This paper begins by examining the cultural and political assumptions underlying specific cases in the history of electronic network art practice. These assumptions are a starting point in a more general discussion of the condition of art making in the context of a global (cultural) economy which is increasingly subject to the forces of transnational control. Cultural identity and technological empowerment: two issues traditionally examined separately are here discussed together as aspects of the same condition. The implications of the demise of the power of the state in the face of growing transnational control is discussed. The cultural product of this demise, the ‘dissolution’ of the centre, and the implicit impossibility of peripherality or marginality is considered. As the state becomes hollow and a new order of transnational economy arises, the channels by which the transnationals purvey goods, and the goods themselves, are technological: Electronic hardware, media and information networks. Automated technologies transmit the cultural practices of their producers. Transnational economy works its own hypercolonialism as the ‘margins’ are appropriated and reconstituted: this argument is applied both to third world nations and to the art world. Appropriation and reconstitution are achieved through instantaneous markert surveillance and analysis and the flexible pruction practices allowed by modern, rapidly reprogrammable machine tools. This induces a condition of “hyper-conformity of difference” (Fry). The potential for art as a critical activity and the concept of marginality as site of resistance are examined in the context of the rapid rate of change of technological tools and the possibility of intervention. The work of contemporary artists attempting such intervention is discussed. The computer-artist synergy is still in its infancy. The distinctions between dimensions may be an indication of this infancy. As it grows and matures these distinctions may fade into arbitrariness, and computer art- may earn the recognition it deserves as a rich new medium.
- Maria Fernandez, Gainsville. USA