Tatiana Bazzichelli, known online as T_Bazz, presents her book “Networking. La Rete come arte “, edited by Costa&Nolan, a new point of view on the technological and cultural panorama which takes shape in Italy and involves the movements and the experimentations of the underground, of the digital nets and of the auto-organized experiences of the computer communities.
The book proposes a new reading of the creative and shared use of the technologies and keeps count of not only the socio-technical aspects of the instruments and of the activities of relation which they encourage, but also of the artistic and cultural meaning which they create and created: the networking is then an activity of creative cooperation oriented at the creation of relationships, but it was also able to define new meanings with transversal practices at the subjects and in specific at the artistic experience. Tatiana sees the networking from inside: on one hand there is her historic research in the net-art and new media art context, which brings her to found the project of artistic activism AHA:Activism-Hacking-Artivism ( www.ecn.org/aha/ ) and with it an important mailing list for the Italian community; on the other hand there is the participation and the involving in the Italian experiences of net and hacking, which contribute to settle and diffuse the culture of the digital activism which characterized the last ten years of our history.
The networking is a political praxis and it has an impact on the social; the paradigm of the net allows re-elaborating the definition of artist and of art itself, which from social consume (in which production and utilization are separated and never in touch moments) becomes social practice. Therefore in the text multiple roads interlock with each other and they appeal to reader coming from different contexts, inviting them to interact with the complexity of the experiences, proposed and related in the historical and methodological aspects, and of what they have creatively and concretely experimented.
The interview tackles transversally the multiple levels of the book manifesting the question regarding the themes of the net of the hack and of the art. The book, coherent with the principles of the open access, is published under licence Creative Commons and it is downloadable in digital form from the site of Networkingart ( www.networkingart.eu), the virtual house of the Tatiana’s work and space where the critical discourses, the future developments of the artistic communities working in the net could take place.
Francesca Valsecchi: Tatiana, your book gives the idea that the buildings of nets, the viral and upstanding value of the sharing and of the cooperative development are artistic practices in their nature. According to this thought you propose a new reading of the all different form of socio-cultural phenomena which controlled the nets of digital activism, both on the Italian and international scene, in the specific political and cultural context. Which is the value, the meaning that art can express, or better to which the artistic practices can give shape, the contribute that the art gives to the net? Without generalizing asking what is art today, we are interested that you help us to make explicit which is the stronger sense of an artistic dynamic based on the net.
Tatiana Bazzichelli: the art described with the multiple experiences (object of the book Networking) takes shape from the network of the open relational dynamics, from the interconnection of subjects, groups and collectives which shared the same approach to the technology and to the creative expression in Italy starting from the end of the 70s. In contrast with the different texts that deals with Networking, the concept of net is described here not only referring to Internet but also to all the artistic, activist and creative practices which created a model of relation and of reticular development, taking inspiration from the idea of horizontality of the communication and from the opening of the informative and expressive channels. Starting from this point of view and therefore thinking on the enlarged concept of net (and of art), it is possible to realize a connection between multiple, both artistic and technological, practices, for which the main finality is to put into connection the subjects generating an open process of communication and information. Moreover with regard to the Italian case, artistic and media practices obtain an activist and political value which isn’t always known outside Italy . The union of these three artistic, political and technological components allows me to analyze, following a common path, different activities, projects and experiences which involve many artists, activists, hackers and “free thinker”, who are active in different field of action and expression but they have in common the same inclination to create “enlarged” network, platforms of connection in progress in which the figure of the networker plays a main role but not invasive.
Within the artistic discourse, I consider very important a tradition which is connected to the artistic practices of the new avant-garde of the 60s (first of all Fluxus) but also to the Mail Art, the Newism, and to Luther Blisset. Then we arrive at the description of what happened from the 80s up today in the Italian underground context, realizing platforms of exchange, integrating different medias (computer, video, television, radio and magazines) and working on the technological experimentation, that is on the hacktivism, considering that the component link to the forms of political and media activism is fundamental in Italy. In this sense we need to abandon the traditional idea of art as creation of objects in order to open it at a conception of practices, actions and processes in continuous development. The net is seen as art.
Francesca Valsecchi: The net is the more relevant theoretical aspect of your work, which you disassemble and present for the medium of people who in it create communities and of activities which with the community bring ahead. De Kerchove in the introduction speaks of social net and of a social and relevant aspect of community. Do you think it is possible to go beyond? Do you think from the underground and the submerged worlds tied with the more radical and expressive experiences, the necessity of these practices can really move on an enlarged social context? Do you think it is possible that the net in some ways can assume the definition of paradigm and an epistemological role of the society?
Tatiana Bazzichelli: I underline many times in my book that Italy is a lab of underground experiences which can become a model for others. But at the same time, it represents a sort of creative “island” which isn’t always able to export its production. Because of this, the idea that the “Italian scene” was rather marginal. Moreover, there is a great linguistic obstacle in exporting the Italian thought abroad, where the dynamics of networking occur rarely in the underground places (I’m thinking above all to North Europe and USA ). Many projects of Italian networking are indeed realized in Italian and diffused with local channels. In other cases, the political dynamics tends to slow a more enlarged diffusion for inevitable mechanisms of inclusion-exclusion, which are often source of greater radicalism but even more often they are consequence of programmatic slowness (and infinite debates!).
I am convinced that different political and cultural dynamics from the end of the 70s to the beginning of the new century allowed to create a particular technological and creative model which difficultly lives in a so expense and reticular shape as in other countries, with the interconnection of collectives, artists, activists and different individualities who recognize common aims and act following a similar attitude towards the technology and the sharing of informative and communicative resources. It’s enough to think for example at that main theme of experimentation which connect projects of networking such as Radio Alice up to Telestreet, New Global Vision and independent server such as Autistici/Inventati and Isole Nella Rete which offer a different vision in comparison with the commercial realities of which internet is full of and which are points of meeting and exchange for many people.
In general, the description of the relations present in this Italian dynamic network of artistic, technological and political experimentation wants to demonstrate how it is possible to start critical and creative paths of success which invest in alternative channels in comparison with those dominated by the economy of market, by the policy of the control and by the commercial information, often presented in the western societies like the only possible solutions. However I am convinced that it isn’t a creative island disconnected from the reality: internet whom today everybody work with is the result of connections, struggles and relations where the hackers play a key role and many subjects are an active part of the book and forerunners of different artistic and cultural processes which have contributed to form the current Italian technological and media imaginary.
Francesca Valsecchi: In different passages you write that the net is at the same time the medium and the message. And the net in your representation represents the people which animate it, the net is the artist of the work of art of networking (it is a practice founded on the relations among human beings). What does it mean for the artist and the artistic activity the coincidence of medium and message? This is traditional of the art or does it break with some code?
Tatiana Bazzichelli: The art of networking is transversal at the arts which characterize themselves thanks to the medium of the communication and realization. With that I underline the fact that defining these practices with the medium of utilize is not more enough. For this reason the net becomes art and the artistic and activist works become collective practices, actions and processes. I am critic in defining some practices as media art (the same Transmediale Festival in these days in Berlin presents a conference to reflect on the opportunity of using this word). There’s no more need to persist in restricting some practices in a media ghetto: why do not use such a word as art? It is just there that lays the problem. We don’t leave this word to who want to take the right to use it, but we must define multiple practices as art.
In the case of the book Networking, the concept is more enlarged and art comprehends different phenomena from Punk to Cyberpunk, to Cyberfemminism, Hacktivism, net art and Netporn. For the artist making the medium correspond with message means to pass from dynamics in one way which live towards the traditional vicious circle artist-work of art-collectionist-museum- audience, to open them in a reticular connection between networkers and audience, participant and use of different integrated media (how demonstrates Vittore Baroni in one of his illustrations of 1981 “Real correspondence 6” ).
Also Derrick de Kerckhove in his introduction at the book Networking underlines that the network is the message of the medium Internet. The net of the relations represents so the message of the Internet, the technical net. Therefore in internet, medium based on the creation of nets of connection, the message becomes the social nets. As a consequence, medium (internet) and message (social nets) are the same because some connections and works couldn’t live without the net and the enlarged possibilities which it allows. But internet isn’t the “condicio sine qua non” for the creation of works of networking, which live also with the technical medium itself (an example is the extraordinary experience of Mail Art from the 50s).
Francesca Valsecchi: In different points you explain the more political aspects of the groups and the movements you have met. It is clear the importance of the hacker community, of the local characterization, the history of punk, the self-management I like some of your definitions. And above all the points in which you own explain the necessity of a conflict. The book isn’t political but it belongs to a certain political culture. What adds the political characterization of a route, what distinguishes the networking which animates the politics, which has a precise vision and which invests in a conflict? Above all obviously towards the society in the forms of social hack which we are observing.
Tatiana Bazzichelli: The projects of networking described in the book act in those spaces, social and cultural gaps apparently at the margin of the everyday life, but they are an important territory for the re-invention and re-writing of the symbolic and expressive codes with who transform and decode our present. The art as collective interaction develops above all outside the context of galleries and museums and lives with other different phenomena such as the Punk, a movement that in Italy is the basis for many next practices of artistic and technological activism; the practices of the graffitists which personalize with the TAG the walls of the space of life; the literature Cyberpunk, which in Italy becomes the starting point for the building of a radical political imaginary; the hacktivism, which sees the figure of the hacker who acts to create open channels of communication and propose a conscious use of the technology.
This is why in Italy it is often used the word “social hacking” to define an independent use of the technology with the creation of collective practices which act directly on the both digital and physical territory. I think at actions such as Netstrike, at the collective creation of free software, at the idea of sharing and exchanging data and information fighting against every efforts of censorship which have seen in Italy a great participation for the affirmation of the cyberrights The fact that many technological projects were born in the Social Occupied Centres from the 80s is very important. Also for this reason, in the history of the Italian networking the building of a hacker community is often placed side by side at the need of finding new forms of political criticism and of realizing social battles to build conscious alternatives (the born and development of the Hackmeetings demonstrate it). But if it has a real result it’s another discourse.
Francesca Valsecchi: On the anecdote of the biennale of Tirana (it was a great fake at the system of art realized with the unconscious involving of Oliviero Toscani): what was it for? It was an episode that is gone down in the history or has it impressed in some way on the system of art?
Tatiana Bazzichelli: Actually the episode of the biennale of Tirana says much more, how it emerges from the reflections in the book which accompanies the narration of the episode. It wasn’t only a simple fake against the system of art, it was a real conspiracy made at table which has seen acting unknown people, who we don’t know if not under two pen names: Marcelo Gavotta & Olivier Kamping. It was a conspiracy against a famous magazine, Flash art, and it demonstrated how the unwritten rules-laws of the Italian system of art (but not only Italian) are actually conditioned by the market, and it is also itself monopolized by the merchants-collectionists who influence the market.
They decide who can and cannot be considered artist in some context, who can take part at the Biennali, who can be inserted in the loop of selling of the works in some galleries. The conspiracy of Tirana shows that the strategies of market become aesthetical canons, that it’s not true that emerge only the better, but who know certain influent people and who are inserted from those in the “right” channels. It is clear that we don’t find the hot water: everybody knows it, but nobody says it or it is said but in reality nobody is interested in changing the things, because they are functional to a system and to a survival of a determined economy. Marcelo Gavotta & Olivier Kamping have instead thrown all this in the face of the world of art regulated by the market, using with consciousness the mediums such as Internet, playing on the factor of the anonymous identity and on the great superficiality with whom the great events are built in Italy (they are great only for the participants, the journalists who write about it and the people who are involved in the same loop).
The more incisive thing is that Marcelo Gavotta & Olivier Kamping realize all this touching sensible nerves on whom the loop of the artistic market are based. In the specific, they act on the relations of market of Giancarlo Politi and on the fame of a person such as Oliviero Toscani, who is the curator of a Biennale (that of Tirana), without knowing it, proposing four artists among those one is considered by Osama Bin Laden a representative of the Jihad in art. So he supports the false Oliviero Toscani in presenting the artists at the Biennale and it is less before 11 th September.
This episode is an extraordinary work of net art, which unveils the existence of the dynamics of network which support the market and which not want to show nothing apart from what shows clearly. Maybe for this reason the episode was easily forgotten, because it embarrassed everybody and it wasn’t well supported by an appropriate loop of functional networking for make it a “legend”. It was conducted by two unreal identities and then they dissolve leaving only a communicate at the newspaper how it is readable in the few article in Internet which remember the episode.
The experience of other artists who have realized the fakes, such as 0100101110101101.ORG is very different. They subvert with intelligence the mechanisms of making art and they are always inserted in the loop of the artistic festivals and today also in the galleries one. At this point we should need to discuss about the fact that if it is more functional being virus from inside or outside. Surely stay inside helps to become a legend and to build a mythopoeia on it. But the question is: what is really more incisive?
Francesca Valsecchi: The hacking is research, activation and manipulation. The innovation of doing, of the experimentation and of the realization of the wishes against the innovation tied to the consume and the forced generation of the need?
Tatiana Bazzichelli: In an idyllic imaginary surely yes, but the hacking is also a different way to relate to the innovation tied to the consume, which cannot disregard this. Maybe it can try to subvert it and in this sense it is also a need. Say to some person to not use the computer, to switch off the brain I think that we also couldn’t resist so much
Francesca Valsecchi: At the beginning of the book you explain that the art practiced as a form of hack hasn’t got its sense in its object manifestation, but it re-discovers it in the net of the relations which it triggers around it and beyond the work of art itself. Obviously the role for excellence of the artist is reversed; what is the new role of the artist in the collective art? If not an individual role, how do you describe the artist who is a connector?
Tatiana Bazzichelli: The networker, or better the operator of the collective net, becomes the creator of contexts of open exchanges, where the audience enters actively in cause, contributing at the development of the artistic process. But it isn’t a new idea: the figure of the artist is put into discussion since the avant-garde and above all from the Fluxus. Here the spectator was invited to eliminate the gap between him and the artistic product even if the dichotomy artist-spectator in part stayed. How the video artist Simonetta Fadda notices (she has wrote the postface of the book Networking and made the editing of the publication) the intent was revolutionary but it was recovered from the system since it was the art to enter into the life and not the life into the art, what instead it occurs in phenomena such as mail art and the next artistic experimentation with pc and technology. In this sense we can say that in many hacker practices and in many works of artists and activists of whom the book deals with, the life is transformed into art, art of making network.
Francesca Valsecchi: The art which you speak of in the book and also for your research is art tied to the technologies. It is true that it is tied to the margins of the underground, but it is able to satisfy an historic denotation which interest both for its artistic nature and for its technological aspects. What do you think of it?
Tatiana Bazzichelli: This book is the product of different connections and relations that I had during this last ten years. Personally it was very difficult to write it because I left pieces of myself (and indeed I didn’t manage to deliver it and modified it continuously). But if I don’t insert so much of myself I will not be able to write it. I think it is normal: it is a book that deals with relations and actually we have relations with people with whom we share something. I tried to describe these relations which involve groups or person such as 0100101110101101.ORG, [epidemiC], Jaromil, Giacomo Verde, Giovanotti Mondani Meccanici, Correnti Magnetiche, Candida TV, Tommaso Tozzi, Federico Bucalossi, Massimo Contrasto, Mariano Equizzi, Le Pigreca, Molleindustria, Guerriglia Marketing.it, Sexyshock, Phag Off and many others. I tried to assume a detached and critic point of view trying to go at the origin of the formation of certain imaginaries from which I was fascinated. I speak of the Cyberpunk, of the Hacktivism, of the Punk, of the born of certain tech experiences in the Social Centres, trying to understand why in Italy they have taken a certain direction, from what impulses and wishes are born, from which particular social and political loops they were born and which subjects generated everything.
Above all it was difficult to ask me on what I have the right to write, on what not because I was the person who thinks on it, what I would have left and what I would have underlined. Surely it misses some pieces, I could have discuss more arguments but at the end I think that the book tells a complex story which would be analyzed in this words (I refer myself at the relations among art, technology and activism). And above all I hope that it can be reason of deepening and source of reflection for all who want to tell similar stories or they haven’t got the luck, as us, to share beautiful experiences which we have lived in the past years.
This is an invite to be always more numerous, because the story isn’t finished.
Francesca Valsecchi: Have you ever thought to discuss the concepts elaborated in the book with some of the communities of whom you have talked? They are dates which can be useful to aliment the debate.
Tatiana Bazzichelli: Sure, I’m already making it in the various presentation of the book. For example at Transmediale I present my text with Jaromil and Gaia Novati; I have already presented it with Simonetta Fadda in Milan and I hope to have the opportunity to present it many other times with those who made and make this history. Obviously I would present it also inside our community, I am thinking Hackmeeting because I think it will be a great occasion of reflection both in technological and political terms. And then this book isn’t only “my” work, it belongs to everyone who contributed to its writing and I thank another time.
Francesca Valsecchi: Positive points: it is very beautiful this chronicle of this piece of Italy elaborated for themes. I must say that it was interesting to see again and in part to live again all those situations exploring them with your personal point of view. The part of the hacking, even if a little bit long but much descriptive, is already literature and bibliography
Tatiana Bazzichelli: A real and diffused practice of the net needs reflections and experimentations; the technological and cultural story was sometimes pioneer and sometimes forerunner and more often rich of contributes to these reflections and experimentations. This book is a new link for the comprehension and the practice of the net, a link connected to the world of the art which dialog with the net towards the languages, the aesthetic and the symbolic meanings tied to it.