Geert Lovink on Mon, 18 Aug 1997 11:56:37 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> movement or medium -- an answer to Jordan Crandall

nettime: movement or medium?

I feel the need to answer Jordan's questions. So far, Pit and I have been
carefull to go too deep into the question of what nettime 'is'. In our
view, nettime is still open and the direction(s) can get lost if dig too
much into it's short history. Jordan's project Blast deals with
the organisation of artistic practices. He is not afraid to look inside.
We are. Too often we have seen projects dying because they became
Nettime is being used as a 'collaborative text filtering' mailinglist by
many different people, in many ways. It deals with 'cultural politics of
the net' not with art, politics or technology as seperated entities. In my
view, it seeks a delicate balance between spheres in society that are
usually not in contact, like activism, art, theory and politics and 'the
Net' as a kind of common ground, the platform on which this is all taking

> For whom do the Declarations and Manifestos issued by nettime speak?  Is
> it the voice of the nettime community itself? Or is it five people? 

As far as I can recall, most of the manifestos are not written exclusively
for nettume and also circulate elsewhere. According to me, manifestos are
addressing themselves to a certain audience, but potentially they should
be read (and understood) by all human beings. No one can voice the nettime
'community' (I avoid this term because it refers too much to a harmony and
unity, but that's personal taste). Manifestos should be signed by an
(imaginary) group.

> It's also important for us to understand why, in a networked discourse
> form that is inclusive and multi-vocal, you should have such a need for
> the doctrinal, print-based, univocal forms of the past (declaration,
> manifesto, and Bible). Is it because it is necessary in order to build
> your idea of the 'movement' (the self-proclaimed 'nettime movement')?  

I stick to the idea of the movement. It is much more open and diverse than
the community or the technical definiton of being a majordomo mailinglist.
As long as it is on the move, it will not so easily become an Organization
with an office etc. In my view, nettime can express itself in many ways,
not only digital, but also in print (ZKPs) or meeting like The Beauty and
the East or the gathering in the canal during HIP, where 25-30 nettimers
met in the water. By the way, there are several Bibles in the making now
(a quick, thick and dirty one and an academic American anthology). And I
seriously think that Declarations are not from the past. If you believe in
an audience, the public, one would like to address, this is one way to do
it. I know it is modern, not post-modern. But that is another issue.

> What if we disagree with this strategy?  If we post on nettime -- if we
> feel a part of its voice (and granted I don't so much anymore) -- then
> do we become part of the 'we' that comprises, by default, its
> manifestos, at the service of agendas to which we are not privy?  

This is indeed a problem. The list needs a lot of different, dissident
voices, not a passive audience. Ni dieu, ni maitre. Ni geert, ni pit.
Ni piran, ni blast. But movements needs strategies, planning. Otherwise
nettime will only be a digital forum for the lonely hearts.

> While I'm at it, here is another, related issue.  Why do you go to such
> great lengths to encamp at art exhibitions while claiming that art is
> not important?  Do you gain power by this kind of negation ('no art
> beyond this point')?  A negation that helps to aestheticize your
> activity?

I myself take the freedom to state that I am just a media theorist and
activist, not an artist. Here at Hybrid WorkSpace we are currently
working on a lot of social and political themes, with groups that take the
risk to balance on the dangerous border of the art system and the world of 
independant initiatives. I do not have to negate art. Documenta is used as
a forum, a stage for a variety of issues. If we succeed or fail in this is
something I cannot yet fully estimate. Perhaps others should do that,
By the way, nettime also appears outside of the art context, like in
Ljubljana or at Hacking In Progres (or Next Five Minutes, Cyberconf).

bye! geert

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