JIP - JavaMuseum Interview Project

Interview: Tomasz Konart

Agricola de Cologne (AdC) interviews Tomasz Konart (TK)

Tomasz Konart
lives and works in Toronto, Canada.

  • artist biography
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    Interview: 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?

    My interest in experimental approach to media played a role in getting involved in the Internet based activities. I studied film and photography, and, more recently, new media. The “experience of media” has always been my main focus. I mean, I would rather be interested in the meaning of holding a camera in my hand while talking to someone than in the meaning of the recorded images. Similarly, I would rather want to experience the film being projected in certain situation than decode its symbols. To me the whole process of making and watching a movie constitutes its meaning. It seems in the case of the Internet these interrelations are even stronger, and more obvious.

    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?
    Are there any aesthetic criteria for an Internet based artwork?

    Some thirty-forty years ago, if an artist described herself as a video-art artist it would be a significant statement. Saying that would equal subscribing to the new idea of humanism, as opposed to a dogma like that of L. Mumford’s. Also the label “video artist” used to indicate a strong opposition to commercial media. Same thing with performance art, body art, earth art, etc. Those terms were intended to emphasize a major shift from aesthetically defined art of “isms” to the art aimed at concrete “none-artistic” matters. “Netart” would probably make some sense back in the seventies.

    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?

    I think that the Internet is becoming a new reality on its own. It is to big to be used as a synonym of anything.

    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).

    The Internet is all about communication. Traditionally, we consider communication as an exchange of information between at least two beings. Those beings are fully recognizable and it is completely clear what messages they receive and what they send out. For example a phone conference can be recorded and later analysed word by word. If there are too many people joining in, the phone conference breaks down. In an internet communication system you can have hundreds or thousands of concurrent participants. It does not break down, and sometimes it is really hard to say who is who and who says what, and to whom, and why. Consequently, each participant has a much more limited knowledge of the course of the conversation she is taking part in. This would be the area of my greatest interest.

    “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?

    “On-line” is one of the main characteristics of this technology, and it is up to the artist how to deal with it. Why to prohibit anything? Was this supposed to be the silly question?

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

    I think this is not a question of presenting but producing art that invites participation. There is a net-based art without monitor, keyboard and mouse. On the other hand if you create a piece for a personal computer why would you want to put that computer in an art gallery.

    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?

    Probably we are still waiting for a great net-based piece that would open the front doors of all art museums. It may be a long wait.

    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?

    I don’t remember the phrase exactly but it was also Josef Beuys who put up a sign saying something to the end that we are only at the stage of becoming humans. Why not declare that anybody who publishes anything on the net is a human. Let’s see what happens.

    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, they should be able to fix artist’s computer. However I would really like to meet a curator who doesn’t know anything about the Internet.

    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 ?

    I would like to go there and feel the Net without even seeing a computer.

    Thanks for taking your time!