Internet comme espace de création anarchique – Interview de Gerard Hovagimyan, net-artiste

Gerard Hovagimyan (né en 1950) est un des pionniers américains du Net Art. Depuis plus de 30 ans, il a développé un travail expérimental dans différents groupes et mouvements artistiques : les installations et performances vidéos dans les années 70, le cinéma et les performances punk dans les années 80, et le Net Art dans les années 90. Ses dernières oeuvres utilisent la performance en réseau, des installations interactives et sonores pour aborder des thématiques souvent politiques et polémiques comme l’oppression culturelle des mass-media, le poliquement-correct aux USA, ou la nouvelle société de surveillance. Dans un contexte actuel où les tentatives de contrôle de l’Internet se concrétisent et se multiplient, le point de vue critique de cet artiste « défricheur » et expérimentateur du Web est des plus enrichissants. Il semblait aussi très intéressant de vous faire découvrir cet artiste qui, par son parcours artistique, a fait le lien entre la contestation underground des années 70 et celle d’aujourd’hui.

(Je remercie chaleureusement Gerard Hovagimyan du temps qu’il a bien voulu m’accorder pour cette interview passionnante et pour les liens qu’il a bien voulu m’envoyer pour compléter ce billet. Afin de ne pas trahir les propos de Gerard Hovagimyan dans ses réponses, je publie cette interview dans sa version originale, en anglais)

- Could you introduce yourself and your work in a few words? (background & today’s art work)

In the 1970’s I was doing conceptual art, performance art and installation art. My first solo show was at 112 Greene St. an underground space in Soho. I exhibited a series of 2 ft x 2 ft signs that mapped the gallery space using a code.  I also did a series of Punk Performance pieces one of which was part of a video called Chant Acapella that was produced by Davidson Gigliotti and Jean Dupuy. It was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  I also worked with Gordon Matta-Clark on several of his works including the Conical Intersect in Paris.  In the 1980’s I acted/performed in No-Wave Cinema in New York and also opened an art gallery in the East Village called Virtual Garrison.  In the 1990’s I became interested in using the computer as a way to make art. Interestingly enough, my father was an electrical engineer who worked with computers and telecommunications. It’s funny that I should wind up in an art that uses both.

- Could you describe your first contact with internet art? in which context (geographical / artistical / historical /…) ?

I was one of the first artists in New York to make internet art. Indeed, I made a piece in 1993 called BKPC (Barbie & Ken Politically Correct) that was made before the Web was popular. This piece was presented over the thing bbs as a series of photos uploaded onto the bbs that members could download. At the time I was trying to get gallery representation but no-one was interested. One gallery TZ’Art  was very nice to me but would not go any further than being polite. One day as I was chatting up the gallery owner, Thomas Zollner I noticed that he had downloaded all my photos from the bbs and was displaying them on his screen as a screen saver. I thought it was very interesting that in one system my art was not acceptable for a gallery but in another it was. It was at that point that I joined a loose internet collective called ArtNetWeb.  I started putting up my own Internet art on ArtNetWeb and I also joined The Thing and rhizome being a member of all three core internet art sites coming out of New York City.

- Why did you choose this way (internet art), those tools?

I was always interested in media and performance. I was also interested in conceptual mapping, code, linguistic structure and social architecture. When the personal computer and the Internet came along it presented the first opportunity to mix all those things together into a viable artwork. It also presented a virtual space that was outside the art world and yet was an extension of it.  It was a place of anarchic creativity similar to what I had been involved in Soho before it became popular. I’ve always moved out of scenes and movements as soon as the rest of the herd arrives.  I am more interested in experimentation and changing/rupturing my world view than I am in making a slick art product to sell. I’m interested in things that open my mind and challenge me. Using the Internet and code to create art immediately separates one from people who work in more traditional art forms.

- Was this choice about: Will of rupture? Fascination for the new, the untouched creative land ? Need of exploration with new tools ? Critical statement towards art history or context ? Other reason ?…

The choice to use computer and the internet to make and distribute art is a break with the existing art world and all of it’s mechanisms for buying selling and displaying physical objects.  As an artist I am interested in being in the creative moment of curiosity and exploration. I am not interested in becoming a light manufacturer of aesthetic objects for circulation in the art world. Nor am I interested in living and promoting some sort of bohemian alternative life style as an artwork.  When it comes down to it that is what the art world has become; a mechanism for fashion and real estate development as well as an unregulated commodities market.  When the Internet came along it was a place that allowed for creative exploration without any of the oppressive machinations of the art world. The other part is that there is really no money in Internet Art. Anyone looking for a career or a path to riches, fame and a fabulous life style will avoid Internet and computer art.
The other thing is that writing computer code and working with logical abstractions and procedural language is difficult.  I’m not very good at coding but I know enough to be able to define a coding problem and set-up the parameters for a skilled coder to write a program.  Most artists don’t have clue about those things. They don’t even know how to frame a problem for a programmer to solve. I straddle both the physical art world and the virtual art world. I am well versed in 19th and 20th century art history but I am also part of the 21st Century digital art realm. I prefer the digital over the physical. Although art starts in the mind it must manifest in physical form in some manner. This is also true of digital art. The human/machine interface is the place where the art happens.

- As some art theoreticians, do you think Internet art has been built on a 60′s – 70′s art heritage?

Yes and no. Part of my initial attraction to the Internet was the creative chaos of the early web. There was no organizing principal and following a modernist/post-modernist discourse is rather besides the point with Internet Art. I did start to port some of my deconstruction and conceptual art works to the web in 1993. Among them Faux Conceptual Art and  BKPC (Barbie & Ken Politically Correct) These came from 60’s-70’s art discourse but I took them directly to the Internet. I didn’t bother with the art world.  The Internet is also an information system and a social web that reflects ideas proposed in the 1960’s by Marshall McCluhan, Regis Debray, Fred Forrest, John Brockman, Gene Youngblood etc.

- Is Internet art « conceptual » ? why (or how)?
First you need to define Conceptual Art.  The closest definition is the one that Lawrence Weiner proposed which is in the form of a statement:

(1) The artist may construct the piece.
(2) The piece may be fabricated.
(3) The piece need not be built.

Each being equal and consistent with the intent of artist, the decision as to condition rests with the receiver upon the occasion of receivership.
Lawrence Weiner, 1968.

What Weiner talks about is the intention of the artist.

When you talk about Internet Art what are the intentions of the artist? Is it to engage art history and art historical discourse? Is it to propose computer coding as artwork. Is the internet a communication medium or a creative medium?  Is the Internet a subjective viewpoint or an objective viewpoint or it is both and neither? We don’t know yet and that is the most fascinating part of working with the Internet.

- Internet is a communitary and collaborative medium. How can be an art communitary and/or collaborative? (from the artist’s point of view, from the reader/viewer’s point of view, from the medium’s point of view)

The Internet connects everyone to each other but I tend to think of the internet or internet art as having two aspects; one is the virtual connections and the other is the physical world that is being connected to.  The basic function is one human being connecting to another via a network.  What is transmitted back and forth is the crux of the art.  I have been working with an artists group called Artists Meeting that is collaborative. We do physical interventions but also have a web site and do a lot of theoretical discussions via an email list.  Our project is ongoing. The end result will be a sort of digital archive that may reside in some university library at some future date.

- What do you think about creative commons and the status of artworks on the web today?

Anything that is put up on the Internet can be copied therefore copyright is totally arbitrary.  I use material from the Internet all the time. If I use other peoples work for instance music, I ask them permission via email. I am usually granted permission to use their music because I am a non-commercial artist. One recent project was an evening of curated videos selected from youTube by the artists from Artists Meeting. This was shown at Postmasters Gallery in New York. In this case we were using the idea of found media as an extension of Objet-Trouve. It wasn’t necessary to ask permission. We did escalate the process by using a youTube tool developed at Eyebeam(a new media research center in New York), that makes YouTube Triptychs possible. With three panels there is the potential for juxtapostion and composition of the raw materials of youTube video.

- Could you tell about your recent projects? and your next projects?

My most recent project is called Plazaville. It is a remake or rather a deconstruction of the 1965 Godard film Alphaville. I’ve shot it in HD video and have uploaded the separate scenes to the web. You can get these by searching iTunes for Plazaville Series. It was commissioned by and you can also get the clips from their site – I’ve also created a channel on my youTube site where you can access the clips. I have been working with actors, artists and videographers notably Christina McPhee who have been re-staging, re-enacting and interpreting the original scenes from Alphaville. This was made possible because the original movie has been digitized and put up on google video. The script has also been put up on the Internet.  The piece has been randomized. The narrative is no longer linear because it’s not constrained by a movie theater nor the linearity of film. You can access scenes in any order you wish and construct the story with your imagination. I am also presenting it as an installation work in the form of a projection piece. The individual clips are loaded into a computer and a max MSP Jitter program assembles the scenes in a random order it plays continually.

I have a several ideas for future projects. One is to do a web video series that extends Plazaville into a detective story that is about investigating the collapse of American Democracy that started with George Bush. Another is a collaborative sound/video piece with Peter Sinclair called Out Of Frame that would involve a narrative that occurs through sounds that are produced outside of the video frame. A third idea is to camp out in Paris and re-shoot Alphaville in as many of the original locations as possible and then treat it as a projection installation. I would do this project with French speaking actors of course.

- In which artists / projects / communities are you interested in, these days?

I am especially interested in Fred Forrest. I saw an exhibition /retrospective of his in Philadelphia and I had a chance to meet him when he was here.  I am also interested in the Artists Meeting group, of course I am a founding member of that group. My longtime collaborative partner Peter Sinclair who lives in Marseille is doing some terrific work these days. He has been working with Jerome Joy who I find very interesting. I like as Well Wolfgang Staehle who does terrific projection pieces. I also love Joseph Nechvatel who is another new media artist who splits his time between Paris and New York.  I am particularly keen on the artists who put together Perpetual Art Machine–  they are Lee Wells, Raphaele Shirley,  and Chris Borkowski. [PAM] is the most advanced interface for viewing artists’ videos in existence. The three artists are themselves very important and very interesting.  I think that Marc Garrett is a tremendous force in Internet Art.  I also think that Agricola de Cologne makes wonderful use of the Internet as an organizing medium for art and artists.  I am also a big supporter of the Split Filmfest in Split Croatia. They always do an amazing job the head of that is Branko Karabatic.

- What do you see as the most interesting in the web today (or tomorrow)? in art ? in Internet Art ?

I like the way that web 2.0 is creating ambient sociability. I find that such environments as youTube and Facebook are great subjects for art.  I also like the permeability of information that flows from the internet into the real world and back out onto the internet. It’s a very strange media/information environment. I feel like I am disembodied and everywhere and yet I am a physical being living in New York City. I see the Internet as an information society that is the global society. It is this society that is a fitting inspiration for a global art form.

Le projet Plazaville (ici au complet) sera présenté à la Foire d’Art Contemporain de Cologne au Vernissage TV Booth, du 21 au 26 avril 2009 :

Quelques oeuvres plus anciennes :

- KBPC (Ken & Barbie Politically Correct)

- Love Songs From My Computer

- Terrorist Advertising

- Soap Opera for Laptops

- Rant / Rant Back / Back Rant

- illustration insérée en haut de l’article : Installation « Shooter » de Gerard Hovagimyan.

Recommandez cet article à vos amis

et rejoignez nous sur Facebook et Twitter...

3 commentaires pour cet article

  1. jm

    Si on veut lire des articles ou des interviews en anglais, on va sur des sites anglophones. Il me semblait avoir vu un fr devant

  2. Audrey Bartis

    la traduction de cette interview sera publiée dans quelques jours.

  3. jm

    Merci pour la précision.

2 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. pedago-tic » Revue du net du 9 avril 2009 au 14 avril 2009 :

    [...] Internet comme espace de création anarchique – Interview de Gerard Hovagimyan, net-artiste | … – [...]

  2. Twitter Trackbacks for Internet comme espace de création anarchique — Interview de Gerard Hovagimyan, net-artiste | ReadWriteWeb [] on :

    [...] Internet comme espace de création anarchique — Interview de Gerard Hovagimyan, net-artiste | ReadWri… – view page – cached Gerard Hovagimyan (né en 1950) est un des pionniers américains du Net Art. Depuis plus de 30 ans, il a développé un travail expérimental dans différents group — From the page [...]

Réagissez !

Politique de modération des commentaires

  • A propos
  • Best of
  • Buzzing
  • Tags

ReadWriteWeb est un blog dédié aux technologies internet qui en couvre l’actualité et se distingue par ses notes d’analyse et de prospective ainsi que par l’accent mis sur les usages et leurs impacts sur les média, la communication et la société. Il est classé parmi les blogs les plus influents de la planète par Technorati et Wikio. Publié en cinq langues, il s'appuie sur un réseau de correspondants locaux en Nouvelle-Zélande, aux Etats-Unis, en France, en Espagne, au Brésil, en Chine ainsi qu'en Afrique francophone. Ses articles sont publiés dans la rubrique technologie du New York Times.


hébergement infogérance Bearstech

Appli iPhone



Activité sur le site