Algoritmia | Art in the era of AI
MEIAC (Extremadura and Ibero-American Museum of Contemporary Art)
Badajoz, Spain, 19 February – 2 May 2021
Curator: Gustavo Romano
Publication of the catalogue: September 2021
Some NETescopio artists (Arcángel Constantini, Giselle Beiguelman, Maite Cajaraville, Belén Gache, Daniel García Andújar, Eduardo Kac, Igor Štromajer), pioneers of net art, were invited to answer the following question:
Q: “We live immersed in an irreversible digitalization process that has accelerated during the last 25 years, with the appearance of the WWW. We have seen the emergence of a whole series of complex dynamics derived from the actions of new human-technological assemblages, artificial intelligence and new algorithms that regulate all types of exchanges. In the field of art, technology should no longer be considered as a production tool, but as the environment within which works are produced.
In this context, what do you think that have been the most defining changes in these 25 years? How do you experience them as an artist and how do they affect your production? What differences do you find between creating in the late 1990s and creating now?”
A – Igor Štromajer: “In 1995, when I started to work online, the internet was a free, almost uncontrolled space, full of potentials, it was the most open and democratic platform ever created. At least it appeared that way. We were all impressed by the freedom and anarchy the internet was offering, by the possibilities of having free exchange of information, art, and opinions. Those were the golden times of direct online democracy. Everything was possible. It was shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the East was celebrating, and optimism was all around us. Then, slowly but surely, year by year, the internet became heavily controlled commercial crap, extremely limited in the content that was allowed to be published, heading more and more towards what we have now. In that context, some of my net art works became almost illegal in certain environments, like on Facebook, because they contained explicit nudity, radical political statements, provocations, lies, deliberately false news and manipulations, etc., so it was almost impossible to discuss and present them on these platforms. The freedom disappeared almost entirely, even in the Dark Web. Strong commercial and morally conservative rules were applied. The whole of Europe, the whole world became very conservative. Facebook, Instagram and other social media demand puristic, non-problematic, beautiful and good-looking art, full of colors and glitches, not my intimate, anarchistic and direct political pornography. Post-internet art and the Internet of Things are perfect examples of such conservative art forms, therefore they function well on Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram. In that sense, the internet as such, the internet as we knew it, doesn’t exist anymore.
Of course, art has this wonderful ability to constantly look for new forms of expression even in the extremely limited environment of the modern internet and virtually nothing can stop it, so I’m not pessimistic about its existence and further development. However, it is true that precisely because of the brutal commercialization of the internet, nowadays we need to pay even more attention to the pitfalls it offers us, disguised in practicality, beauty, and ease of use. We need to learn to be constantly critical, to reject the fake gifts that the internet offers us, and to create parallel, alternative, guerrilla networks and formats, communication and exchange platforms, and systems. In other words, to bring it back to life, we not only need to create a new internet, but we need to create more of them. Beauty and reason are in diversity and unrestrained coincidence, and that is what the internet lacks today.
Let’s all try harder tomorrow.”