avant / garde / under / net / conditions (vormals: perspektive | issue 43 | 2002 )

code.poetry.loop | dada.lodge | experimental.bungees | mail.art.ocular | post.dogmatism | surreal.sheets | < theory.proxy > | visual.tray
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[/] interview (deutsch)
[/] interview (english)

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> mark amerika - [USA]
> david golumbia - [USA]
> gene youngblood - [USA]
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/->/ theoretiker der elektronischen medienkunst // gebiet: geschichte und theorie des experimentellen films und der videokunst // "Expanded Cinema" (1970) - das erste buch über video als kunstmedium // die verbindung zwischen avantgarde und metadesign wurde in seinem aufsatz "Metadesign" (in: Digitaler Schein (hrsg. von florian rötzer, suhrkamp 1991) erstmals erläutert. sein statement zieht nun eine aktuelle verbindung zu den metadesign-konzepten der 90er

>> Metadesign revisited
>> / interview /

// gene youngblood //


I created the concepts "metadesign" and "renaissance amateur" before the World Wide Web existed, and when the Internet itself was just beginning to be used by the general public. I was not thinking of the Internet when I conceived the idea of metadesign; I was thinking of the work of Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz (Electronic Cafe International). Their practice was so singular that I felt there was no term to describe it, so I called them metadesigners.

Meanwhile, for a different writing project, I was thinking about cultural revolution being synonymous with a communications revolution. I felt that there needed to be a new sociocultural space that would cultivate and support a new breed of cultural/political activist whom I called a renaissance amateur. The first term, "renaissance," reflected the need to create on the same scale as we can destroy. The second term, "amateur," reflected the need for an alternative to professionalism (i.e., commercialism) as a way of being in the world. I saw that only the Internet could provide the kind of sociocultural space that might support communities, or movements, of "renaissance amateurs."

Now, many years later, the first question is: are the creators of websites metadesigners? (By "creators" I don't mean website designers; I mean those who conceive the nature and purpose of the site). The answer is: only if the site is an environment for further cultural production by those who "use" it, not those who first created it. I believe such sites are, statistically, still very few. Almost any website can support an autonomous reality-community, but that does not make it an example of metadesign.

The second question is: do the new practitioners whom I called "renaissance amateurs" exist today on the Internet? Amateurs (doing it for love) certainly do thrive on the Net. But whether their practices constitute a "renaissance" -- enabling us to create on the same scale as we can destroy -- remains to be seen. At the moment, destruction, in the form of neoliberalism and globalization, still seems to be the dominant force in the world.

I believe it's a matter of intentionality: the extent to which people explicitly perceive (or conceive) themselves as metadesigners and renaissance amateurs. In the first case (metadesign), this means they would deliberately create linked websites as environments for further cultural production intended to enlarge and empower autonomous, countercultural reality-communities. In the second case (renaissance), it means that the amateurs who populate these reality-communities would come together as a global force capable of creating on the same scale as we can destroy. That has not yet happened. It will require an act of widespread political will, which in turn depends on recognizing corporate media as the most destructive force in the world today (because corporate media are the voice of neoliberalism and globalization), and, at the same time, recognizing that a noncommercial, universal-access, broadband Internet is the necessary condition of democracy.

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