- Net Work on Network
Accepted for publication by Roger F. Malina.
This project is a net work in that it was created in a language that any ordinary modern web site could have been written in, i.e. Flash MX; however, our purpose was to build a network, not necessarily in the technical sense, of relations among local artists using a global medium.
The Net Work on Network project concerns a web site built entirely with deluxe graphics that is, however, unconnected to the main Web and is not published on-line. I tried to create a piece of web art based completely on fragments and excerpts provided by other creators working in video, sound, digital art, theater and performance. The result is that the theme disconnection from the Web is fully realized, in that our network represents a statement against the global, rhizomatic networks.
Although most users and spectators may expect a real network of computers, activating this work involves clicking an "off-line" button using the same web technology that puts most sites online. Users interact with this web art installation by using a mouse and a set of headphones to obtain access to the five major sections of the project. Each of these sections introduces users to the "disturbances" that on-line media usually avoid. Here, these so-called disturbances, "encryption," "disconnection," "virus," "interference" and "interruption," are explored artistically.
In order to build a network for each of these section themes, my collaborators Catarina Campino, Diogo Teixeira, Cláudia Galhós and Lígia Soares have provided textual and audiovisual elements for me to manipulate so as to make the work more plural, thus raising questions about the optimized plasticity of the digital and even the notion of authorship (Fig. 3).
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The objective of this web art site built for disconnection is to underscore a reaction to the media tendency of plugging in, connecting, inviting and associating elements. That is why I have created this defying and critical audiovisual installation. The main concern was to make nonglobal web art—a difficult prospect—by investing in the community feeling shared among the creators, who worked with me during the Kapitals 2003 initiative sponsored by the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian at its Centro de Arte Moderna José Azeredo Perdigão, in Lisbon, Portugal.
Our reaction to the ordinary and fashionable Web takes us a step further: Why not criticize the Web with its own supersonic and plastic structure, in order to question precisely its instability and omnipresence? That is quite a challenge, once we have taken for granted that the Web is mainly something global. After all, the true Web is latent in the links that have been established among its participants. In our context, we have used the Web in a subversive way without being subject to its rules. It was most interesting to us to shock a local audience using a global medium, without making too abstract what had been created locally and without globalizing the concept. There was also a silent feeling, a need to make some statement against the "digital divide" by underlining the "digital divided" (i.e. disconnected), and that is very evident in Net Work on Network. It shows the Web's transformation towards a total connectivity structure as it criticizes the rhizomatic face of the medium, embracing all the "disturbances" of communication as a plastic element of the real net work. What is in discussion here is: How far can we take the challenge of disconnecting a network from the big worldwide Network? How is that possible? [End Page 190]