, the fixed and designated identity of named spaces, the perceived clarity of division between subject and object, the gripping and compelling nature of myth—have come undone within the dialectics of subjectivity. In Jean Luc Nancy’s terms;
“Myth realizes itself dialectically: it exceeds all its mythic figures to announce the pure mytho-logy of an absolute, foundational, symbolizing or distributive speech.
It is here that things are interrupted.
The tradition is suspended at the very moment it fulfills itself. It is interrupted at that precise and familiar point where we know that it is all a myth…… and the word ‘myth’ itself designates the absence of what it names.” 17

The disruption I recounted is partly an intervention in a mythic structure and the compulsion to point to the absence that it names through the deployment of a high / low dichotomy. But it is also performative and makes a claim for what Hannah Arendt calls ‘the space of appearence’ For Arendt, this space of appearence is what makes possible ‘action’ and the inevitable reversal it has wrought in the hierachical order between in Arendt’s terms, contemplation and action. Having become aware of the very mythic nature of our own critical interventions, it is the minute gatherings of refusal and disruption which are left to us to somehow live out the combined entities of participation and criticism. To make such a statement is to somehow be seemingly gripped by a Situationst ethos, by the echoes of stealthy street actions, remade topographies and inscriptions left behind on walls. How do we occupy the space of commanding attention in ways that is not the take over of street marches nor the romantic covert operations of the agents of ‘detournement’? Perhaps we could say that we simply do not, that we refuse that very notion of a spatial occupation in which our identity is made subjugate to a named commonality. That we live out Agamben’s ‘whatever’ in the vagaries of trivial conversations that ebb and flow, making and remaking the ‘space of appearance’ as we speak of different things. Inside, distracted, acknowledging that our utterances come back to us in inverted form, conceding the common while refusing its identity – thats us.
Bibliographical Information:

from Art After Criticism, G. Butt, ed. Blackwells

above copied from:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Beyond the Realm of Humans: A Discussion with Mark Pauline of Survival Research Laboratories, Garnet Hertz

For those who haven't heard of SRL, how would you describe the lab, its performances, and its goals?

It's something I started back in '79. I had a certain skill background -- I liked using skills that I had, but I didn't like having "jobs" very much. So, I figured out something where I could use what I had previously learned -- like fabrication skills, 'propaganda' skills from college -- and applied them and came up with the SRL system. I basically thought it up over a period of a couple weeks.

I started as an organization. I formed my activities under the auspices of a company, the corporate auspices of SRL -- Survival Research Laboratories. For a couple of years I did it on my own, and it's now turned into a thing where a lot of other people are involved. It is more or less an organization, although it is a very loose association until there is a show on the horizon.

It's a pretty interesting and intense integration of all sorts of different people from different skill backgrounds and cultural backgrounds while setting up the shows. I, as the 'art director', develop the theme of how it is going to be implemented. I co-ordinate all of the activities that have gone on in the months leading up to that into an event that hopefully represents in some way the work that has been done -- the conclusion of all that work. Presenting it to the public is always a part of that.

...and the machines?

We build machines of a fairly large size -- they are very extreme. Basically they are constructed by a basic plan which is the basic cry of physicists everywhere: you want to release the most energy in the shortest period of time. SRL machines are pretty much modeled after that creed. Basically we make these devices very extreme -- some of the machines are very large and weigh up to a couple of tons. We build very elaborate sets that stage performances where there is a theme, and the machines have sequences of interactions, and these last about an hour. Ever since 1980, the audiences have been between one and five thousand people. We've done about 47 of these shows since I started doing it in '79.

How does technology and art interact at SRL?

At SRL the lines are very blurred. The kind of skills ideas that go into the machines at SRL and the way that technology is portrayed is similar to the way that technology is portrayed in the schemes of the military. The similarities between SRL and the military's use of technology is that we're both trying to extract the most extreme performances out of the devices that we are dealing with, and trying to make a deep impression on people. In our case, we are trying to get an audience to sit still for an hour while trying to present a narrative production with machines as the actors. You've got to have all sorts of extreme devices to hypnotize people into seeing it as a connected sequence of events, instead of discrete elements or just machines moving around.

We employ a lot of the same techniques to get in the military -- it's a suspension of belief. In the military the suspension of belief is that you can win when you're up against technology. In our case, the suspension of belief is to try to get beyond the normality of everyday life -- to get beyond that and put the audience in a different state.

How would you best describe your narrative?

There is a sequence of events: a script for each show. The intention is to maximize the effects of all the devices there -- to present them in an order that allows the set to be used most efficiently. Of course, things happen during the show that often provide opportunities that you couldn't have imagined and so there is a lot of improvisation.

For instance, during the shows we're all on headsets. I direct the actions on almost a second by second basis, trying and maximize the effects. I try to drive the whole show, while the other people try to drive the devices. We try to co-ordinate everything and yet not narrate it as something with a language is narrated, like a book or a play. It's more like a connected series of events.

The reason you want to have a narrative sense to it is because the ultimate goal of the show is to make it look like it is a real world, like a habitat for these devices -- that they belong here and this is what the machines do here. The aesthetics pretty much revolve around that.

Do you see SRL as having a goal -- influencing the audience into considering things they wouldn't have considered before the show?

Well, I think that the relationship that most people have with technology is very formal. In fact most people have no relationship with technology except through their work: to make money at their jobs. At SRL, we try to take these kinds of things, and use those kinds of cliches and the way they are usually analyzed. We take them, pick them apart and re-combine them into the images and ideas that we present at the shows. I think for some people it calls into question -- reminds or even haunts them -- of the things that connect with their day to day relationship with technology.

Also, SRL combines the technology in a way so that the machines form a show. Not a just show, but a S-H-O-W. There aren't too many specifics about it. I'm accused of having all sorts of political stripes from Neo-nazi to far left. Just because we're not specific about our shows, we get accused of being everything.

I was under the impression that SRL was meant to probe into the misuses and the scary possibilities of technology -- 'the paradise of technology gained is soon lost'.

Well, we're just a bunch of pokey kind of people. We go around and make fun of things. The attitude pervades this place, I mean, most of the people here are skeptical, too. Anything that goes up is for grabs: any kind of cultural image or icon. The common thing around here is playing that role, doing the things that you're not supposed to do -- jumping of the cliff instead of just looking off the edge. I really don't know what kind of effect we have on other people.

I mean certainly just the idea that you can do something like this is a statement. SRL is the only organization in the U.S. that does big experimental shows. There's no one else in the country -- there's really nothing like it in the world. The fact that we even exist is something, we are showing that it's not an impossible task... even to just do big shows is a political statement...

I mean, there's so much lame performance art that rich people are into. If the artist wants to get out of the ghetto, they have to be more traditional. My approach is more the opposite -- I try to be more out of control.

In a lot of ways it's made it hard for us to do things. I just got a show banned last month, after working on it 5 or 6 weeks. We have a horrible reputation with the regulatory people because we do crazy shows. We've been doing it for years -- instead of telling the traditional lies -- so there's a lot of 'penalties' to be paid. We definitely can't do as many shows as often because 9 times out of 10 the shows get stopped by the regulatory people before they even happen.

Does it add something to the shows when they do happen?

Well, no... It's just a drag, it's stupid. People get in your way because they think you're making fun of them. It's strictly a power struggle. That's certainly the case with the fire department. It's sort of bizarre to think that you're threatening the fire departments of the world. Obviously we are because they know of us in an awful amount of cities.

Even though it's difficult for us to get shows, we always eventually do them. The fact that people seek to interfere with us is only a measure of how threatening it is -- which is a measure of how important it is. That's just the way it goes: it comes with the territory. I could obviously organize myself so that I didn't pose a threat. I would be able to get shows left and right and probably be rich and living in a nice house. But to me, that's not my role.

I have a quote here from your FTP site ... it says: "The fact of the matter is that if artists don't become conversant with technology then they will just be left out of the culture more than they are now." What do you see as a good combination between art and technology?

Well, I think that with any kind of use with technology you have to be aware of what you are doing -- you have to be aware that you are using a tool and aware that that's not the goal in itself -- you are trying to do something with this thing. I think that with normal uses of technology -- like when you're trying to make a product or you're doing R & D -- there is always a serious goal that cuts through all the bullshit. Usually in this case, you're trying to make money for your company. Most people making technology are just cranking stuff out.

In the arts it's different because there really isn't any specific goal. I think that a lot of people who start getting into technology just to get into it for its own sake. You have to be very careful of that. But on the other hand, you can do stuff with technology that you can't do in any other way -- and that's the only reason to use it. It's the whole thing that this society respects.

I think that if I don't know the technology it's worse than getting caught up in it for its own sake. I mean, I'm sorry, but you're just not going to be taken seriously if you are a painter. Rich people will take you seriously, but what you do will never mean anything in this society. Your only alternative is to take on some kind of mantle of technology and learn ways to use it -- or you'll never get anyone's attention.

It takes an enormous amount of time to build these machines. I'm now working on a machine which is the most complicated thing I've ever done. And normally it would have taken me a couple of years of screwing around with it to get it working. But compressing that into seven or eight months -- its a drag to work so hard on one stupid machine, but nobody else would ever make anything that complicated. I mean, you can do things here that you can't do any other way.

If it's your ultimate goal as a creative person to do something original then it takes ten times more time. You have to use technology, or you just aren't going to do anything original. You just will be doing shit that's been done already. That what it means to be doing something creative -- it's to be doing something that no one has figured out yet.

How do you go about recruiting people for the lab?

People just come around -- it's pretty informal. People just come by, and if they like what's going on here, they usually stick around. And when there's a show, they just kind of coalesce on the place. Usually we have about a hundred people working on the shows in the last couple of weeks. But normally, there are about twenty or thirty people that are the "core" SRL people.

There are people that come by here everyday. Sometimes they do stuff, sometimes they don't.

So there's no money involved...

There's no money, honey.

People come in and you just let them use the lab?

People come in all the time and work on stuff, and I figure out work for them to do and they just do it. There's also people that I help facilitate making their own machines, and I do whatever I can to make sure they get machine parts or tools. I have pretty good connections for all sorts of weird stuff. As a result, a lot of stuff comes my way that I don't always want. So, I distribute it to other people who I think are gonna use it to make machines or stuff with.

I have read about SRL using the concept of destruction as a metaphor for natural forces. Can you expand on the concept of the machine and how it relates to nature?

There is this book where Neitzsche basically expounded the idea that technology was the will to power -- where we basically will ourselves to be our own gods. We remake ourselves as god, and that's part of technology. You can use it to create forces on a level that can't be explained within the historical realm of the power of individuals like atomic weapons and rockets -- things that could not have been imagined as being the domain of humans. Basically, its about the harnessing of natural forces and re-doing them in a more useful image. I think that's what we do at SRL: that's part of the extreme angle that the machines are developed with.

The idea in a performance is that the machines become like natural forces in a very contained setting. Running the V-1 in a closed building -- that's pretty intense, like being in the middle of a storm or war zone. There's something to be said for that. Those are the kinds of things that get people's attention. Natural forces are amazing, but they are even more amazing when they are unnaturally generated.

Survival Research Laboratories

SRL www site :

SRL ftp site :

Interview date: 1995

© 1995 Garnet Hertz

Thursday, December 24, 2009

After land art: database and the locative turn, Brett Stalbaum

I want to live in Los Angeles
Not the one in Los Angeles
No, not the one in South California
They got one in South Patagonia
- Frank Black

This essay asks whether we might learn something from the history of land art that might be important for any re-evaluation of the ontology of art after modernism and conceptualism. It examines the tensions between the 20th century notions of modernism and conceptual art, underscoring their constant interoperation as art system. After exploring the history of database in computation and tracing how the concepts and implementations of database in computer science were taken up by artists, the essay proposes that the binding of abstraction to material actuality (also known as database) allows us to move on to 21st century model of art practice that focuses on producing located actions instead of visualization.

Land Art: Modern and Conceptual
Land art was the practice that emerged from 1960s conceptualist strategies, which managed to take conceptualism full circle back to modernism, or rather, into a stable orbit around these binary stars of 20th century art. As with all expanded forms -- idea systems, combinatorics, performance, re-evaluation of audience interaction, deconstruction, pastiche, negation, appropriation, the textualization of form (and the consequent intertexualization of all forms) and the de-objectification of the art object -- land art, too, can be said to have marched away from modernism into unexplored territories for art making. Genealogically, land art finds its initial point of self-organization in the conceptual, but it nevertheless constantly oscillated back to and away from the gravity of modernism -- a fact that today gives it a special resonance for artists who are concerned with re-evaluating the virtual in terms of data and material relations, and conjuring the parameters of 21st century art.

Land art did not enter into its steady oscillation between modernism and the conceptual for reactionary reasons, such as the maintenance of modernist memes, but rather due to simple formal consequence. In land art, conceptualism and modernism are basic aspects of a cultural art-ontology balancing user interaction and the shape of relations (spatial, cultural, and cybernetic) with modernist art-identity and materialist / formal matters. It manifested in material form based on place; land art is a priori concrete and situated, even if concept is the only adhesive binding a practice to a place. Indeed, conceptually, land art made possible a new artist / audience relationship to place through a navigable relationship to the landscape's actual scale: 1:1. Being there. These are crucial matters in a world where greatly expanded personal mobility collides with an improving awareness (both scientific and psychosocial) of the complexity and beauty of our planet and its systems (both physical and cultural) and where the integration of data and location-based services into planetary systems has become a dominant mediator of those systems.

In the same maneuver relative to the modernist and the conceptual, land art managed not to reach the unfortunate escape velocity that ultimately ends in projection into the void, avoiding the slingshot around the conceptual basin of attraction and projecting into empty space, as did a few conceptual voyagers that we will never hear from again. [1] Neither did land art demonstrate an assumptive dematerialization into performance, schematics, onto screens, or into communications networks. [2] Land art conceptually maintained a tie between the abstraction of its currency [3], and the material basis for the abstraction's value. Place functions as the material bonding a conceptual practice to the conceptual abstraction of its value, just as gold once anchored the value of national currencies.

Even non-sites (such as Robert Smithson's gallery installations) are always tied conceptually to place as a form of literal grounding, even if that grounding was viewed as a negation of the original site. What can we learn from land art that might be important for any reevaluation of the ontology of art after modernism and conceptualism? [4] Land art most clearly reveals not the teleological tensions between the modern and the conceptual, but rather their constant interoperation as art system in which abstraction is bound to material existence. This binding of abstraction to material actuality is of central formal consequence, as we shall see, to database.

Database: The Third Attractor
By the 21st century, data has become a dominant new attractor that alters the dynamics of the entire art-ontological system described above; allowing for even more complex interoperations, arguably transformative. The role of data in its interoperation with culture has become critical, as database has become a ubiquitous form of mediation in even the most mundane of daily social and economic interactions. If "Software" and "Communications" were the operative memes in the transcoding [5] between culture and technology in the 1960s through the 1990s, database should be viewed as their tacit substrate. Database, the technical form that mediates data relations between the cultural / social and the material world, functions as a third attractor after the modern and the conceptual.

Database art and related transcoding [6] are necessarily broader than the database art of purely technical form in ways that have only begun to be explored. However, beginning with an analysis of technical form has the advantages of exposing how data literally connects up to and influences the material world. [7] The figure of land art is important here because it reminds us that artists have had no trouble situating place, real estate, in an organizational relation to conceptual abstractions of the real (such as, but not limited to maps), undercutting the notion that data is imaginary, immaterial, or unreal. Mapping in the cartographic sense has long foregrounded the material consequences of data relations. For example, Lansford W. Hastings' "Emigrants Guide to Oregon and California" - - and his famous cutoff -- doomed close to half of the Donner-Reed party in 1846. Data is indeed always an incomplete representation of its referent, a factor that certainly contributed to that cannibalistic disaster. But it is also true that data is itself actual and quite often profoundly determinant of what happens through abundance, instead of paucity. With the motorization of data and information through computational machinery and communication, data is now tightly coupled with the actual. [8] In 2004, the Donner-Reed party would have the opposite problem: not too little data, but too much. The coupling of data to the real today is perhaps so rigorous that the landscape is now as often transformed through the assistance and mediation of electronic mapping tools (such geographic information systems) as emigrants are transformed by the landscape.

Database Art?
Any definition of "database art" is at this time bound to be immature. At least, we have not seen enough selfconscious "database" practice on the part of artists to define it in a way that takes into account both the broad and narrow applications of database in art practice. We need to take into account the broad observation that all new media artwork implies a relationship to database. Lev Manovich has pointed this out in his important work on the cultural objects of new media. [9] For example, the creation of new multimedia objects often involves the selection and organization of a variety of different digital media objects such as pictures, movies, sound, and user interface controls into an organized presentation of some sort -- be it a digital movie consisting of video clips, or a Macromedia Director project and its "cast" of media elements. The collection and management of the individual objects that are nested within other new media objects does in fact constitute a database of new media materials, making it correct to claim that all digital media practice implies some relationship to database. But a narrower and more specific view of the history of digital database is needed to specify an aesthetic and conceptual theorization of the trajectory of database art today -- one that brings artistic practice into alignment with the social ubiquity of database beyond the terms of new media art.

The classic definition of a database is that it is an organized store of data. Historically, the development of systems for managing and manipulating data stores lagged behind the development of digital computation, generally due to technical priorities. The development of digital processors necessarily prefigured the development of sophisticated digital storage systems. Alan Turing specified an imaginary discrete state machine (later known as a Turing machine) that has conceptual similarities to modern computing in 1936, when he published his mathematical proof relating to decidability: the Entscheidungsproblem. But this imaginary machine, though possible to construct physically in terms of its logical rules for processing, specified an impossible infinite paper tape for storage / memory. [10] His proof was followed by actual computers, such as the Atanasoff-Berry computer in 1937, Turing's Colossus in 1943, and Mauchly and Eckert's ENIAC in 1946, all of which had finite memory.

The latter machine, which is sometimes referred to as the first fully electronic computer, was aided tremendously by the stored program concept, invented in 1945 in the United States by the Hungarian émigré Jon Von Neumann. The concept is that the machine's reprogrammable memory should hold not only the data to be processed but also the instructions that are used to operate on the data. This was made possible by an important quality of electronic memory -- random access to the contents of addressable memory locations. Processors could, as a consequence of instructions, fetch or store either a datum or another instruction from any arbitrary memory location with equal ease. Before Von Neuman, computers were single function devices that had to be physically reconfigured (actually rewired) to execute a different program; memory was only used as scratch space for data. By storing the instructions in volatile memory, arbitrary instructions could be loaded and executed, allowing the computer's processing task to be redefined symbolically instead of physically, at will of the operator. In a sense, Von Neumann invented computers as we know them today.

Von Neumann's insight and its major impact on facilitating virtual algorithms --both technically and culturally as "software" -- are commonly understood today. But his concept also implied something more subtle about data: the fact that memory was something more than random-access scratch space in which to store data during processing implied in turn that a semi-random management of data storage might also yield revolutionary optimizations. The storage of data during this era was tied closely to the input and output media: from the 1940s through the late 1950s, data had to be entered into memory sequentially by utilizing panels of switches, or media such as punch cards and magnetic tape reels. The "organized store," the database, could be described in concept during this period a simple sequential list -- not worth formal consideration, except perhaps in archeological or genealogical analysis. While electronic memory was random access, storage was bound to sequential access. Random access to the organization of computer memory was what allowed programs and data to interoperate more flexibly. Soon, semi-random access to storage would create its own revolution, although it was a less visible one.

Work on more organizationally complex data stores designed for faster and more flexible access would not begin to gather full steam until the 1960s [11], just as artists were first beginning to pick up on software [12] and cybernetics [13] -- concepts that had crystallized within the development information technology in previous decades. The lag between the development of the computing concepts / implementations and their filtration into art culture is partially significant for an analysis of database art in that any kind of digital database beyond simple sequential lists of data (used as input to software programs in data processing) was not possible until after the delivery of semi-random access storage hardware (the magnetic disk drive) by IBM in 1957. Only at that time was it technically possible for significant amounts of data to become un-tethered from a relatively trivial sequential form, allowing for the development of database models that concentrated on the physical and logical organization of data in forms that would support various kinds of computational efficiencies when processing large data sets. [14] But it would be many decades before the implications of the emerging technical ontology of data would be taken up as significant issues for artists. Data would not be recognized in terms of its own explicit aesthetic and conceptual consequences until the middle 1980s, for example, in the work of Frank Dietrich. [15]

This lag between the development of database technology, its aesthetic and conceptual consequences, and adoption by artists is not the whole explanation for the delinquent primacy of database in the arts. Database, which in many ways should have been the next logical (and ultimately fundamental) technological consequence of computation taken up by artists after software, was overshadowed by the cold war-inspired rush to merge nascent computational systems with communications systems. Nam June Paik is an example of an artist who early indexed database formally in his work. Take for example his 1963 sound installation titled Random Access, in which Paik unraveled a reel of audio tape, affixing it in a web-like pattern on a galley wall. Audience members were invited to pick up a magnetic recording head and play random sections of the tape by running the recording head across the strips manually. The association with the random access magnetic disk drive is literal. But in Paik's case, it is impossible not to take into account that the accelerated interest in the development of communications technology (from Arpanet to space-based communications satellites) might have implied a shift in focus from database to "Cybernated Art" [16], and the art world meme of the "communications artist" that he would popularize. There is a certain banal logic of assumption that would seem to apply here: notions of "communication" might have more congruence with the historical identity of artists, and this might have made "communications artist" a more appealing and seemingly strategic label than "database artist." Database may simply have suffered from marketing problems in relation to the sexier notions of software (which implies agency) and communication (which implies a potential recuperation of the public function and influence of art), thus deferring an awareness of the critical importance of database until relatively recently.

Taking computation (processing via algorithm), database, communication, and additionally user interface as purely separate entities would of course constitute a dicey proposition, and I do not wish to imply such a separation in technical terms. Rather, I am suggesting that art world memes derived from technical means in a classic example of Manovich's notion of transcoding. The general point is that the conceptual basis of the technical form in which computation is manifest (database, software, communications, and user interface) entered into the world of art ideas unevenly over time, and -- whether we attribute the dilatory interest in the implications of database on the part of artists to database's square-ish-ness, or the sluggish uptake of scientific discoveries into the art world, or both -- database did not for the most part enter markedly into the work or discourses of artists until the early 1990s when the social consequences of database began to impinge more apparently on issues of identity and power. [17] By that time unfortunately, most of the political battle was de facto already over.

Database Politics
Database reigns victorious as a lynchpin of social control and power: the model through which all subsequent social relations will be mediated. This was accomplished long before a significant social analysis of a decentralized, nomadic power elite enabled by data would become a key concern for artists. The first artists to read the radar scope and consciously incorporate the consequences of the rise of database into their practice were the Critical Art Ensemble:

As the electronic information-cores overflow with files of electronic people (those transformed into credit histories, consumer types, patterns and tendencies, etc.), electronic research, electronic money, and other forms of information power, the nomad is free to wander the electronic net, able to cross national boundaries with minimal resistance from national bureaucracies. The privileged realm of electronic space controls the physical logistics of manufacture, since the release of raw materials requires electronic consent and direction. [18] (1994)

After CAE, the political implications of database representation came to ride shotgun with the political concerns of representation and power generally. Artists have certainly been active in scoring polemic points in both theory and practice regarding the asymmetry of power relationships surrounding database and the ironies that often occur as a database mediates subjects [19]; the various perversities of information as property [20]; and the sense of bodily loss or detachment given the existence of our data bodies. [21] I suggest that much work needs to be done before the reactive / critical stance of today is transformed into a proactive / constructive social movement that equates social and economic investment in data bodies to real bodies (because they are now bound to one another). However, I will not examine the critical and political reaction on the part of artists (sometimes referred to as "database politics") in this writing in favor of continuing the trajectory through the formal aspects of database, which to no surprise, are organized technically to facilitate the nomadic flow of data.

Formal Aspects of Database in Computation
Software programs called Database Management Systems (or DBMS) manage the data store, allowing for data to be inserted, deleted, updated and selected from the store. Most introductory textbooks on database make quite an issue out of the distinction between database as the organized store of data, and the database management system as software that manages the store. Indeed there are important consequences that result from the two. But in a broader analysis, the DBMS is typically situated within threetier models that separate the user interface layer (such as a html) from the application logic (software implementing what are often called "business rules" that control the application), and the data management software that manages the database itself. At this level of "zooming out," database more generally refers to a conflation of data and the DBMS that manages it. In systems modeled in three tiers, the data access layer is most often considered as the tertiary layer. [22] Although there are important aspects to the relationship between the DBMS and the store that I will touch on, a "zoomed out" perspective of database in computation is for now most useful in terms of getting a sense of how database is formally situated in contemporary systems.

The database tier is not necessarily isolated or discrete. Viewed from this tiered perspective, it is important to note that even the database layer can be distributed across multiple physical locations, just as the other tiers themselves may be. Various functions of data processing and storage can be spread out between multiple DBMS installations located physically in corporate / government headquarters, secure sites, or even on end user systems such as peer-to-peer applications. [23] End user systems are commonly fed by multiple secure data centers, co-location sites, server farms, backup sites, or other peers that ensure -- above all else -- redundancy and backup for data assets, but also for technical issues such as geographic load balancing. Database servers organized in three-tier (often exploded into complex N-tier) configurations allow a data flow that is distributed: not between no-place and every-place, but between somewhere(s) and potentially anywhere within a global (arguably solar [24]) reach. Web servers, web services [25], and database servers typically exist physically as separate machines, or even as virtual servers [26], in many different locations. Grid computing and peer-to peer computing take this all a step further, creating a network context for computation where the tiers instantiate whenever and wherever they need to (or want to) by accessing mobile (from a network perspective) resources, with facilities for discovery and description of services. [27] So while a database is just an organized store of data in theory, database, in de facto terms, often refers to data management software executing on specially configured database servers -- perhaps connected to a SAN (storage area network) or a peer-to-peer network -- but in any case accessing data stores that exist in a third or deeper tiers, most often connected by TCP/IP networking. In order to leave behind us, and perhaps to leapfrog over, our art / cultural tardiness regarding the social implications of database, we need to consider database in these computational terms.

The illusion that an Ebay or an is "one site" exists at the user interface level. "There is no discrete computer." [28] At the same time, these applications maintain identity. For artists, this implies that how software maintains identity in a distributed physical medium is a key issue culturally. As an aside, it also implies that the international "net art" movement of the mid- to late 1990s, operating under the assumption of a network meme, was for the most part not a formal "network" movement. If the network is the computer [29] in a formal sense, then net art was always fundamentally computer art, albeit a movement with a special concern for the communicative aspect of data transport. But how is identity maintained, given a holistic view of ubiquitous computation as a medium? The base of the entire technical complex (the lowest tier) is the database tier. If form maps to technical foundation, computer art is all about data. How data is processed, transported, and viewed is more about the how than what. Form over content.

Although software and network (also various protocols allowing these to be implemented) have been privileged memes for artists, the fact is that the very object and objective of computation has always been data and its potential for yielding information through processing, even when machines were "hard-wired" single function devices and data organization was simple and sequential. That this desire and activity of processing data well predates contemporary digital processing is simply an indicator of the very self-evidence generated by the question: what motivated the development of computational techniques (for example algebra) and much later electronic computers, software, and networks in the first place? For what resources and to what end? It was data -- the realization that meaningful facts could be placed into a symbolic form and processed into something useful -- and the challenges involved in processing data, that inspired the development of all the latter. Cybernetics and screen culture are certainly important considerations for artists and critics. I do not call them into challenge in any way. But what I want to clarify is that the a priori motivation for computation is data and data processing. Data (and by extension database) turn out to be the motivating foundation and basis of computation. The fact that this formal influence -- conceptually and aesthetically -- has been, to some degree, historically overlooked by artists says a great deal about our plight, especially in relation to the sciences. [30] Therefore, understanding the parameters of database as technical form is a critical foundation for computer artists moving forward.

Zooming back into the conceptual level of the DBMS and the data store, we can observe that they provide an abstraction between the physical data, based on a database model, and logical structure of the data, based on a human-defined logical model describing the facts being stored. [31] The database model (i.e. relational or object-oriented) specifies the characteristics of the DBMS and its related data store, whereas the logical model describes the societal view of the systems being modeled. Take, for example, a sales database containing products, customers, and suppliers, or a GIS database of geo-locations, geo-names, and land use. It is at the level of the logical model that database interfaces with the "business rules" of application logic. In order to position the contemporary zeitgeist of database logic we need to give some attention to the interface between physical and logical at this level as well.

In database development, the negotiation between the physical organization of data (database model) and the social organization of data (logical model) is what determines many important aspects when it comes to how easily and for what kind of output the data can be processed by various algorithms. Different applications of data imply not only different logical models (first name, last name, address, phone number) but also different database models, such as hierarchical, network, relational, object-oriented, multi-dimensional. Today's dominant database model is the relational database model, developed by IBM researcher E.F. Codd in the early 1970s. It utilizes entity and attribute containment of data characteristics (metadata) in order to facilitate data processing. Data is logically modeled in tables of rows and columns, where the names given to the tables represent a tracked entity; the columns represent individual attributes of those entities; and the records represent individual instances of the general entity. Tables can be related to one another by using unique key values, thus allowing redundant data to be mitigated. By naming the attributes of data, and abstracting the location of the data into named tables representing entities, the relational database allows for strictly prescribed semantics and data typing.

The use of common query language interfaces such as the structured query language (SQL) enables a very flexible abstraction between the logical representation of data and the structure in which it is physically stored. This allows ad hoc queries to be formed, whereas older hierarchical and network database implementations required logical data modeling to take into account the questions that would be asked of the data at design time. These properties have made the relational database and SQL, the structured query language, popular for data analysis and the management of large data sets since, formally, the relational data model allows for more robust searching and data mining operations to be performed in the gap between the logical (societal) and physical data models. This is a critically important fact for artists to take into account. The relational database model (and its successor, the multi-dimensional database), form the technical basis for most data mining: the search for heretofore unknown relations within and between data sets. This is the technical form through which the power relations altered by nomadic data bodies and their control by the invisible elite are mediated. It is what made Wal- Mart the biggest retailer on earth, and Oracle the second largest software company behind Microsoft, which, by the way, sells a very industrially important product with an increasing market share, Microsoft SQL server. Not surprisingly, SQL server is presently just as important to Microsoft's monopolist ambitions as their Windows operating system is. Political artists working with computation must ask where they have been during the time when database, and relational database in particular, became a mediator of (by today) almost every financial transaction on the planet. [32]

Perhaps the tertiary imagination of database has been an additional influencing factor within the arts -- beyond the lag / slow uptake and lack of sexiness of database. Perhaps information technology, in a postcolonial sense, dissimulates its own power center, hiding it behind the discourses and aesthetics of user interface and application logic, the first and second tiers, respectively. There is a literal lack of visibility of database behind the explicit visibility and interactivity of user interface and its code. Perhaps this has encouraged many artists to pursue the visual artifacts of computation and the software coding that enables human computer interface, leading to a narrow aesthetic focus on interface, and political focus on access. Perhaps. But if mere lack of visibility was in some sense hiding database from the artists' radar, this would hardly square with the excessive interest that artists have shown in network communication. As witnessed by the international net art movement of the late 1990s, the transport of data (communications) once again seemingly became a major meme in spite of a similar lack of visibility, whereas the storage and management of data did not. Whatever the reasons -- which are certainly more diffuse than I could explicate -- "Database Art" did not take form as a broad art world meme. But where the meme has manifested is, not too surprisingly, as database visualization.

Toward Database Art: Beyond Visualization
The major objection that could be raised at this point is that there is there have indeed been many recent projects that explicitly utilize database, particularly in the mode of data visualization. There certainly have. But as Lev Manovich saliently indicates, artists working with data visualization are in some ways culturally snapped to narrow ranges of potential formal expression; something about the pictorial cultural / semiotic assumptions that adhere to artists even after conceptualism seems to imply that visualization is the "proper place" for artists working with data. Add to this the fact that other disciplines have no particular investment in or need from the arts regarding data visualization, and a certain isolation of artist visualization practices within the art ghetto seems likely. Of course it is very early in this particular history -- predictions are dangerous. But while the art world may pay some attention to such work, we can't ignore that there are already well developed visualization practices in other disciplines which may inhibit any potentially broader interdisciplinary impact of artist-created data visualization strategies, which of course implies that there are open questions regarding how artists might imagine / conjure a cultural space of influence relative to database practice in the first place. Manovich argues for a move from a concern
with data representation as a visual issue, which I would point out takes place always at the user interface or first tier, to a concern with the portrayal of human subjectivity amidst big data:

For me, the real challenge of data art is not about how to map some abstract and impersonal data into something meaningful and beautiful -- economists, graphic designers, and scientists are already doing this quite well. The more interesting and at the end maybe more important challenge is how to represent the personal subjective experience of a person living in a data society. If daily interaction with volumes of data and numerous messages is part of our new "data-subjectivity," how can we represent this experience in new ways? How new media can represent the ambiguity, the otherness, the multi-dimensionality of our experience, going beyond already familiar and "normalized" modernist techniques of montage, surrealism, absurd, etc.? In short, rather than trying hard to pursue the anti-sublime ideal, data visualization artists should also not forget that art has the unique license to portray human subjectivity -- including its fundamental new dimension of being "immersed in data." [33]

He refers to, among other works, Lisa Jevbratt's 1:1, Josh On's They Rule, and John Klima's Earth, all of which are interactive visualizations of data. Thus we can infer a key question: is being immersed in data exclusively a matter related to visual (or textual) cul ture, as typified by the types of screen-based (or scree-mediated) projects that Manovich is examining, [34] or are there are other societal modes of interaction with data which are ripe for exploration by artists? Are we also immersed in data when Wal-Mart, the organization with the most powerful database and computing systems in the world, monopolistically cuts its prices based on database-driven analysis enabled by their massive intelligence corporate / retail spy network? Or when the carrot juice we purchase from a cooler at a local market is fresh? Or when our credit report and other background checks determine the outcome of financial transaction such as a home purchase? Or when a package arrives at your house on time? Or the police arrive at your door?

Immersion in data is not only screenal in nature, though computer screens are certainly part of the social distribution of "what happens" in one way or another. Data is truly integrated and inter-operative not only in our immersive experience of computation and data before the user interface, but also as part of a socially distributed cognition that influences everything that happens socially. Ubiquitous computing driven by database has been with us for many years; perhaps we don't always imagine it "off the screen" because we don't always directly witness the data flow (though perhaps apparent on someone else's screen) involved in almost every transaction from a daily, lived, being-inthe world perspective. In a Heideggerian analysis of the situation, we may not really understand database until it is broken -- perhaps causing your ATM to no longer work, or producing a long cue at the supermarket, or causing a medical error, or the quite severe personal consequences of identity theft. Or rotten carrot juice. Database is total and totalizing.

Conclusion: Database as Third Attractor
Database impinges far beyond visualization in daily life -- so why should the analysis of database in the arts restrict itself to screen-based works? This is not an argument against visualization, however. It is simply a call for artists to be aware of visualization and human machine interaction as computational artifacts -- not the limit of possibilities. We need to explore a holistic practice that includes data as a mediating agent, allows data its say in a form of a two-way collaboration (instead of two-way subjugation), and possibly moves the body to behave in ways that are (at the extremes) arbitrary: as if by ceding certain control to the data body we regain a freedom to experience the data-mediated world through unfamiliar performances or
activities. This of course can only take place if the control of data is transparent, regulated, and democratic. But the resistance or reluctance of those who fear database to explore the possibilities of such mediation could also be a serious inhibitor to 21st century art. The potential exists for artists working with database to inflect the actual, projecting new activity [35], rather than merely reflecting data analytically or providing access to data through an alternative computer interface. I believe these speculations might answer Manovich's difficult question regarding the subjective experience of being-in-data by speculating on an expanded practice that is not necessarily screenbased. Visualization normally implies an attempt to interpret data, but this potential approach to database is to use it to generate / mediate alternative experiences and perhaps create new data for further analysis; enabling a database practice that is "off the screen" and in the world in ways as of yet largely unexplored by artists.

In the recent trajectory of art, modernism contained the seeds of the conceptual in terms of how increasing abstraction in the 20th century eventually revealed the medium itself. With the curtain lifted on the mechanics of representation, art was free to explore new abstractions such as idea systems, happenings and combinatorics. Conceptualism for its part contains the seeds of database in terms of organization and interpretation of collections -- the exploration of frameworks for presenting artifacts or social relations, and even place. [36] Now database enters both as technology and metaphor into the interoperation with modernism and conceptualism. Database is not a teleological break, but rather a third attractor whose influence is becoming more and more visible to artists. How it will interoperate will be born out in practice. But we can observe that the disruption of the binary oscillation of the modernist and the conceptual allows the influence of other, once thought antiquated, art attractors. Manovich may be correct that data visualization is anti-sublime, but this does not mean that database art need be. Indeed, at least part of the material interest I have expressed in my discussion of land art is purely romantic. Maybe there is room for the sublime in data art, but we should query for the other Los Angeles in South Patagonia in order to go there in a locative turn, specifically because the data made us do it, and not in order to visualize data.

[1] For example, Rudolph Schwartzkogler, regardless of the circumstances of his death.
[2] I intend this only from the perspective of the art object. Performances, screen-based art works and network forms all have their own material substrate, though they are not as concrete as place.
[3] The term currency intended in the sense of value by fiat.
[4] This assumes the hypothetical case that there exists any possibility of yet another "after" emerging from the circular logic of the art world. Maybe it is our fate as artists to let science go on without us for a few hundred more years while we spin, but I hope not. I ask that -- if there is nothing to disrupt the environment, the modern, and the conceptual in which artists today breathe and eat -- then let's try to go someplace that is, if not new, at least unvisited.
[5] Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media (The MIT Press: Cambridge, MA / London, 2001)
[6] Ibid. Manovich's use of the term transcoding refers to the interplay and mutual influence between computer science concepts and cultural concepts.
[7] I theorized this process in Database Logic(s) and Landscape Art (originally 2002), dscape_art.pdf
[8] When the notion of the abstract as the antithesis of the concrete is operative, we are discussing the unreal. When the notion of the abstract as a formative influence on the real is operative, we are discussing physics.
[9] Lev Manovich, "Database as Symbolic Form,", Originally 1998. See also The Language of New Media, Chapter 5. Ibid. [5]
[10] Storage and memory were not separate notions at the time.
[11] I offer a brief genealogy of different database models in a research report for C5 corporation titled "Toward Autopoietic Database" (2001), html
[12] Jack Burnham, "Systems Esthetics" in: Artforum 7:1 (Sep 1968)
[13] Roy Ascott, "The Construction of Change" (original publication 1964), reprinted in The New Media Reader, ed. Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort (The MIT Press: Cambridge, MA / London, 2003)
[14] For example, the trade-offs between the speed of query (how fast the database can retrieve something) and the flexibility with which you can form queries (how arbitrary your questions can be) are expressed in the hierarchical and relational database models, respectively.
[15] Frank Dietrich, "Digital media: Bridges between data particles and artifacts" in: The Visual Computer 2: 135-151 (1986)
[16] Name June Paik, "Cybernated Art" (originally published 1966), reprinted in The New Media Reader. Ibid. [13]
[17] Lynn Hershman's Roberta Breitmore performance in the 1970s incorporated the creation of Hershman's alternative identity, including the acquisition of credit cards, and marked perhaps the first constructed (in a specifically social "database" sense) "data body" as part of an art performance; however, database is mostly implied here. More recently, artists have taken a significant interest in "database politics," examining the power relationships that emerge around information as private or public property. Many works by Natalie Jeremijenko, for example, have explored the political implications of database, quite stunningly.
[18] Critical Art Ensemble, The Electronic Disturbance (Autonomedia: New York, 1994)
[19] Again, refer to the work of Natalie Jeremijenko.
[20] Diane Ludin's IPB-e project (2002 - present),
[21] Victoria Vesna's Bodies INCorporated (1995 - present),
[22] Database is typically visualized as the bottom layer in diagrams depicting three-tier systems, with business logic in the middle and a presentation layer on top.
[23] Add to this notion some logic for automatic resource allocation and some flow control applications, and you essentially have grid computing.
[24] NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft is still sending data to Earth even as it nears the edge of the heliosphere, 0,1282,61106,00.html
[25] Web servers run an http program that serves pages at which people are supposed to look. Web services, by contrast, utilize http as transport, but instead of providing something to be looked at by humans, offer computational services for other distributed applications. XML, WSDL, SOAP, and UDDI are the markups and protocols for web services at this time.
[26] Servers can simulate multiple discrete servers.
[27] UDDI and WSDL respectively.
[28] Joel Slayton and Geri Wittig, "The Ontology of Organization as System" (1999),
[29] This phrase was once the slogan of Sun Microsystems.
[30] Data, by contrast, has certainly not been overlooked by science, which has maintained a holistic attitude toward data, computation, and communication -- instead of allowing aimless wanderings through the visual artifacts of computation.
[31] I make no commitment to any relationship between "fact" in a database sense, and truth in the philosophical sense.
[32] CAE, of course, excepted.
[33] Lev Manovich, "The Anti-Sublime Ideal in Data Art" (2002),
[34] Another piece mentioned by Manovich is Natalie Jeremijenko's live wire (1995). While it is not a screenbased work, Jeremijenko's installation is certainly a data representation.
[35] One could argue that Jevbratt's 1:1 does exactly this, because it exposes the unseen World Wide Web; enabling an exploration of the Web's back roads -- which as it turns out are mostly private, password protected domains, default installations of http servers, and forgotten sites. It is clear that her visualizations are not meant to represent data as much as allow alternative access to a space otherwise culturally defined by search engines.
[36] The finest example of the latter may be found in the work of The Center for Land Use Interpretation,

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