Commission Control >>
Andy Deck

A juxtaposition of divergent representations of present warfare.

Culture Map >>
Andy Deck

A visualization of proportion, disproportion, direction, and indirection in the content and no content of the World Wide Web.

||| HIAFF 3.0 | university of colorado | department of art and art history | digital arts area | in conjunction with alt-x | atlas | blurr
Silvia Razgova: What is the most attractive aspect of net.art and cyber space for you?

Andy Deck: It has always been the immediacy of the audience. In other words, the work I'm making for the Internet is easily accessible via browsers. The filter-like editorial apparatus of mass media and gallery art can be circumvented by sending email announcements. Other people find my work through search engines. This immediacy has deteriorated some since the early days of the Web, when it seemed that people began viewing my work simply because I submitted my URL to AltaVista. There's much more competition now. But I still have a sense of independence that feels healthy. I don't need to cater my work to a particular curator or editor in order to publish.

SR : Do you get many e-mails reacting to your activism pages? What are some of the reactions?

AD : I would say that relatively few people initiate a direct political dialogue concerning the content of my site. That is not to say that it doesn't happen now and again, but the incidence of that kind of response is roughly the same as the number of people who seek interviews or who want to show my projects as part of group Net.art shows. This may mean that people do not sense my personal identity the various issue-oriented pages I write. I don't put my name and email address on each page that I create, and more often than not, it would require research for someone to ascertain who wrote content of the pages on Artcontext.

In other situations, as in the context of Commission Control, the feedback is structured by the work itself. In other words, the project solicits feedback. In that case, the feedback has been consistent with the overall tone of the work -- deriding the hypocrisy and violence of the NATO "solution" to the Kosovo situation. So I would say that the amount and kind of feedback is largely a function of the interface design. If the interface effectively encourages and solicits feedback, and provides thematic context, the response has been strong and insightful. Otherwise, it has been limited and erratic.

SR : What is the best alternative title for "U.S. News and World Report" that has been submitted to your site?

AD : With respect to this page, I don't think anyone has ever suggested an alternative. The gesture of calling for alternative titles was more satirical than sincere. The document to which you are referring is an example of a kind of activist work that I do to vent my spleen. My assumption is that, if I jot these thoughts down, they will likely attract a certain amount of attention via search engines. And in any event, the act of writing down my thoughts may prove cathartic.

SR : Do you (and if so till which level) differentiate your writings and reports from the field and art work? Can you talk a little about informative art?

AD : (That's a good question, in part because I can't give a simple answer.) Sometimes, I am direct about criticizing the policies of my government, either using essays or artworks that embody politically charged themes. Other times the 'activist' component of a piece of Net.art is built into the codes so that it is perceptible only through meditation on the conceptual nature of the communication that it enables. There is a danger, I think, that people might interpret this plastic research into interactive systems (Open Studio, Icontext, Glyphiti, etc.) as following only from traditions of Minimalism and Conceptualism. On the contrary, I see these two modes of activity as complementary in the sense that they each approach the problem inherent in our contemporary mass media. Whereas the collaborative interactive works demonstrate unused potential for public creativity (authorship, intellectual productivity, expression); the more thematic, "political" pieces are exercising a kind of freedom of expression that is available to citizens in the West. Regarding Informative Art, the term is intended to describe an art form that has as part of it's intent the dissemination of information. In the case of Commission Control, most of the informative content comes from articles and authors who have been associated with the piece via hyper-links. The purpose of Informative Art is to create a form of activity that opens onto aesthetic and political reflection in equal measures. The prevailing systems of communication (think culture as well as information) are propagating dominant, mostly mercenary, messages. At times I feel an ethical responsibility, based on ongoing research into politics, foreign policy, and such, to take a position that is public. I do this with art activism. While some people criticize this type of work as propaganda, I feel much more comfortable producing activist art than I would remaining silent in order to conform to their supposedly apolitical aesthetic ideals.

SR : How did the collaboration with Joe Dellinger first occur? Did you know him in the real world before or was this only a cyber space encounter?

AD : No, I have known Joe for years, and in talking to him I knew that he shared my distaste for militaristic bent of American foreign policy in Yugoslavia.

SR : You discuss "Linux evangelism" - do you view Linux as a sort of activism? If Linux is the future of operating systems, what steps do you think Microsoft will take to prevent its widespread acceptance?

AD : Yes. Transparency and open standards are much better bases for developing the communication infrastructure. Linux is just a well known example of these values in action. It's not a question of which steps Microsoft *will* take. They've been actively squelching competition for years. To give one prominent and disturbing example of their ongoing scheming, I direct your attention to the Palladium project. With it, Microsoft seeks to continue its assault on Open Source software by using provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In a nutshell, Microsoft allies itself with the entertainment industry, and ties its copyright protection schemes to decoder chips in the computer's hardware. In order to feature commercial media content, the Linux operating system would then have to use commercially licensed decoder software that could not be distributed freely under the GNU Public License. The intent is to force Linux to incorporate more and more software components that are not Open Source, at which point, the whole Linux initiative would cease to be free ($$) and transparent -- just like Microsoft's systems.

SR : When discussing the U.S.'s "Plan Columbia" on your site, you discuss DynCorp's use of Monsanto's "Round-Up Ultra" pesticide to fumigate cocoa fields, and you compare this pesticide to Agent Orange used in Vietnam. Are there documented cases of harm to humans in surrounding areas?

AD : I don't think it's particularly clear what the long term health impact will be, because adequate studies have not been conducted. But more obvious are the effects on crops other than cocoa, which have a definite consequence on the lives of poor people living in these huge regions. Since Glysophate is a defoliant that kills legal crops, the whole spraying campaign is a very drastic ecological shock to the food chain as well as the drug industry, which, incidently, has shown little sign of slowing down since the U.S. began pouring money into Colombia in the 1990s.