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Author: Cybersalon


Manage Your Own Medium

1.0 Genesis.

In March 1960 J.C.R Licklider envisioned a network of computers connected together where human and machine would work together in intimate association. He prophesised that this era would be intellectually the most creative and exiting in the history of mankind. We are living in this time. Our group is a collective of people emerging from the human/computer interface who are engaged in digital practices and theories. As artists, practitioners and academics we have joined together to create the Cybersalon: live gatherings in the image of the new digital medium of the Net.

2.0 The medium is no longer the message, we formulate the medium to convey our own message.

Creating in pixels underpins the use of the computer both as a tool and as a communicating device. These two characteristics have completed their integration in the Net. Within new media, the creative process is made and distributed in bits and pixels. The exchanging, sharing and manipulating information is an integral part of our work. Our networked computers are the devices of creativity and of communication. Our message is intended for a pixel-generated screen mediating the relationship of humans and computers.

3.0 Enjoy the schism.

Our visual culture has been formulated by an analogue world whose traditions have been uneasily carried on into the digital format. We are still confined by the look, design, fashions and aesthetics of the old media. Our practices and theories must now be changed for the time of the Net. The schism between old and new media is caused by the passivity of the first and the interactivity of the second. The medium that carries our message conveys an active and intimate association with its users. New media exist only in digital format: identical copies can be shared between makers and receivers. We must now deliver in the same format that we create in.

4.0 The original is obsolete.

The digital format assumes countless identical copies of the same work. The do-and-undo command encourages non-linear approaches within the creative process. A digital work can be shared between its makers who can add and delete parts. Visuals, sounds and machine code can be placed and accessed across the Net. Whether we’re multi-media constructors, web developers, programmers, theoreticians, digital artists, we all have to ask ourselves these key questions: Whose idea was it anyway? Who inspired whom? Is the remix better than the original version? How can we contribute our creativity to the collective digital work?

5.0 We must meet up soon.

New media brings together people from a wide range of different practices. For instance, when building a website, the computer programmer and the graphic designer will each contribute their own particular skills to the common product. Within the creative process, each person possesses their own heterogeneous experience of the human/computer interface. Out of these divided and layered practices, a collective aesthetic is emerging in the form of code and pixels.

6.0 Cybersalon is a real-time environment.

Cybersalon is a real and virtual space where people involved in digital creativity can congregate and meet with each other. If we want to discover innovative practices and theories, it is essential for us to share and communicate our on-line experiences. Some short-sighted interests are trying to inhibit the participatory nature of the Net. In contrast, we want to celebrate and promote the emancipatory and creative possibilities of the new information technologies. We will organise discussions around the social and cultural issues brought out by the Net. We will exhibit cutting-edge digital work. We present the latest practices and theories emerging from the educational, commercial, community and artistic forms of new media.

7.0 Beyond hi-tech neo-liberalism.

We are escaping from the most liberal times in the history of communications. After decades of globalisation, privatisation and deregulation, information became something which could only be bought and sold. Education, entertainment and political debates were read-only files. Now all these old certainties are being swept away. The Net is overcoming the enforced passivity and cultural boundaries imposed by the old media. Whether as individuals or as groups, we now have the ability to create our own media with the new information technologies. We can enjoy the benefits of sharing knowledge, giving information, communicating our ideas and making friends within a place where time and space are undetermined. In this new situation, we are forced to reconsider our practices and theories of cultural creativity. We must revisit the revolutionary legacy of the past. We must invent new ways of acting and thinking.

8.0 Montage the medium.

Living inside the human/computer interface is an integral part of everyday life. As digital practitioners, we use our computer as a production tool and as a communications device. As mobile phone users, we each carry with our own personal transmitter. Although we don’t own the landlines or airwaves, we are still able to give away our content to whoever wants to download it. We can collect and filter information from the Net to customise our own information. Neither political censors nor copyright enforcers have the power to control our freedom of expression. Across the globe, individuals and groups can now enjoy the most libertarian interpretation of media freedom. We are no longer limited to owning only receivers of information. Each of us can now possess their own transmitter. Everyone can be an artist, a designer, a broadcaster and a theorist. Our pixel-aided world is the integration of all known culture – and the emergence of entirely new practices and theories.

Sophia Drakopoulou
Richard Barbrook
3rd October 2000

Within this MySpace version of the electronic agora, cybernetic communism was mainstream and unexceptional. What had once been a revolutionary dream was now an enjoyable part of everyday life.