On extracting data, and its art and craft.

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Data art started long before the internet, but for some of us, facebook (fb) for a long time served as our Cantarell Complex. On 2012 I accidentally began leaking it when I created drik magazine and later its archives. Today, quite more consciously, I can say beneath my internet data projects a reservoir of information has been formed, and this has happened on different data-based projects by other artists too.

Servers are attached to our soil just as onshore platforms are, soaking on data from all of their users. The internet is the equivalent of a pipeline but with the shape and function of an ouroboros. It’s a two-way pipeline, draining information from us and vomiting it back through our computers. Data flows through the internet into and from same wave territories (Santiago de Chile, Lima, DF, Nuevo Leon, Costa Mesa, and Washington DC) where we distill it through our computers in order to gather our resources, just as it happens in the rest of the world. The internet isn’t on the sky; we do not store data in clouds, we store it in servers. The floating internet concept is a lie in order to prevent us from realizing that the internet is grounded by a powerful tellurian nature.

On Cyclonopedia (Reza Negarestani), Dr. Hamid Parsani identifies oil as a tellurian lube. It’s the element that allows mankind to happen (contemporarily), and that is abundant on the gulfs of Persia and Mexico (among other places). Oil represents power and wealth, hence it represents control and sabotage too (ex: the Nationalization of Mexican Oil, the Arab Oil Embargoes, Saddam Hussein’s burning of the Kuwaiti Oil Wells, the Energetic Reform in Mexico, etc).

Data is quite similar to oil. Oil is the product of the passing of thousands of years, and information stays exactly the same. Oil wasn’t magically formed, and data inside the internet (and outside it) is never borne out of nothing. It is always the result of human life, and that is precisely why Lanier coined the concept of Digital Maoism (DM).

Sites like fb are considered great exponents of DM, since all the data they hold (and which constitutes the tellurian lube of the digital) has been uploaded by its users. At a glance it seems only fb profits from the data we gather for it, and in most cases this is true. However, fb and other companies’ profits depend on the behavior of its users. We need to fill DM with holes. We need to transform it into swiss cheese; then wait for data to fill the void and drain fb and other DM sites with no mercy.

Since the presentation of Swarm at ARS Electronica ’98 on the hands of the Electronic Disturbance Theater, in support of Digital Zapatismo and the victims of the Acteal massacre, art underlined how the concept of sitting gained effectiveness if it blocked the flux of data instead of the flux of people. In 1967, just a day after the Six Day War had begun, countries like Iraq, Kuwait, and Bahrain decided to use oil as a weapon and embargoed the US and the UK for supporting Israel. This led to the formation of the OAPEC, an organism that in 1973, executed a second embargo. This time the oil price was raised by 70% and the Arab countries stated their oil production would be reduced by 5% each month until Israeli forces left occupied territories in Syria and Egypt, which had been gained by Israel during the Six Day War. The embargo had little to no effect on the economy of the Arab nations, while all major markets of the rest of the world faced the 1973-74 Stock Market Crash.

We can use data as a weapon too. DM is not a house for data, data lives outside it. We control the production and digitalization of data, the tellurian lube that allows the existence of fb and other DM companies. We can pump data through it in order to drain what we’re looking for, and then pump it out in order to profit from it. This is why I believe 21st century art needs to be data-based.

The art world came into existence since the French Academia as a Napalmic entity, one made of an inextinguishable fire that can flow/flood into every corner of culture and won’t disappear until it consumes itself. It is this very nature which requires it to burn out. But it is its hunger for recognition and legitimization what has inspired it to generate strategies to keep the fire burning perennially. It’s because of this that art and culture have been burning all that surrounds them for centuries, becoming one of the communities of the world’s greatest enemies, and burning them ceaselessly too. This way, not even painting or sculpture were our friends. However this doesn’t mean they can’t ever be.

Data has been flowing through art since the beginning of art, just as oil has been there since the beginning of civilization. Art has also been used to gather data for centuries. We do not need to transform art into a data bank. Art has been a data bank since the beginning. We need to start controlling the data and its flux. Data has a liquid nature too; it tends to flow wherever it can, and we can make it flow through the art world (which today occupies important territories in education, power, business, economy, banking, and tourism, among other areas). The art world is nothing more than fog of war. It is the same fog described by John McTiernan’s The 13th Warrior, covering the Wendol and their serpent of fire while they murdered humans to consume them. By using data as a weapon and incorporating it into art, we can transform art into a gigantic tank in the fight for freedom that uses the same fog of war to strike with a powerful backlash. Art should no longer be a trigger for action, its time to counter back and use art as a war machine.    

alonso cedillo <ceo@nimda.co>

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With Joseph Nechvatal

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On Jul 12, 2014, at 10:09 PM, Katia Haus Moore wrote:  katiahaus@aol.com

Thank you so much!!! The Minóy book looks amazing and I’ve just downloaded it, and I’m currently reading immersion into noise.

K: Most of your work has to do with data and sound, how much did your early days as La Monte Young’s archivist have influenced on this?

JN: My early interest in data and sound and image came from my involvement in the No Wave scene in New York City while archiving the Fluxus collection of La Monte Young back in the late-70s and early-80s. The No Wave Colab (Collaborative Projects) scene was wildly interdisciplinary: visual artists playing in bands, acting in plays and films, writing poetry and theory, shooting Super-8 film, video, sculpture and audio while hanging out together at Clubs like Tier 3 and The Mudd Club. During the No Wave period, I was also reading Nietzsche while studying philosophy at Columbia University. It was in that fecund atmosphere that I decided that I would strive to interweave the two major trends in the history of art: the Apollonian and Dionysian.

By fusing the loose chaotic freedom of No Wave with the structured minimal conceptualism of a La Monte Young, I aimed to fuse hot post-conceptual chaotic disturbance with cool conceptual data forms. My smooth gray palimpsest drawings from that post-punk period – and the slick photo-blowups of the drawings – were an attempt at situating art somewhere between the surface of cold conceptualism and the chasm of shattering incoherence of post-conceptualism, where we must each pick through the meshwork and recover figurative meaning out of entangled ground.

K: What kind of projects did you developed with Colab and which one was the most important for you?

JN: In the early 1980s, myself and many other artists, were interested in the distributive capacity of art based in reproduction. Most were inspired by a 1968 essay The Dematerialization of Art by John Chandler and Lucy R. Lippard, as it argued that Conceptualism had a politically transformative aspect to be delved into. The other inescapable text at the time was The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (or Reproducibility) by Walter Benjamin. Important for my formation was when I produced the Colab sponsored show (with performances) simply called John Heartfield at ABC No Rio, held from November 1st to November 18th in 1983. Xeroxes and photomechanical blowups of John Heartfield’s (1891-1968) art, torn from a book, were the maquettes that I produced from. Reproductions of his anti-Nazi/anti-Fascist photomontages were wheat-pasted on the walls of ABC No Rio, walls that had been were painted a sinister black from top to bottom. I filled the space with audio collages by Bradley Eros and hit the streets with Mitch Corber, putting posters all over downtown: advertisements for the show along with powerful John Heartfield images.

Later, I organized The Art of John Heartfield event that was held at Kamikaze Club at 531 W 19th Street on March 21st 1984 that featured art or performance by Edwige, David Wojnarowicz, Bradley Eros, Kiki Smith, Doug Ashford, Aline Mare, Joe Lewis, Mitch Corber and Christof Kohlhofer, among others.

It seems impossible to understand in our age of ubiquitous cell-phone photography, but no photos were taken of any aspect of the John Heartfield events (that I know of).

K: Why did you decided to start the Tellus cassette series and which is the importance for you of making data banks, in this case a casettography?

JN: As the vital New York downtown scene continues to melt into rich yuppie fat, preserving the work of cutting edge artists of all sorts from that place and time (80s) seems more than worthy. Happily UBUWEB has archived Tellus in digal form here: http://www.ubu.com/sound/tellus.html.

Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine was created in 1983 by me, curator Claudia Gould, and Carol Parkinson, a composer and staff member of Harvestworks/Studio PASS. We met for drinks to discuss my idea of a magazine on cassette that would feature interesting and challenging sound works. With the advent of the Walkman and the Boom Box, we perceived a need for an alternative to radio programming and the commercially available recordings on the market at that time. We then began to collect, produce, document and define the art of audio through publishing works from local, national and international artists. Sometimes we worked with contributing editors, experts in their fields, who proposed themes and collected the best works from that genre. Unknown artists were teamed with well-known artists, historical works were juxtaposed with contemporary and high art with popular art, all in an effort to enhance the crossover communication between the different mediums of art – visual, music, performance and spoken word.

On Jul 17, 2014 Katia Haus Moore wrote:

K: How were your works and thoughts pushed during and after your work in Colab and which are de advantages and disadvantages of working collaboratively?

JN: I was influenced by Colab member Jenny Holzer and Colab associate Barbara Kruger. I was at the time photo-mechanically blowing up my small drawings, making Xerox books (Xerox was brand new at the time) and street posters. Even painting-centric artists like David Wojnarowicz, Walter Robinson, Justen Ladda, David Salle, Christof Kohlhofer and Anton van Dalen were examining reproduction and reproduction methods, like the silk-screen and stencil. Colab’s interests in Fluxus-like low-priced multiples (The A. More Stores and the Artists Direct Mail Catalogue – a co-production with Printed Matter), newsprint publishing (X Magazine, Spanner, Bomb), No Wave film production and screening, video and cable T.V. (Potato Wolf and the MWF Video Club), live art performance, audio cassette publishing and mail art distribution networks (Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine) have marked me for life. This all brought me closer to Dick Higgins’s intermedia approach to art.

K: Would you say that the work you produced after Colab, specially your  paintings, are collaborations with machines and computer viruses?

JN: Not really, as I do not give up control over them

K: How have you seen that computers have changed the way we work with data and information?

JN: I see computers and art as a means of practicing politics on one level. In the mid-1980s I could already observe the coming rise of electronic media (computational media, more precisely) as the controlling, organizing force of social power. I felt that to adequately address this topic I should approach it from inside of electronic medium, and not from an artisanal pre-electronic practice.

K: Which is for you the importance of data?

JN: Working as an archivist for LaMonte Young, meeting John Cage, and learning of the famous “9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering” of 1966 that Robert Rauschenberg helped organize with the engineer Billy Kluver was salient to my formation in this regard. Rauschenberg understood that through the mediation of chance and machines, data can be contorted, thus changing our awareness of what technology is or can be. 

On Aug 5, 2014, Katia Haus Moore wrote: 

K: Do you believe in Singularity and on Kurzweil’s idea of Spiritual Machines?

JN: No.

K: The Attractions of Cybism was never realized and is a key point on your work and art theories. What was it about? And is it important for you to keep it unrealized?

JN: Cybism is an art theory term I developed as a sub-division of viractuality at the turn of the century. I proposed the concept for an exhibition that never was realized, but the idea of Cybism was developed into a paper that I delivered at ECAM (Encuentro de Ciencia y Arte) in 2008 at the invitation of Juan Díaz Infante in Mexico City. 

Cybism is a sensibility emerging in art respecting the integration of certain aspects of science, technology and consciousness – a consciousness struggling to attend to the prevailing current spirit of our age. This Cybistic zeitgeist I identify as being precisely a quality-of-life desire in which everything, everywhere, all at once is connected in a rhizomatic web of communication. Therefore, Cybism is no longer content with the regurgitation of standardized repertoires.

K: I understand viractualism as a term that has to do with our immersion into a work of art. However I believe Cybism, though it’s a division of Viractuality, is more about connection. How did the internet influenced you on both terms? Do you think they could exist without it?

JN: For me, viractualism and cybism is best understood as emerging from the vast incognizant digital totality of the internet within which we currently live; an immense digital assemblage-aggregate which in cybist manner is experienced as exceeding our usual sense of lucidity.

Read immersion into noise: 

http://openhumanitiespress.org/immersion-into-noise.html

Read Minoy:

 http://punctumbooks.com/titles/minoy/

We’re playing a game, a game that we all can change, and it’s all about copying.

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Create and creativity have the same root which is the latin word creātus, the past passive participle from the verb creāre ‘to create’. Hence creativity is the ability to create. It doesn’t matter what you create. If you create you are creative.The verb in itself is from a Proto-Indo-European root *ḱerh₂- whose original meaning seems to have been ‘grow’. Creāre is kind of a conflation of stem forms but it is in essence an old causative verb. Its original meaning was ‘to make [something] grow’.

 

Making something grow is only a small step away from creating it, and that’s the path the verb took within Latin. In Latin, thus, the sense of ‘grow’ was relegated to the original inchoative verb (‘to start growing’), crēscere, which is found in English loanwords such as ‘crescent’ and ‘crescendo’.The word “create” appeared in English as early as the 14th century to indicate divine creation. However, its modern meaning as an act of human creation did not emerge until after the Enlightenment. The Age of Enlightenment in the late 17th-century Europe emphasized reason and individualism rather than tradition. Over the course of the last decades, we seem to have reached on a general agreement that creativity involves the production of novel, useful products. But the truth is that creativity can also be defined “as the process of producing something that is worthwhile to someone” or “characterized by expressiveness and imagination”.The problem here is that we’ve been taught that originality is a basic characteristic of creativity. But the truth is that as creativity is a mind skill that allows us to make an idea in any area, the adjective original is just unapplicable due to it’s nature as a skill. Creativity is just something each one of us can develop for his/her persona.  Creativity is essentially not a kind of knowledge or science but, it is a skill kind, that may be improved through various methods. Hence, creativity is an almost steady ability to generate concepts with no time, age, kind, manner, way, technics, advantage, efficacy and subject limitation and restriction. That means, 1) that copying is one of the most valuable resources of creativity, and 2) that something creative is not necessarily or entirely new.

What is produced can come in many forms and is not specifically singled out in a subject or area, and of course it can be produced and distributed on an area outside high culture’s. That’s the reason why creativity isn’t something exclusive of the arts, and why it’s one of the main characteristics of the human being. The deal is that one of the fields with the greatest desire of possessing and owning everything is the one of art & culture industry, and one of their biggest claims is creativity, but they do not own it, no matter what they do.
Σαυτον ισθι (Nosce te ipsum or know yourself) is one of the Delphic maxims, and according to the greek travelogue Pausanias, it was inscribed in the pronaos of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi (Description of Greece 10.24.1). Two other Delphic maxim are Γνωθι μαθων (know what you’ve learned) and Εχων χαριζου (give what you have). The first maxim I mentioned (and perhaps the most famous) can be achieved easier through creativity. Creating objects, texts, decors, pottery, etc, is a nice way of knowing ourselves. Only when you create is when you see yourself reflected on your creation. The word “creation” has been linked to god since the Genesis. Perhaps that’s why we believe that only a few can create. But the truth is that just as the bible claims that God created us on his image, when we create things we also do it based not on his image but on the image of our persona. That’s why creating is an excellent way of knowing ourselves. 
 
Since the renaissance (or probably even earlier) we’ve been working with the same ideas, and we even were granted more freedom when artists like Richard Prince, Barbara Kruger and Sherrie Levine appeared. The second maxim I mentioned fits here, “know what you’ve learned”. We need to be conscious on how the act of copying feeds art, and how copying improves our creativity. We need to understand what we have learned, but more importantly, we need to accept it. The third maxim I mentioned, and perhaps the more important for an artist (or a person that’s struggling to establish him or herself as an artist), has to do with the acceptance of our uniqueness. The world is not the only one that needs to accept what we create, we need to accept it too. It’s the struggle of knowing yourself and knowing what you’ve learned, so you can know what you truly have, and figure out how to share it. We all have something to give, and perhaps the ones that successfully do it, no matter what they give, are the real artists. If we were all artists I’m sure art could change the world. But the way we’re doing it, I’m sure things will never change.

 

 

<alonso@prizon.mx>