This page contains materials intended
to facilitate class discussion (excerpts from readings,
outlines of issues, links to resources, etc.). The
materials are not necessarily the same as the instructor's
teaching notes and are not designed to represent
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to revision as the instructor finalizes preparation.
Preliminary Class Business
My special office hours today, 3-4, South
Hall 2509, to discuss the LCI
"Interactive" class next time on
Neuromancer and viral art
Reading Califia and Riven
Finishing Up with Neuromancer
My argument last time about choice, commitment,
and the "meat":
individuals as nodes in a networked whole
knowledge work, "Biz"
Tessier vision of future
Wintermute + Neuromancer
Transcendence of the individual:
"There's others. I found one already"
Ashpool vision of future
Turing law check on Wintermute
turning of the Straylight Villa)
Minimalist, zen identity
"Dance of biz"
or "art" of biz (e.g., Hideo, Case,
Molly, p. 44)
Artistic Responses to Postindustrialism
One view of the role of
art (specifically, information art) in the
From the section
on "The Rebirth of the Modern"
at the end of Richard Barbrook and Andy
Cameron's "The Californian Ideology":
of the new, digital artisans need to reconnect
themselves with the theory and practice
of productive art. They are not just employees
of othersor even would-be cybernetic
entrepreneurs. They are also artist-engineersdesigners
of the next stage of modernity."
avant-garde art and literature, Ezra
Another view of the role
of art (specifically, information art) in
the postindustrial age:
Case in Neuromancer
(an "artiste" of "biz"
whose art is hacking, viruses, and mental
martial arts, p. 262)
the 1980s there emerges into popular
culture the figure of cyberpunk hacker.
I read the cyberpunk hacker made popular
by novels like Gibson's Neuromancer
and Stephenson's Snow Crash,
as one who finds a way to participate
in the design, disruption and redirection
of the software environment, even
though he or she has been excluded
from the design team."
it new," but remember the ancient
arts. Not "make it new"
but break it open, break it apart;
Fistful of Dollars (1964) and
The contrast between these two views of the role
of art in today's age of postindustrial knowledge
work and information technology is symptomatic
of a large uncertainty about what the essential
function of artists, creative writers, and designers
will be in the future.
The uncertainty is caused by the way the new
business appears to undermine and appropriate
the rationale for contemporary art.
Rough sketch of past rationales for art (and
What is the rationale of contemporary art and
literature? The problem is that mainstream society
in the form of postindustrial business has taken
over the "make it new" ideology. Postindustrialism
is about "creative destruction," with
the emphasis on "creativity"
One major option being explored by contemporary
art: "destructive creativity."
Destructive Creativity: The
Case of Viral or Hacker Art
(1) A precedent: 20th-century "auto-destructive
from Metzger's 1965 lecture proposing large-scale
third project I would like to consider is
in the shape of a 30 ft cube. The shell of
the cube is in steel with a non-reflective
surface. The interior of the cube is completely
packed with complex, rather expensive, electronic
equipment. This equipment is programmed to
undergo a series of breakdowns and self-devouring
activities. This goes on for a number of years
- but there is no visible trace of this activity.
It is only when the entire interior has been
wrecked that the steel shell is pierced from
within. Gradually, layer after layer of the
steel structure is disintegrated by complex
electrical, chemical and mechanical forces.
The shell bursts open in different parts revealing
the wreckage of the internal structure through
the ever changing forms of the cube. Finally,
all that remains is a pile of rubble. This
sculpture should be at a site around which
there is considerable traffic."
(2) Contemporary digital example: Joseph Nechvatal's
Nechvatal's work in the 1980s:
Physical-media works that recombined
and recomposed "found" media
images: "intimately scaled graphite
drawings comprising saturated, interwoven
line tracings of pictures culled from
newspapers and magazines" (Barry
Conceptually destructive:"I tend
to degenerate archetypal media images,"
Nechvatal said in 1984. "I rip off
images from the media . . . then destroy/transform
them in the interests of unintelligible
beauty" (quoted in Carlo McCormick).
Alluded to the general destructivity
of contemporary technologies usually feted
for their innovation and creativity. Nechvatal:
"Images of mass annihilation wrought
by technology now provide the major context
for our art and our lives. With profoundly
disturbed psyches, modern people encounter
their existential fear in the atom, for
when technology relieved much of man's
fear of nature it replaced that fear with
one of technology itself" (quoted
in Frank Popper).
>Do you see
electronic media as obscuring communication?
ill.communication is ok
,makes good noise
(Mark Napier, interview with Jodi; quoted
in Sandra Fauconnier)
Information art is "hackerly"
viewer looks at our work, we are inside
his computer. There is this hacker slogan:
"We love your computer." We
also get inside people's computers. And
we are honored to be in somebody's computer.
You are very close to a person when you
are on his desktop. I think the computer
is a device to get into someone's mind.
We replace this mythological notion of
a virtual society on the net or whatever
with our own work. We put our own personality
there." (Baumgärtel, "
'We love your computer' ")
(4) Beyond Auto-Destructive Art: Critical Art
from "Electronic Civil Disobedience":
and tactics of ECD should not be a mystery
to any activists. They are the same as
traditional CD. ECD is a nonviolent activity
by its very nature, since the oppositional
forces never physically confront one another.
As in CD, the primary tactics in ECD are
trespass and blockage. Exits, entrances,
conduits, and other key spaces must be
occupied by the contestational
force in order to bring pressure on legitimized
institutions engaged in unethical or criminal
actions. Blocking information conduits
is analogous to blocking physical locations;
however, electronic blockage can cause
financial stress that physical blockage
cannot, and it can be used beyond the
local level. ECD is CD reinvigorated.
What CD once was, ECD is now.
must remember that ECD can easily be abused.
The sites for disturbance must be carefully
Metzger (site includes texts of his
"Earth to Galaxies: On Destruction and
Destructivity," "Manifesto Auto-Destructive
Art," "Auto Destructive Art - Machine
Art - Auto Creative Art," Entartete Kunst,
retrieved 17 Jan. 2001