Blurting In A & L
Author: John Abbate Posted: 20.12.2002; 01:58:23 Topic: Question 6 Msg #: 632 (in response to 428) Enclosure: Prev/Next: 631/633 Reads: 70109
Thomas, I agree with your analysis and your identification of the split between what Art & Language says and what it does today, particularly where the work appears to deal with the issues of plagiarism and copyright, for it ignores the area where these issues are most pointed and current: the internet. All the arguments you put appear valid. However, I would suggest that the contemporary work of Art & Language is, generally, too far removed from any form of avant-gardism (other than via meta-linguistic commentary on the past), let alone the "new-media avant-garde", to be seriously critiqued from that perspective. On that front, you are correct to call it "disengaged." This does not in any way de-value your assessment of their early work and its relevance for the problems associated with net.art and the internet more broadly. You argue convincingly here. Blurting in A&L seems to me to be a perfect hypertext document; it fits like a glove. My comment about the figure of the hacker was merely to suggest that the potential to lapse into disengaged formalism is not medium-specific, something which often gets forgotten by curators and artists engaged by new-media. The question is, what constitutes value here? And if we are going to jettison all notions of aesthetic value, then how is a "media activist" an artist? It is not clear to me why someone who "work[s] for basic conditions of possible art practices" should be characterized as an artist instead of, or as well as, an activist. You must be proposing some model of artistic practice that is both new and meaningfully distinct from forms of everday engagement with the pragmatics of existence to posit an activist as an artist, or else the artist/activist's relation to the "old" art models and institutions is purely negative or parasitic, rather than dialectical.