JIP - JavaMuseum Interview Project

Interview: Henry Gwiazda

Henry Gwiazda
is a US based media artist.

He is participating in JavaMuseum – Netart Features I-V

view his detailed bio

—> Interview: 10 Questions

Since a reasonable time, digital media entered the field of art and extended the traditional definition of art through some new , but very essential components.
Do you think it is like that and if yes, tell me more about these components and how they changed the perception of art?

For me, digital media’s main contribution is in the nature of the digital meduim itself. Digital media looks and sounds different than anything else. It looks cold and precise, or it can in it’s original form. When one attempts a certain realism it does not look real but superreal. However, I don’t think this has changed the field of art yet. Even new media artists use primarily video which is then digitally processed. I don’t think this has altered the perception of art. Perhaps……

The other contribution that is used by many is interactivity. Again, I’m unconvinced this has gain wide acceptance as serious art making outside of the artists that use it. Most “normal” people see interactivity as a game to be played, like a video game, then left. Also, interactivity’s principles are not new. Aleatoric music from the ’50’s and ’60’s used the same concept of viewer/listener particitpation and failed.

What interests me most about digital media is the ability to use audio and visual in a coordinated approach that is truly unprecedented in human history. This “coming together” of elements that started out fused is, I feel, the true promise of this medium.

A relevant section of digital art represents Internet based art. The Internet was hardly existing, but artists conquered already this new field for their artistic activities.
Can the work of these early artists be compared with those who work with advanced technologies nowadays? What changed until these days ? What might be the perspectives for future developments?

Each artist’s site has become a gallery and galleries have become portals to the Web. I think the idea of Internet art, whatever that is, will disappear and become simply how all art is thought of. Do we really use the term electronic music anymore?

The education in the field of New Media art, including Internet based art, started late compared with the general speed of technological development and acceptance.
So, generations of artists who used the Internet as their artistic working field were not educated in this new discipline(s) and technologies, but had rather an interdisciplinary approach.
What Do you think, would be the best way to teach young people how to deal with the Internet as an environment of art?

The Internet is essentially a multimedia environment. Therefore, art students should be more conscious of sound/music and how to compose/perform it and music students should do the same with art and both should also learn how to write prose and poetry in combination with the audio/visual. Both kinds of students should study how these two primary human sensory organs work together studying past work in film, video, opera, etc.

What kind of meaning have the new technologies and the Internet to you in concern of art, are they just tools for expressing artistic intentions, or have they rather an ideological character, as it can be found with many “netartists”, or what else do they mean to you?
Many “Internet based artists” work on “engaged” themes and subjects, for instance, in social, political, cultural etc concern.
Which contents are you particularly interested in, personally and from an artcritical point of view.

Because my work is completely concerned with the human aesthetic experience, I am somewhat at odds with the ideological goals of most new media.

Because the human aesthetic response has played a core role in the development of civilization, I dislike seeing art’s role seconded to social or political issues. This coupling of art to “causes” is of course very old. But, in my opinion, history has not shown it to be very successful. Before he died, Jean-Paul Sartre was quoted as saying that literature could not change society.

For me, artistic and scientific concerns are the most important efforts individuals can make.

The term “netart” is widely used for anything posted on the net, there are dozens of definitions which mostly are even contradictory.
How do you define “netart” or if you like the description “Internet based art” better?
Do you think “netart” is art, at all, if yes, what are the criteria?
Are there any aesthetic criteria for an Internet based artwork?

I suppose netart should be something that can be only experienced on the net which means moving the mouse to affect some artistic purpose which in turn presupposes some type of interactivity. However, I think that the portability of small or large audio/visual experiences that do not require interactivity will “travel better” in the future with mobile phones, etc.

“Art on the net” has the advantage and the disadvantage to be located on the virtual space in Internet which defines also its right to exist.
Do you think, that “art based on the Internet”, can be called still like that, even if it is just used offline?

It needs a new name-New Media? which is a name I don’t like either.

Dealing with this new, and interactive type of art demands an active viewer or user, and needs the audience much more and in different ways than any other art discipline before. How do you think would be good ways to stimulate the user to dive into this new world of art?

Interactivity actually disengages the audience’s mind while “interacting”. In music, the perspective of the performer of a piece of music is significantly different from that of the listener. Any physical activity that requires a decision to be made puts that physical activity to the front of a person’s brain function. Reflection and other higher brain functions are relegated to a secondary function. Unfortunately, this is where most perception of art takes place.

Listen to any improvised solo. It is usually too long for the audience. But it is usually just right for the performer because they are physically engaged with creating the sound. After a performance, the musician is generally surprised by the recording of their performance. Rarely does it coincide with the feeling the musician had while performing.

What do you think represents an appropriate environment to present net based art to an audience, is it the context of the lonesome user sitting in front of his personal computer, is it any public context, or is it rather the context of art in general or media art in particular, or anything else.?

If it’s a physical space it should be a large screen where other people can witness the interaction although this is not always clear to the audience.

If you would be in the position to create an environment for presenting this type of art in physical space, how would you do it?

A building with several rooms, like a museum, with large screens and different works in each room on a rotating basis.

As Internet based art, as well as other art forms using new technologies are (globally seen) still not widely accepted, yet, as serious art forms, what do you think could be an appropriate solution to change this situation?

I visited the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary art where the show consisted of a great deal of media art. As a viewer, it felt like I was being lectured at by the large quantity of art about politics, society, etc. It felt more like a Museum of Propaganda.

The Internet is sometimes called a kind of “democratic” environment,
The conventional art practice is anything else than that, but selective by using filters of different kind.
The audience is mostly only able to make up its mind on second hand. Art on the net might potentially be different. Do you think the current practice of dealing with Internet based art is such different or rather the described conventional way through (also curatorial) filtering?
Do you think, that speaking in the terms of Joseph Beuys, anybody who publishes anything on the net would be also an artist?

I sense a change in how curators are working with art on the Internet. For example, last year all of the Rhizome Commissions were selected by the membership. This year, only two out of seven. Gradually, certain curatorial practices will emerge that most people will accept as beneficial “vetting” type of procedure. It’s currently in process.

Do you think, the curators dealing with net based art should have any technological knowledge in order to understand such an art work from its roots? And what about the users of Internet based art?

For me, the most important word in any description is the last. Net based art is essentially art and should be evaluated as such. The technology should be hidden. No one talks about the brushes Vermeer used as a tool of evaluating his work.