Wed. Aug. 25, 1999
El Diario Montañés

More than proposing artistic ideas, the Internet allows us to intervene in the creative process

The cyberartist Andrew Deck remains ready to see if the Internet proves revolutionary

(Original Spanish version (898k) by RUBÉN GUTIÉRREZ Santander

"Internet art can serve as a context to encourage creative behavior. My work with the Internet is meant to allow people to interact in the creative process, more than simply receiving art passively." This is one of the reflections made yesterday by the American cyberartist, Andrew Deck, at the UIMP, where he is teaching a workshop on cyberculture under the title "Problems and development of artistic creation on the Net". This artist, who is also a professor of Internet Technologies at New York University, considers that it is too soon to determine if the internet is really revolutionary. "Most likely," he said, "it will be a very long revolution, even if its emergence was a fissure in the power structure of communications."

Since its beginning, much has been written about the possibilities of the Internet in all fields. Including the arts. The UIMP has facilitated, with the new course taught by Deck, the continuation of the debate that goes further into the social and economic implications of the Internet. The introduction of this new technology supposes the use of some new artistic languages, and new forms of expression, but many wonder how much a change in creative tools can change art if there is a lack of genius and creative talent. Or simply artistic education. Deck believes that it is not so much the artist that changes, as it is the spectator, who may cease to be only a spectator of the art work and begin intervening directly in the artistic process.

Also changing, in his opinion, is the situation of the artist in relationship to museums and cultural institutions. "What artists are making today are works that don't need the intermediation of galleries and curators. This permits a more direct relationship with the public. Museums continue to be more interested in dead artists."

With respect to artistic liberties, and his creative independence, Deck doesn't believe that it has suffered greatly in the new media; although he admits that the technical complexity of the creative tools allows that "the art I make in the internet is mediated by programs that are beyond my control." By contrast artists can distribute their works globally, which was not possible for painters of old.

Deck expressed concern over the control that large corporations like Microsoft exert, since operating systems and languages like Linux and Java constitute a good technical infrastructure for artistic work. He defended these other systems, "threatened by Microsoft," since "their loss would compromise my ability to choose which tools I want to use in my work."

The use of the internet as an artistic frame can generate, according to some, a "dictatorship" of the image. With regard to this, Deck is skeptical, but he speaks of "a dictatorship of codes that underlie programs, and of binary logic."

If the Internet is to revitalize the artistic realm in a more or less revolutionary way, one troubling question remains that of the acceptance of these new creative forms by the public, taking into count that certain aesthetic currents even of a century ago remain poorly understood. Deck is aware of this, affirming that he feels the reticence towards his art, "but it doesn't concern me because, nevertheless, I have an audience."

One of the most debated issues since the appearance of the Internet has been its regulation, especially given its capacity to carry all sorts of contents, not only inoffensive things.

The professor, in this regard, suggests that "it is unreasonable to speak of liberty of expression in the Internet without addressing the fact that the technical protocols governing the Internet are, in large measure, controlled by large corporations." More explicitly, Deck says it is a "joke" to speak of liberty of expression "without also talking about the democratic control of the protocols (rules that regulate the functioning of programs on the internet)."

The globalization, the society of the net that Manuel Castells has addressed, undoubtedly, has many possiblities. But there are also many uncertainties. One of these is that of marginalization of people and societies who are positioned outside of the centers of this net-society. Deck observes that the Internet "is less elitist than TV, from the perspective of artists, because their information is not controlled by layers of bureaucracy."

Translated by A. Deck