Internet-based writing and art works emerge from, refer to, and thus must be understood within the complex context of the internet, which is in fact a conglomeration of contexts operating in concert (or not). For their function and for their intelligibility internet-based works are dependant upon the internet and all its vagaries, from the constraints of its physical infrastructure to the menace of its crawling bots, from the Babel babble of its code languages to the competing messages of its surface contents. How can works created for and within this highly provisional, seemingly immaterial, endlessly re-combinatory context be read, watched or understood in any other?
This is precisely the question that the Vienna-based collective CONT3XT.NET has been relentlessly asking of itself and of others over the past five years. Co-foundes Sabine Hochrieser, Michael Kargl, Birgit Rinagl, and Franz Thalmair take a translation approach to curatorial practice, exploring new creative territories and practices oscillating between the virtual and the real by reformulating the immateriality of the internet into the physicality of paper, space, performance or other public presentations. On their website they state: “Always starting from the idea of the context as the most indecisive and variable but relevant constraint of any situation, the collective analyses the spatial, temporal, discursive as well as the institutional framework that conceptual artistic practices are rooted in today.” Over the past five years they have collaborated with a wide range of media artists, theorists, curators and writers working at the nexus of contemporary visual, textual and networked practices to develop networked projects, exhibitions, publications, lectures and public presentations.
Over the course of the next few months I will be performing as a commentator for Jacket2. I will be collecting, recollecting and commenting on a wide variety of digital texts and contexts operating in the inter-zones where digital media, literature, visual art and performance practices meet. Some of these texts may be more about language than about literature. Some may be more about reading than writing. Some may seem to be more about the social than anything. Some may be visual art, or net.art, or media art, or sound art or some other art or all of the above or something in between. Some will refer to the literary without containing a character of text. And some will be live moments, never again to be realized.
There are terms for these ways of working. Writing in networked and programmable media. Transmedia storytelling. Hypermedia. Multi-media. Multi-modal. Cross-art-form. Art Writing. Performance Writing. For me, this last term incorporates all the elements I am most interested in, which is why I have placed the word performance first in my title.