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SpacePlace: Art in the Age of Orbitization


SpacePlace: Art in the Age of Orbitization
An Art Satellite.
A work in progress.

A project of the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, 2006

presented at the ZKMax, Munich, from 07 June to 31 December 2006

SpacePlace [web] ::
SpacePlace [mobile] ::
SpacePlace [Bluetooth dual-screen public access] :: ZKMax, Munich, 07 June - 31 Dec. 2006
[Underpass Maximilianstrasse/ Altstadtring passage; accessible 24 hrs]

Press release:

A discussion on the CRUMB New Media Curating list about this project: "web-'curating' in the age of consumer generated content"

Peter Weibel Comments on the Mashing Discussion

Peter Weibel has replied in detail to the various discussions on the CRUMB list:

Finally I have the time to answer you more in extenso. I've been forwarded your e-mail posted on the CRUMB mailing list, in which you criticize, that the curator of spaceplace refused to publish the conversation with you. If you are referring to my person -- I have never refused that you publish my first short answer on the CRUMB list; in contrary I have sent it to anyone who wanted to read it. I've written to anybody who was concerned, that I will comment on the subject as soon as possible. Please forward this mail to the CRUMB list if you find it helpful. Initially I want to give you an idea of the site and scale in which the project "spaceplace" was conceived. The ZKM has an ongoing collaboration with the city of Munich to set up a program of media projects in a -- for many years unfortunately often neglected -- subway passage, called "Maximiliamsforum". After several presentations of videotapes and installations I was interested to involve the passers-by as active participants. Philip Pocock had been collecting for some time data on different artist projects related to the idea of orbit and space. I proposed to use his research for the site in Munich to test the possibilities of the idea of "curating by the consumer". I have been reflecting for quite some time what the advent of platforms like flickr, myspace etc. will mean for public institutions like publishing houses, museums, record companies, newspapers etc., when the audience has its own channel as its disposal to publish their photos, music, texts, news; when they can communicate these data to each other directly via the net and exchange ideas, information, works; where people can download music and videos and finally make their own music and video program; when news from Parisian suburbs on the net are offering more direct and individual news than official mass media ; when photos and videos from tsunamis and hurricanes taken by so called amateurs with consumer technology are seen globally -- what will be the consequences for corporations and institutions? Will they refuse these developments or integrate them? I myself welcome strongly these new platforms of user-generated content, these peer-to-peer communities, and the unprogrammed personal access to information. I do not consider this to be a menace to the classical pillars of wisdom, like the press, books, exhibitions, and TV programs. I welcome this emancipation of the consumer and the option of the internet as something as important as the invention of book printing. Naturally the classic institutions of information loose their monopoly. Therefore I have been reflecting how a museum should react to these developments. Why should professional curators have the monopoly to select and arrange information? Why shouldn't they just offer a framework, in which the visitor can choose the information and even add information; have exchange with other people about the information available. Why should he not communicate with other visitors about a project? etc. The new tools of the net make these old ideas technically possible. I therefore asked Philip Pocock to implement these ideas in his project. Axel Heide helped to create a new Bluetooth interface as a local possibility in the Zkmax-forum Munich to enter the site and upload material. Anyone who accepts to download the spaceplace application to their phone, is asked to start the application, and starting it can navigate and upload a 'gotchi.' That gotchi is a masked handy cam image the ZKMax guest takes. The mask is the shape of a head. In this phase only image uploads are allowed locally. Apart from that spaceplace two other interfaces are offered: Firstly: "web -" -- any member can create content, pages, upload images, text; any anonymous non-member can leave comments, but so far no images. Secondly: "mobile -" -- same as above, but limited by all but the most modern mobiles (smartphones). What you see under spaceplace is a database of artistic space projects assembled by Philip Pocock and different news feeds, which are actual web2mashs to offer people information on this topic. It is meant to be an experiment in "web-curating", which invites net users, to contribute projects to the site and local passers-by, who can via a Bluetooth interface upload information. This unprogrammed approach to an art work the condition of which can be used and changed by the consumer are for me the most important aspects. This project is a preliminary test for further projects. The long-term goal is that the databace of space projects will rotate as a satellite around the earth, that orbit projects are indeed revolving in orbit and that by tele-remote information exchange people can creatively attend this project. Naturally since this is an experiment and a test the results can be questioned and discussed.

The databank is meant to become an open platform for projects related to the idea of orbit. Therefore it can be seen as a contradiction that the data speak as "Gotchies" in the first person. This use of fiction as a narrative technique, this allusion to the developers culture was apparently misleading or at least creates the fear that other readers than oneself -- though oneself realized it quickly - could not understand the tongue in cheek approach. We thought that the fabricated, constructed, fictional character would be obvious, since persons like Galileo Galilee speak in the first person. That information was rewritten to fit into the narrative form can be interpreted as a violation of personal rights. I regret this, as the "gotchies" were not meant as an attack on artists' identities, but as an act of positive attention in the art context. The problem is that we started off the new structure of an open platform with old techniques of narration. In a way we started off with a still old curating practice: the curator did not only offer a form, but wrote the narrative content. We have assembled information, fictionalized parts of it and told something instead having the user putting in the information from the beginning. Maybe the project was still too curated by the "WhoAmI" narrations. Yet, maybe it could be understood as an "attractant" for future users, which is more effective than a verbal call for participation. The style of narration may also support the assumption that the included artists, since speaking in the first person, had been asked to participate or put in the information themselves. We believed that the fictional character of the gotchies were so evident that everybody could understand its irony. But people have different ideas of humor. We should have been more careful and make it explicit, that these are fictious characters and that this is supposed to be an open database for consumer generated content like for example the internet movie database, where it is clear, that it is not the director himself who has put in the information. We believed that we do the artists a favor in offering information on their project within this platform, which is meant to be open and does not hide, but indicates its sources -- referring to the original context of the information. We did not want to dispossess anybody, or deform in bad faith personal information, we rather changed the texts in order that they fit in this poetic narration of an universal and transhistorical community of orbital artists -- from Galileo Galilee to Steina Vasulka. This project has no commercial purpose, no entrance or user fees are requested anywhere. ZKM spends money on this project as on any other art project. We wanted to feature with this project the new possibilities of "webcurating" by the emancipated user, to push the boundaries of curatorial practice. I see in this idea an outstanding option for the future of cultural institutions and therefore I regret to have neglected some aspects, which unfortunately offended some "members" of these projects. Dear Roger Malina, I hope I could answer some of your questions.

Best regards,
Peter Weibel