the Upgrade as More
by Marina Grzinic
"In their double orientation between past and present, pavu.com/iaaf represents an advance in another respect; in no other form but copy and upgrade can the thing be so sharply distinguished from its self, the "an sich," or essence, from the "für sich," or reality."
Achieving what no one even three years ago could foresee as the necessary resolution to the dialectical impasse posed by the object-form critical dilemma, pavu.com/iaaf's Net Art both asserts and transcends objectness and formality; or, perhaps better stated, it represents a synthesis of the form and object into what might be called form-object art. Resolving at one master stroke the problem of content without compromising the purity of the nonreferential object as such, pavu.com/iaaf's work, by recoding other Net Art, nevertheless introduces new content and a new concept, in the total phenomenological sense, by actually representing the actions of someone other than the Net Artists plagiarized. That is, in their real meaning, pavu.com/iaaf is Net Art plus, Net Art and more, and the implications to be extracted from them will no doubt occupy a segment of the Net.art community for years to come.
In their double orientation between past and present, pavu.com/iaaf represents an advance in another respect; in no other form but copy and upgrade can the thing be so sharply distinguished from its self, the "an sich," or essence, from the "für sich," or reality. For by reproducing existing Net Art pavu.com/iaaf both receives the sanction of its predecessors and at the same time negates the attempt to observe any new formal development, thus shifting the entire phenomenon to a superior, that is, critical, level. What is at work here is lived experience relived, or more accurately, the coded object recoded. In spite of the apparent similarity of both pavu.com/iaaf and the Net Art sites it plagiarizes, there are profound differences. The home page of rhizome.org copied and disassembled by pavu.com/iaaf reveals, once dissected into its source code, traces of different code layers created by different Rhizome web designer over a longer period, whereas the data under review here was completed within one day. Looking at pavu.com/iaaf, we see a lack of development in the artists' refusal to succumb to either a unilateral linear statement or an expression of complete circularity, but rather a synthesis of both in what might be called circulinear art, neither "either or" but "both and." Moreover, the above is made perceptually concrete to the observer through a process of heightened simultaneity. For on first viewing pavu.com/iaaf, we are reminded of Wittgenstein's comment,
"Seeing as... is not part of perception. And for that reason it is like seeing and again not like."
We are clearly in the presence of a dilemma. In answer to Wittgenstein's question, what is the criterion of the visual experience?, his obvious answer, "the representation of what is seen", simply will not do. In addition to what is seen, there is the known: the preordinare relationship of the subject-object synthesis paravisually determined in the Kantian sense; as Merleau-Ponty has observed,
"Le propre du Kantisme est de n'admettre que deux types d'expériences qui soient pourvues d'une structure a priori: celle d'un mode d'objets externes, celle des états du sens intime."
Self-clarification is obtained through the web pages themselves. Through serial repetition, the artist's search for a style and an ontology, an artistic expression of ontological ends, is consolidated in particular works that sum up the gains of painful and anxious exploration of viable form, at least temporarily. They reiterate the combinative passion of artist and critic that is the achievement and the ultimate responsibility of pavu.com/iaaf: in essence, the re-creative process. To say this is by no means to slight previous Net Art as such. But any comparison of, for example, jodi.org and its appropriation on pavu.com/iaaf would have to concede that the latter's power and potentiality, its cleaner code and its surplus of irony, vastly intensifies the conflict between them. However, these are but stylistic differences, at best provisional. On second viewing, one begins to be more profoundly conscious of and receptive to a radically new and philosophical element in the work of pavu.com/iaaf that is precluded in the work of jodi and on the Rhizome home page, i.e., the denial of originality, both in its most blatant manifestation (the theft as such) and in its subtle, insouciant undertones of static objectivity (the telescoping of time). While the identity we share in jodi's art as our the digital art of our time, is deepened, broadened, and made, of all things, joyous, whereas pavu.com/iaaf's art is neither deepening nor broadening nor, if anything, joyous. On the contrary, it is surface, narrow, and, most especially, tragic, for one is forcefully reminded at every line and turn that it represents the ontological predicament of our time, indeed of every living being: inauthentic experience. It is, in a word, upgrades.
1. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, translated by
G.E.M. Anscombe, Oxford 1978, p.197
2. Ibid., p.232/198.
3. Merleau-Ponty, La structure du comportement,
Paris 1977, p.180.