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  • Performing the Network: Information for the Other Sides of Here
  • Cary Peppermint (bio)

Because I am a conceptual artist, a performance artist and a network artist, my work presents many problems.

My conceptual work has a location problem. Like most conceptual art, it is ephemeral by nature and does not reveal itself through the creation of a physical object. As the art of the idea—or as information art—conceptual art is sometimes difficult to discover, because one often has to think at it rather than look at it.

My performance work suffers from a classification problem. Performance art skirts the boundaries of a variety of art practices (painting, photography, theater, video, etc.). At its heart is the performer’s body and the live event or action; thus, like conceptual art, it is also ephemeral. Once the performance is over, some argue that the life, the vitality of the work has disappeared, revived only as a specter of its former self through documentation.

The problem of network art, digital art that involves the Internet and the culture of the Internet, is that of form. Digitization renders “objects” as binary code. Sounds, images, videos and texts are numerical data, zeros and ones without form recognizable to the human senses until processed through software and hardware. In short: different algorithms will produce different forms. As a result I often prefer to work within a protocol of what I call “digital readymades,” including GNU and commercial software, found code and web-based apps that allow for the quick use or plug-and-play creation of modular instruction-sets for the organization and reorganization of diverse media. Binary code’s leveling of media renders the production of a video not so different from a photo or a sound work. For example, I need not claim video so much as I need to claim information management as my “medium” of choice. Important to my practice is the use of search engines, downloads, the editing of found and sampled structures, cuts, pastes, algorithms for randomization, remixes, uploads and appropriate file formats for the distribution of information.

My network art is performance art, my conceptual art is network art and my performance art is conceptual art. The collapse of these fields within digital and network art allows me a freedom of play where both old and new models can be immediately re-configured and experience is accelerated through open-ended and unexpected outcomes. Because of the decentralized basis of the Internet, alternative space can be quickly occupied via a blog or an online auction, established with an email account, or acquired in part through the registration of a domain name.

Video art was once heralded as a practice of immediacy because of its “shoot and play” properties. Network art is practice of hyper-immediacy because of its ever-present connectedness. It moves information at unprecedented speeds and resonates to the real-time spectacle of global capitalism. The network is always on. These are the difficult and exciting conditions for performance of the network. My work is searchable, transferable, and re-writable all on demand. My work carries the potential for non-linear, omni-directional movement that could propagate far beyond its initializing sequences. Recurring questions of my practice include how, what and when to modify, update, distribute, release and delete in order to maintain an online body, a web presence.

Choosing to code myself as an artist, I am free to imagine the network. I imagine it as an unstable organism that at its most democratic serves up possibilities for unlimited update and revision, viral performance capabilities. Through my practice, I have developed a concern for the continuance of free and creatively infused information that interrupts hysterical modes of consumerism through networked theater. This theater has included Evites to parties that neither begin nor end, Ebay auctions for wood and balloons, and hundreds of movies posted to YouTube wherein I can’t ever stop dancing because of my excitement over low APRs.

My body of work is served up via a database of performances of the network that complicate old media distinctions between the live event and the recorded, fixed document. challenges the...


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pp. 345-346
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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