Thesis Online: Rethinking The Status Of The Art Object Through Distribution

Rethinking Vol. 1 PDH2-FrontCover

I have recently published my thesis online at the academia website. It is in two volumes. Volume 1: Text and Volume 2: Visual.

My website gives an overview of the research process and documentation over the years.

distribution of art is more important than production


How would you describe the ‘artworld’ today? ArtREview does a very good job describing it as a system of power relations in the introduction to the ‘power 100’ for 2014. Sadly ArtREview then focusses on people, and produces a list instead of a network. A list with who is up or down is so uninteresting and tabloidy I can’t believe they are still at it. I presume they think a network is something their readers can’t comprehend. The list itself tells you absolutly nothing. How these people and institutions are related tells you a lot more. Why not produce a graph with people and institutions and their relations?

When we talk about the ‘artworld’, are we talking about a system of distribution rather than anything to do with the production of art? (…)  And isn’t the control of distribution the contemporary Western power paradigm anyway?

Rhizome’s Artbase: from user generated archive to curated archive


Great article by Dragan Espenschied who leads Rhizome’s digital conservation program. Well not really an article but as he says “a mixture of manuscript and transcript of my keynote/closing lecture at Digital Preservation 2014, July 23rd in Washington, DC, held by the Library of Congress.”

He poses the question how come the Artbase changed from its starting position in 1999 as a user generated archive to what it is today, a curated archive. This means Rhizome as an art institution frames the artworks in the artbase with introductions and categories, and I would like to add that it validates and ranks certain works above others by archiving and conserving some works.

Halfway through the transcript he says this:

A big part of my job at Rhizome is to figure out what interesting parts of this approach to conservation could be put into action as an institutional process, and trying to tap into resources that are more akin to oral history.

My perspective on digital art is really that this instability and variability is not a problem, it is just a thing that we have to deal with. We do not need to pin down artifacts into one single form, instead we need to conserve exactly these variable qualities.

On the other hand, things need to be in some kind of form, they need to exist on some banal level, in some “place,” and need to be referenceable. And then there is the sheer amount, the fact that every collection of digital culture is by definition too large for the institution that tries to handle it, because—it is digital culture. It would be injust to concentrate conservation efforts on a small selection of artifacts (like a museum), as this would fail to represent the fluidity of roles I mentioned earlier. And it is also not right to fall back to normalization and mass processing only (like a library), as this would fail to represent the wide, heterogeneous materials and processes. A position in between is needed.

I believe it is productive to move a bit towards trying to conserve the banal: standardized systems and environments that enable unique artifacts to perform and users to act. There is a way to do that with this catchily named Emulation as a Service project “bwFLA,” from the University of Freiburg in Germany. Rhizome is a research partner with them.

Espenschied then shows how this works: by recording the changes needed to set up a computer and its software to run the digital artwork that is to be conserved. He concludes:

Via the recording approach, an object boundary is defined just by looking at the activities. If I would want to conserve this artwork, I would just go through all of the menus, look at everything manually, and what ends up in the recording represents the artwork.

And so here, right at the end the main problem of digital entities pops up again. Dragan confuses what is conserving the artwork with what ‘represents the artwork’. The artwork is emulated, not conserved. The problem lies in the fact that digital entities are ambiguous and performative. The artist has to authorise what the artwork consists of, and how/what might remain.The digital files or programs? The digital files on a particular computer? The digital files on a particular computer, connected to the internet on a particular day?  The artist has to come to terms with the fact that there is a pay-off for working digital/ internet based. The digital nature of the work means it is very temporary, and conservation in this context means a remaking, adaptation, reusing, remixing etc. And then I have not even started mentioning hybrid art work that is located both online and onsite. How to deal with that in the future?

PUTINTIN, a new font

PUTINTIN font by Walter van Rijn

PUTINTIN_ПУТИНТИН font translates latin characters into cyrillic characters, showing both at the same time. If you type on a latin keyboard the latin letters appear on top and on a line underneath appears the cyrillic, creating two lines of text at the same time. Please double the font size to get a readable text. If you type on a cyrillic keyboard the cyrillic appears on top with the latin underneath.

PUTINTIN_ПУТИНТИН was created in response to the Russian annexation of the Crimea, which clearly breached UN resolutions and memoranda affirming Ukraine’s territorial integrity, which Russia signed as well. To be precise, Resolution 2625 of 24 October 1970 and the Budapest Memorandum of 5 December 1994 (the Memorandum on Security Assurances in Connection with Ukraine’s Accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons).
OK now it is confirmed that the UN is dead, we need to re-establish East West communication, for which I propose this font. The font has an open font license: “The OFL allows the licensed fonts to be used, studied, modified and redistributed freely as long as they are not sold by themselves.” (OFL)

Pdf file with text example PUTINTIN_by_vvvr

Download font from the Open Font Library

The Telekommunist Manifesto | Telekommunisten

Telekommunist manifesto by Dmytri Kleiner


Now here is a fantastic project that reflects on the web and its potential for an “ongoing proliferation of free culture and free networks.” Self organisation is the key, so artists download and go for it. Download the Manifesto or get a printed copy from  The Institute of Network Cultures.

Source: The Telekommunist Manifesto | Telekommunisten.

In the age of international telecommunications, global migration and the emergence of the information economy, how can class conflict and property be understood? Drawing from political economy and concepts related to intellectual property, The Telekommunist Manifesto is a key contribution to commons-based, collaborative and shared forms of cultural production and economic distribution.

Venture communism: Proposing “venture communism” as a new model for workers’ self-organization, Kleiner spins Marx and Engels’ seminal Manifesto of the Communist Party into the age of the internet. As a peer-to-peer model, venture communism allocates capital that is critically needed to accomplish what capitalism cannot: the ongoing proliferation of free culture and free networks.

Copyfarleft: In developing the concept of venture communism, Kleiner provides a critique of copyright regimes, and current liberal views of free software and free culture which seek to trap culture within capitalism. Kleiner proposes copyfarleft, and provides a usable model of a Peer Production License.

Encouraging hackers and artists to embrace the revolutionary potential of the internet for a truly free society, The Telekommunist Manifesto is a political-conceptual call to arms in the fight against capitalism.

About the Author: Dmytri Kleiner is a software developer working on projects that investigate the political economy of the internet, and the ideal of workers’ self-organization of production as a form of class struggle. Born in the USSR, Dmytri grew up in Toronto and now lives in Berlin. He is a founder of the Telekommunisten Collective, which provides internet and telephone services, as well as undertakes artistic projects that explore the way communications technologies have social relations embedded within them, such as deadSwap (2009) and Thimbl (2010).