Interview with Andy Deck

Autore: Denise Cattani
data: 2006.04.02

We talk with Andy Deck, that in March has presented inside the Node.London program a new project, commissioned by  Tate Online and Whitney Artport.
DC: the  title referring to the quilting circle caught my attention. Could you explain this choice and how did you translate it into the net language?
AD: "Screening Circle" refers to the tradition of the quilting circle, a group of people who makes pieces of
a larger fabric.  I think the title fits because people contribute their labor in a way that's similar to the way
that quilting circles have worked for centuries.  One difference of course is that you don't know the other people
who are drawing pictures with you.  I replaced "quilt" with "screen" to emphasize that people are producing
a work for the screen.  Also, I wanted to reference the word "screening" because there's a way to watch
the present and past content of the Screening Circle.  Even if you don't want to draw anything, you can
see what others are making by visiting the screening area.

DC: during the creation of  the quilt the aim was the finished product, while, in your work, what's important is the "work in progress" idea. Is that right?
AD: to some degree I leave that up to the people who are using it.  People can simply scribble something
and then leave, or they can stay and work until there is a prolonged sequence of coherent images that
will remain in the archive as a kind of "product."  In the future, I intend to use both of these types of
participation to create video projections of the ongoing activity.  The variety and endlessness of the
activity are characteristics that I am trying to represent.

DC: Screening Circle is an online collaboration project based on the users participation, a  theme  you have already explored in different previous projects. Does Screening Circle add something new to your reflection on this theme?
AD: with this piece I set out to involve people more in the production of a series of images, sort of the way editors work with movie clips. One point of reference for this work is the video editing software that is widely used, mostly by specialists, to produce everything from films to television and advertising.  The way I have done it is quite stylized and simplified.  It's not even clear when you first arrive that the arrangement of icons resembles the arrangement of movie "clips" in a video editing program.   But eventually, I think some people will grasp this aspect of the piece, and as a result, the archival "footage" from this project will reflect the alternation
between comprehension and coherence, on the one hand, and distraction and chaos on the other.

DC: just like other works of yours, the interface is very simple and minimalist. Users don't receive many instructions on how to move in it and are required to explore the drawing area. Why ?
 AD: in some ways the interface conventions that have evolved over the past decade are a nuisance to me as an artist.  There was a study recently that found people evaluate web sites -- positive or negative -- in 1/20th of a second.  I want people to approach my work in a reflective state of mind,  and I feel that one way to force people out of their usual habits is to present them with something  that is not immediately obvious to interpret.   Also, I don't want to spell out exactly what people should or shouldn't do.  I feel I've only provided half the content, so I want to leave some latitude for people to figure out what to do with Screening Circle.   I'm sure I'll lose some people, but I feel like it's not my goal to make everything obvious to people who aren't seriously trying to understand my work.
Later on I'll be able to project retrospective videos that show what people have been doing in an accelerated stream.  Those visuals should be more accessible, in some ways.

DC: In your artworks public participation, shared authorship and open source playan important role  in the construction of an artistic public space, independentand not controlled by media corporations.What are the perspectives (limitations and possibilities) of  your idea of  a "public art for the Internet"?
AD: i've used the term "public" in describing my work to pose the question of what constitutes
"public space" or a "public" artwork in the Internet sphere.  In the U.S. there are cities such as San Francisco that are fielding proposals from companies like Google to provide "free" wireless access.  But that kind of "free" comes at the cost of privacy, because Google intends to barrage people with targeted advertising.   In English we use "free" to describe both "gratuit" (no money) and "libre" (vive la liberte), and I want both types of freedom to be part of the social imagination.
I see some aspects of Internet culture that lead in interesting directions.  Things like open source software and shared wireless connections have the possibility to reshape the way we use networks.  I'm trying to connect these ideas to the arts and to find some common ground between the spheres of culture, telecommunication, and politics.

DC: Http Gallery in London is presenting your exhibition. The old question about returns again: do you think your artworks will maintain the same expressive strength if removed from their original context and exposed into a gallery?
AD: the things on display at HTTP have never really been seen online the way they can be seen in the gallery.  Even I was surprised to see some of the images tha people had produced.  The amount of different things that are being archived in my web site has grown quite large -- I mean, things that other people have made using my more tool-like artworks.  So I don't even have time to see it all.  The show gave me an opportunity to  put it on the walls (including some projections), and see what people have been doing.
It's more fun to see it all that way rather than doing a lot of clicking and waiting for it to download.  

DC: how do you think net art has changed during the last years and what can you say about the present situation?
 AD: there's been some talk about the death of Net.Art, and I think I understand what that's all about.  In the beginning there was HTML and the WWW was new.  Artists started making unusual websites and, like any kind of fad in the arts, Net.Art had its day in the sun.  But that attention was mostly about the _medium_, not about the work.  The medium was new and so, consequently, when the medium stopped feeling so new, people started thinking that Net.Art was "dead."  What that gloomy arc fails to comprehend, however, is that the dematerialized, global, telematic characteristics of Net.Art continue to be serviceable to artists.  I've developed a creative process around these characteristics, and the issues and phenomena that emerge from that commitment are as vital today as they were five years ago.


fiere, biennali

KunStart 2006

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