"question and answer" sessions......2001. Stanza.

You are an artist - what kind of artist are you? What mediums do you experiment with?

I am a digital artist. However I make paintings, videos and conceptual pieces as well as multimedia work and electronic music and video. Most of my time at the moment is spent making works for the web.

Can you define net art for us?

Work which use the protocols of the net as a medium. The work has to be net specific, designed for the internet, will use elements of html, javascript, and could also incorporate flash, shockwave and java. Net art is such a new art forms the aesthetics a still evolving and its in a similar position to video art in the mid seventies. Net art is global, interactive communication. It relatively cheap to make and it is not a restricted by the economics of the artworld as the holy grails of the fine arts, ie painting sculpture and now photography.

Do you think the idea of artists working practise is enhanced by the internet, ie do you think the internet enhances a sense of community, or do you think artists are still isolated by the very nature of their practise?

Quite a contradiction, but generally most artists are still working on their own, although the internet can and does allow faster dissemination of these artworks and ideas. Everything is in the public realm as soon as its on the net. The artworks themselves may be enabled group activity, but even on large projects its a group of individuals. We have yet to see real shared collaborative interdisciplinary endeavours that are sucesfull. However I think thats only a matter of time and politics.

Do you think netart deals with any specific ideology or themes?

I use the urban metaphor a lot in work, I suppose I use it for obvious reasons. The nature of the web as a network has a direct parallel to a real world metaphor as the city. I think of vast utopian cities, babel towers scarred with roads. Not unlike masses of cables, with packets of zeros and ones flowing through their veins. However I have always been using the city as a central motif in my work. My idea was to develop analogies for the organic identity of the city as an urban community and make links with electronic networks and virtual communities. The form and content of my work is the visual world of the city and its structure. A visual labyrinth, a maze of circumstance. The city itself is always changing; it is always in flux. Each aspect of city life seems to demonstrate specific characteristics, which can be developed into individual parts of the labyrinth, making up the images that will be used. The metaphor of the grid is paramount for the net. The grid is important right through the whole art history of western painting which is all 'snapped to a grid', ie that of the frame, the rectangle. This grid is fixed, now we have a lateral shifting grid or a manifestation of it. The whole of western painting is painted within a grid and the importance of the grid in urban design so prevalent in our real environments like New York and Barcelona . Artists working within digital cultures see obvious connection between digital networks of information technology and the www. The internet that has become the 'grid' many artists are exploring for a multitude of reasons and experiments, this is the real grid of our new media age that artists have actually 'snapped' to. Visit any art college and the plastic arts are conspicuous for their absence. In most art colleges the casual observer would be forgiven for thinking they were in an tax office block. It is here that the parameters of any aesthetic of the new media age is being formed, and within the networks of students trying to communicate ideas on these networks of machines. Yes the winds of change are here, but specific ideology or themes can be left for now.

Do you think there will be a commercial value to net art and does this have any meaning or value to you?

Why not, most things do these days. On one level once money gets involved certain ideals get corrupted, on the other hand its by making it a commodity; it allows a marketplace for artists to make a living from the work. The problems is who controls these markets; usually is isn't the artists. Artists generally don't ever make much money from their work. I would prefer to see a fairer distribution of wealth among artists. I feel its time to stop giving money to organisations that then redistribute money based on their own agenda.

Why did you create the website (s) ?

Because one can publish and exhibit to a worldwide audience immediately, without an intermediary or middle man , without a curator, and without distribution. The production costs to reach this audience is cheaper also. The nature of the web allows greater freedom from censorship at this present time and because its is still evolving its language is also allows greater freedom of expression.

The web allows for integrated networks of information and a whole new world of mediated possibilities.

What plans do you have for these works?

With netart specific works; these works exist on the net. With multiuser areas, streaming audio files and interactivity. They can of course be remade for art galleries.

What are you trying to express through your work?

My artistic intervention lies with looking at fragments of our experience of cities that make up the whole city. The central city is a place which appear out of control but which we try to control through design. The city as grids and repetition can appear sublime or it can confuse and appear prison like.The grid for painting, the grid for the city, the rectangle of western art. This grid is ever expanding cover the whole surface growing and crawling to the edges. The fascination of cities are both their similarities and differences. Familiar forms and identities and sounds are common to all cities and yet each have special forms that separate and identity particular places and spaces. These works are "investigations into what the possibilities are for art in relationship to multimedia and the world wide web; and how this fits into the art world. My initial response in the central city project was to de-construct a language of urban and city environment and build it back up to try to constitute both a new form and new meaning. By placing oneself in the middle of this particular structure meaning or aesthetic experience is only encountered when you decide to move from any one place to the next. Much like a city. But this is not simulation. I use these small fragments as rhythms to interact with the next part, and evolve into something new. If you keep coming back to the same place, find the experience of that place changes. Things may remain the same but you interpretation of them may change. I have never seen any of this work in terms of poetry always musicality, rhythm , textures and musical ambience.

In general, where do you go for inspiration?

On the net, I like to just browse and get lost to see where it takes me. Outside the door, I like juxtaposing urban sounds and sights, going for long walks in urban districts and collecting images of towers, maps, and the sounds of the city. Other things that relate to my work include motifs of urban design de-constructed and repeated in a grid. Networks of information technology , organic networks, and city networks.

Does your work reflect your personal vision of the world?

No not really, this isn't what my work is about. But maybe this is just one of those questions that answers itself. Maybe I would add by contradiction that I guess it must reflect some part of how see the world. But as I said above I don't see this a simulation in any way.

As an artist, what does it mean for you to exhibit work on the internet?

On one level access to a possible audience without bothering with galleries and exhibitions. On the other its also very time consuming, sorting out the technical difficulties, and fixing problems. However this is an interesting aspect to the internet. It seems to have much more freedom for artists at the moment that for instance the restrictive practice of painting which seems only relevant to an economic market place. I suppose I get round this by putting as much material on the internet even representations of my paintings.

What do you think of the net and it's possibilities?

Fantastic, and its really only just the start for art on the net and network specific projects, that will become more elaborate technically and more complex in terms of aesthetic.

In your opinion, what kind of impact has the web had on the art world, commercially and aesthetically?

Possibly not much, yet. Most of the net for galleries and commercial enterprises seems to be about being or not being left out, so arts orgs are putting up lots of works and galleries are trying to sell works but so much of it is badly done and not really relevant. This will change fast though.There is also starting to be exposure of net art in touch art institutions. But by and large they still see their own website as brochure-ware for the contents of their galleries and the bookstore.

The impact is probably probably more limited because artists will have to approach funding bodies, to produce the grander ideas. So on the one hand the aesthetic will be driven by the maverick individuals who believe if you build it they will come; and on the other hand funding bodies that cough up large sums of money for artworks that have to fit a pre defined agenda, or rather groups of artists who will only produce works if they get the funding. I also just don't see the private artworld producing money to invest in their artists to develop ideas like the record industry does. Take video art, even the very top galleries get arts council money to put their artists and artworks on display. My guess is that the artworld will see this a commodity like any other and will figure out a way to exploit all this commercially. On the net its the artists who decides who exhibits, within the institutions , its a curator.

How will 'art' develop with these new technologies? The future?

I don't know the how, but that point is not as relevant as that fact that it WILL develop. All these new technologies will affect all areas of our lives in some ways both good and bad. The future is as always, what we make it. The collective belief in the internet at the moment leads to much optimism, but things change. The love affair with the net may be ending its first phase and after this honeymoon we will see.

And finally, creatively, where are you heading?

Away from linear?pieces into a more non linear and interactive experience giving the audience more control over the artwork and allowing you to experience different artworks depending on how you choose to navigate. I am making more works for my amorphoscapes series. Now at is own url . They can also be made as offline interactive installations triggered by movement and time. But the interesting thing is, I made them for the internet first. Amorphoscapes are journeys and experiments in audio visual sensual pleasure.

Stanza is a London based British artist who specialises in net art, multimedia, and electronic sounds. His award winning online projects have been invited for exhibition in digital festivals around the world, and Stanza also travels extensively to present his net art, lecturing and giving performances of his audiovisual interactions. His works explore artistic and technical opportunities to enable new aesthetic perspectives, experiences and perceptions within context of architecture, data spaces and online environments.

Stanza is founder, curator, designer, and hosts is a stanza project

Stanza online projects. (stanza main site) (version 6) (generative paintings) (audio visual browser) (dna artworks) (city aural experiences) (online audio visual arts)

Stanza Awards.

Nesta Dreamtime Fellow 2004 + Videoformes media Prix 2005 + Aim V. first prize USA 2004 + Vidalife 6.0 first prize 2003 + Fififestival Grand Prize France 2003 + New Forms Net Art Prize Canada 2003 + Fluxus Online first prize Brasil 2002 + SeNef Online Grand Prix Korea 2002 + File Second prize Brasil 2002 + Links first prize Portugal 2001 + Videobrasil first prize Brasil 2001 + Cynet Art 2000 first prize Germany +


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