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15 Debra A. Castillo Primary Materials ● Mejor Vida Corp. (MVC), created by Minerva Cuevas (web-based nonprofit corporation, 1997–present) ● Transborder Immigrant Tool (TBT) by Ricardo Domínguez, Micha Cardenas , Amy Sara Carroll, and other collaborators in b.a.n.g. lab’s Electronic Dis­ turbance Theater (GPS system with experimental poetry) N has been around for more than twenty years as of this writing , reaching a peak in the early 2000s and morphing more recently into what are often called “post-Internet” aesthetic projects. Originally parodying the kinds of pretensions (and the contemporary commercial snob appeal) retroactively associated with avant-garde art movements, practitioners of the loosely connected group of artists associated with quickly developed their own theoretical and aesthetic core through the writings of scholar-artists like Mark Amerika, whose widely distributed Avant-Pop Ma­ nifesto is one of the signal contributions in thinking about the intersections of new media technologies, artistic practice, and the emergent self in the times of Web 2.0.1 Unsurprisingly, for a (non)movement in which the critique of conventional/commercialized art world legitimacy has always been a primary point of entry, there has also always been a subset of practitioners 294 Debra A. Castillo who quickly focused on exploring the potentiality of the networked web art medium for other kinds of critique, including for more overtly political-aesthetic purposes: tactical media art, for instance, which brings into question the highly corporatized forms of accessing media (browsers, navigation, advertisements , et cetera) through deployment of such tactics as pop-up interventions; or hacktivism, often using the mechanism of denial of service attacks or the aesthetic possibilities of manipulating the HTTP 404 (web page not found) error. Fifteen years later,the same artists find themselves living in radically different times,as Artie Vierkant writes in 2010,in a trenchant critique of earlier efforts :“New Media is here denounced as a mode too narrowly focused on the specific workings of novel technologies, rather than a sincere exploration of cultural shifts in which that technology plays only a small role. . . . In the Post-Internet climate, it is assumed that the work of art lies equally in the version of the object one would encounter at a gallery or museum, the images and other representations disseminated through the Internet and print publications, bootleg images of the object or its representations, and variations on any of these as edited and recontextualized by any other author.”Michael Connor adds:“It no longer makes sense for artists to attempt to come to terms with ‘internet culture,’because now ‘internet culture’ is increasingly just ‘culture.’ In other words, the term ‘postin­ ternet’suggests that the focus of a good deal of artistic and critical discourse has shifted from ‘internet culture’as a discrete entity to the reconfig­ uration of all culture by the internet, or by internet-enabled neoliberal capitalism.” Walter Benjamin would be cheering: finally, the work of art has lost its pretensions to aura, while retaining a cutting-edge focus on the intersection of culture and capital. From its founding, has always had a strong Hispanic participation, and many of the key early artists combined activism with their aesthetic work, a commitment that continues in post-Internet interventions. One of the most prominent early practitioners, Daniel García Andújar (Spain), remains one of the most internationally visible figures. His elaborate website, available in nearly twenty languages, speaks to his fundamental creative role among technologically influenced artists as well as to his commitment to social change, as evidenced already by his early Technologies To The People Foundation and his domain (still the host of Minerva Cuevas’s Mejor Vida Corp., about which more will be said below).One of his typical early creations was the “Street Access Machine”(figure 15.1), which Iris Dressler describes as 295 a combination system made up of reading device, special credit card, and public online access, which allows the homeless and other fringe groups to enter the world of plastic money and E-commerce. The trademark-protected “Street Access Machine,” whose design announced the i-Mac Generation in 1996, is perfectly marketed with a corporate identity and comprehensive advertising cam­­ paign—flyers, posters, and merchandising materials. Nothing is missing except the corresponding product. Andújar is not concerned with virtual capital for all, but more so with naming the structures of exclusion so gladly denied during the...


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MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
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