\ Joshua Decter \ Lari Pittman \ David A. Ross \ Peter Schjeldahl \ Benjamin Weil \ Q&A \

part1 ]
part2 ]
part3 ]
> [ part4 ]

Untraditional Activity...Media Art(ists)

JD: We can now show the Whitney Museum Web site, if you like?

DR: Oh!...That's fine. Why don't you just scroll through some stuff on it. But you know that the Web site is not just the extension of the traditional responsibilities of the museum.... That's our home page, and that's the little blue ribbon indicating that we are fighting censorship on the Net. Why don't you click on the building? I am not sure if this is a public experience, really; it's sort of like reading in public, and it takes so much time. Click on exhibitions if you like, and we will look at something traditional. People can get a preview of information about exhibitions that are available at the museum; this is fairly standard, and is part of our public relations responsibility to promote the traditional activities of the museum in the best way possible, bringing people into the building to experience works of art in the flesh. But for me what is most interesting is the idea that museums can open up a new space, analogous to the kind of activities that Benjamin will describe later in his activity which I admire a great deal on ada 'web. An artist can be commissioned to do new works, specifically for this new medium, and the museum can point to other works being done at ada 'web or at other sites around the world. I think looking at the Web in this public context is completely tedious, and actually I am not interested in doing this. It is not really a theatrical experience. It is a mistake to try to turn it into one; it involves too much reading, too much personal choice. What you can do with an audience on the Web--- the way an artist can move an audience from site to site, that you can walk in the front door of the Whitney and leave through the back door of the CIA headquarters--- these are things you cannot do in physical space. I mean not today, at least.

DIA has done some wonderful things. I think immediately of Tony Oursler's piece in which sound and text are used. Julia Scher and Jenny Holzer have started to tap into some of the distinctive qualities of the medium that I am anxious to see other artists start to explore. In Jenny's case ,she gave up authorship of her Truisms. She just put them out into the Web space, and you can grab them and rewrite them, and put them back. In a way, it suggests the end of that Holzer project; Jenny is probably done with Truisms now. Julia Scher has had a longstanding interest in security and observation and the way electronic systems, like the Web, the Internet, work both to liberate but also to observe and constrain us; she has created another one of her completely impossible failures that are both delightful and entrancing, and at the same maddening because of the way that they collapse within themselves. For me that level of failure and being able to program that into work as elegantly as she does is a sign of a rather extraordinary artist. I look through the Web a lot, and not very much blows me away. I believe that work will start to emerge in the next year or so, that will start to grab our attention and do important things to our consciousness.

The Whitney, and hopefully other institutions, will find ways of supporting, of rewarding, artists who enter into the dialogue with this new set of tools; to support artists who explore this new medium's distinctive qualities, and who examine the creative potential of the Web.

back | top | next