Happy medium: the [R][R][F] 2004 --->XP new media
Using the Internet as an exhibition space provides an exciting alternative to galleries and other more traditional spaces, and comes with a number of advantages. These include an indefinite timespan for projects, the possibility of growth and development, a potentially wider audience (if well publicised), and of course, the ability to give net.art and interactive works a suitable home.
However, these advantages do not make the Internet a perfect exhibition space, and it has by no means overtaken galleries and large events as the preferred choice for artists � even new media artists.
There are many reasons for the underutilisation of the Internet as exhibition space, but the primary one is that the net is best suited to digital work, less so to painting and sculpture for instance. The resistance of artists working in non-digital media to online projects is thus understandable, but the effect is that many net projects cultivate a strong new media bias. Frequently, work is very focused on topics fashionable within the new media field, which is very medium-specific and techno-happy.
Instead of opening up new media work to a wider public, using the Internet as exhibition space can thus actually make it more isolated or rarefied. This is not inevitable, but something that threatens the vitality of online projects as modality.
One project, the [R][R][F] 2004 --->XP, tries to get beyond all that. Launched in March this year, the [R][R][F] 2004 --->XP is branded 'an online New Media art project', and has been created and developed by Agricola de Cologne, an established German new media curator (for a full bio see (http://www.agricola-de-cologne.de/bio/bio_agricola1.htm ). Even though his project originates from a new media conception, it recognises that in order for the project to be viable, it needs to take both high-tech and low-tech routes, as well as actively engage with physical events and spaces such as biennales, festivals and lecture series.
The [R][R][F] 2004 --->XP does not, like many other online projects, take its central theme from digital technology as such. Instead, the initials [R][R][F] stand for 'remembering', 'repressing' and 'forgetting', and the project takes as organisational metaphor the notion of a body, which is at the same time physical and organic, as well as thoughtful and spiritual.
There are currently eight channels (as symbolic 'organs') operative in the project. Some of these channels are media-specific, and focus on video, sound or interactive works. Other channels are more topically oriented, and feature work and discussions dealing with violence, globalisation, the Iraq war and identity respectively. It further includes a substantial programme of streaming events, including lectures and performances.
The life of the project, however, is in its existence as body, its collective presence on the web. In the corporeal sense, the body is the website, which in its entirety constitutes (according to de Cologne) an interactive artwork comprising many subsets. It is a complex and rich website, with much good material to browse through. Though not simple in design, it is intuitive enough and rewards the user with quality video and audio artworks. Also, as a body, the project has participated in several events, and is currently preparing for the Biennale of Electronic Arts (BEAP) in Perth.
But, as de Cologne is quick to point out, being digitally born, this body is an evolving one: 'In this way, [R][R][F] 2004-->XP does not represent a complete art work, but Internet-specific as it is, the project is ongoing. Corresponding with the collage principle the brain uses for its associative system, the project represents rather a framework for options to start processes. By following them, the actual artwork can take shape in most individual ways, in a kind of dynamic virtual sculpture, a kind of hyper-dimensional collage or patchwork' http://www.newmediafest.org/rrf2004/concept.htm.
Individually featured artists come from across the globe, including the USA, UK, Malaysia, Italy, India, Cuba, Afghanistan, Argentina and France, but sadly no South Africans are represented. Luckily, the [R][R][F] 2004 --->XP is still accepting entries for video work, so those who want to join their dynamic ranks should visit http://www.newmediafest.org/rrf2004/calls.htm .
Alternatively keep your eyes on ArtThrob's 'Exchange' feature, where we often run calls for participation in de Cologne's various projects.