JIP - JavaMuseum Interview Project

Interview: Nadja Kutz

Agricola de Cologne (AdC) interviews Nadja Kutz (NK)
Nadja Kutz had science education 1987/88 –>special Student (grant), MIT, Media Lab, Math/Physics Dep., she got 1990 diploma in Physics, Technical University of Berlin and 1996 Ph.D. in Mathematics, Technical University of Berlin. From 1990 to 1997, she was administrator of the special research unit Sfb288 at TU Berlin. Her main work has been teaching and research. Together with Tim Nikolai Hoffmann, Nadja Kutz forms the daytar group presently and run the daytar site. They live and work in Berlin/Germany. Their activities and site include experiments in the intersection of art, math and physics. They are participants in JavaMuseum.

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10 questions–>

You belong to an art scene using new technologies, you are an active representative of a genre dealing with Internet based art, called “netart”.
When those artists started who are active since a longer time, the education in New Media was not yet such advanced like nowadays, often they came form different disciplines and had an interdisciplinary approach, those young artists who start now have partially this more advanced education, but rather not much experience in other disciplines.

Tell me something about your educational background and what is influencing your work?
We are both mathematicians/physicists (Ph.D.) with a strong autodidactical background in art and music.

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 your work belongs to this specific genre,
do you think “netart” is art, at all, if yes, what are the criteria?
We dont see netart as a thing of the internet. First we “grew up” with other nets, as e.g. bitnet, usenet etc. before there was www, and secondly we believe that the current internet is a very intermediate state. the term netart could be used for any art which involves platform independent networks.
Are there any aesthetic criteria for an Internet based artwork?
Not different from usual art. there are certain things which should be
sacred to our opinion, like an art work should respect human rights a.s.o. but besides this there is no limitation.

What kind of meaning have the new technologies and the Internet to you,
are they just tools for expressing your 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?
New technologies have two aspects. first they are indeed tools for expressing our artistic intentions and one could really say that we had waited for the technology. We have many projects waiting since many years to be set into existence, because they need the new technology. Since we are trained mathematicians/physicists we always see a timeline of 20 ys. ahead of us.
There is no ideology to the internet in our view. Its just a tool. It belongs to evolution.

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, what are the subjects you are working on and what is your artistic message(s), if you have any, and what are your personal artistic visions for future artworking (if you have any).
We are interested in discovering the basic laws of existence, also if this sounds ambitious, we mean this in a rather modest way. However political, social and cultural things are not so interesting to us. The investigated dynamics may be quite interesting and emotional, but on a local level the involved laws are mostly very simple: greed, power and fear etc. These are human “flaws”. They do not explain our world and such they are not our major concern. But yes we are emotional things, we can get carried away and this is important to the artwork.

AdC:“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?
Art on the net is not really only virtual. Its usually stored physically on one or many computers. If these are destroyed physically your art work is gone. If the artwork used the internet for its creation then one can definitely call it “art based on the Internet” also if its offline….(if it stills works without using the internet
(like for feed-ins etc.))
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 stimulate the user to dive into this new world of art?
We try to obey to the basic laws of usability and user friendliness. This had been quite extensively investigated in graphic design …and the curiosity of the user will hopefully do the rest.
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.?
You never know who is in front of the screen. If you have a screen in a museum then there may be a big crowd around it, but often there is just one lonely human sitting in front of it.
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?
This depends on the artwork. If you do an artwork you usually have the specific possible users in mind and the artwork itself and you adapt the environment accordingly.

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?

The Internet is called a kind of “democratic” environment, but 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?
For us art is anything which humans produce without having any other goal in mind then the artwork itself. so per definition anyone who does this extensively is an artist. if you could sell the outcome is another question and surely the “filter mechanisms” in the “(internet) art world” are very human and sometimes somewhat very random. Its not the first time that someone has been overlooked. Its also a question of accessability.

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?
yes and they should constantly try to learn. “Wer stetig sich bemueht den koennen wir erloesen”. :-)

It is planned, to re-launch
JavaMuseum – Forum for Internet Technology in Contemporary Art
www.javamuseum.org in 2007 in a new context, very likely even in physical space. What would be your personal wishes and expectations connected to this re-launch ?
If you could find a location where netart could be sustainable documented
then this would be great. The more independent curators there are – the better.

Thanks for taking your time.