Book launch, Vienna/Austria:
Content | Form | Im-material—Five Years of CONT3XT.NET

CONT3XT.NET (ed.), content | form | immaterial, Verlag für moderne Kunst Nürnberg, 2011

Why is it still easier to get an entire museum collection on the Internet than to get a single work of Internet-based Art in a museum space? As with the nature of this question, both aspects have to be taken into account: the field of Internet-based Art with its characteristics and proponents, as well as the mechanisms that allow institutions to filter what the public at large understands to be art. The book “Content | Form | Im-material” analyses how artistic creation on—and based upon—the Internet and the processes of its re-formulation in the real space can be developed in order to find appropriate presentational modes, suitable for both sides—the Internet and the art world—in favour of interdisciplinary discourse. It also represents a synopsis of the activities of the art collective CONT3XT.NET over the past five years, since it was founded in Vienna in early 2006 by Sabine Hochrieser, Michael Kargl, Birgit Rinagl and Franz Thalmair. Programmatically, this group of artists, curators and authors—their different roles and functions sometimes regarded strictly, sometimes as a fluid continuum—work at the basis of contemporary visual, textual and networked practices. 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. Here the main point of interest is the exploration of creative territories shifting between the ‘virtual’ and the ‘real’ as well as between the dimensions of the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside’ of the field of art. This book can be read as a loose documentation of projects as well as a screenshot of tendencies that have emerged and disappeared within the past few years. Anyhow, it is a protocol of workflows concerned with matters of content, form and im-material.

Content | Form | Im-material - CONT3XT.NET

[…] What we can observe in CONT3XT.NET’s work is a kind of feedback loop between Net Art and curatorial practice. The apparent “problem” is how to present so-called immaterial work in real, physical space. Arguably, however, the real problem is the role of curation in the full-blown age of the “computerization of society.” […]

(from Steve Dietz’s introductory essay)

Content | Form | Im-material - CONT3XT.NET

[…] At the heart of CONT3XT.NET’s exhibition practice are two overlapping questions: what is the possible relationship of “immaterial” (Internet) art to material space, especially the white cube of the art world, and what is the possible role of the curator in manifesting this relationship? […]

(from Steve Dietz’s introductory essay)

Content | Form | Im-material - CONT3XT.NET

[…] In particular, keeping in mind the idea of the computer as a “language machine,” if you overlay the curator with the black boxes of algorithms and memory, imagine Net Art as an input with any possible output, exchange the nodes of the commons for whatever context you care about—the art world, global politics, chess—then you have a bi-directional map or feedback loop of both net-work and curatorial practice as trans-formation. […]

(from Steve Dietz’s introductory essay)

Content | Form | Im-material - CONT3XT.NET

[…] One of the central tropes of CONT3XT.NET’s exhibition-as-theory approach to curatorial practice is the idea of translation. Not translation-as-decoding, which Warren Waver famously and influentially wrote about in 1949: “When I look at an article in Russian, I say, This is really written in English, but it has been coded in some strange symbols. I will now proceed to decode.” […]

(from Steve Dietz’s introductory essay)

Content | Form | Im-material - CONT3XT.NET

[…] According to CONT3XT.NET, “in most of our exhibitions we try to transfer the immaterial aspects of the Internet into ‘real’ material, into installations, into printed paper, into wood, into objects.” Clearly, in this process—or mode—of curatorial practice, there is not a fixed, one-to-one correspondence between the original (or earlier recension) and the exhibition format—at least not a stable one—but there is an interpretation. […]

(from Steve Dietz’s introductory essay)

Content | Form | Im-material - CONT3XT.NET

[…] Interpretation is an inherent mode of curatorial practice, and CONT3XT.NET must decide, generally in collaboration with the artists but not entirely, how to manifest the form and content of the network recension of any works exhibited. There is not necessarily a correct answer in this process—although there may be wrong ones—but there is a kind of feedback loop between CONT3XT.NET’s interpretive mode and the content of an exhibition, which is both an instantiation of and a theory about their curatorial practice as translation. […]

(from Steve Dietz’s introductory essay)