Originally published in the catalogue Teleporting an Unkown State, Peter Tomaz Dobrila and Aleksandra Kostic, editors. Published by KIBLA, Maribor, Slovenia, 1998, pp. 63-66. (ISBN 961-6304-00-3)
2. October 1998, Maribor
The South American breakthrough into the European art galleries happened at the time of the most recent, 10th Documenta in Kassel (1997) and during the Internet conferences such as "Identification" created in the New York Atelier Eye-Beam together with Blast (1998). During this conference the predominance of the Anglo-Saxon geographical, political and linguistic fields was clearly noticeable as well as the white patches around the globe -- despite the effort and wishes of the moderator and several participants to include them in the conference, it was not possible to wire them.
The contemporary artist Eduardo Kac has also warned about the problem of access to the Internet and consequently of censorship and freedom of speech. According to the biographic facts he tries to avoid any national and geographic definitions. His European ancestors of Polish origin have disappeared in the World War II. Kac began to be engaged in creating artistic works in Rio de Janeiro. About ten years ago he moved to Chicago where he became an Assistant Professor of Art and Technology at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
I have always wanted to know which definition of art is the right one. So far only one has persisted: breaking down conventions and established norms. Artist are often characterized as being insane, in reality it seems to be insane to insist in absurd situations because of self-interest. Eduardo Kac strives to diminish the boundaries -- either national, political, social, linguistic or galleristic.
Kac's linguistic problems, in the sense of meaning and word sequences as well as with interactions between words and images, are being solved in "Erratum". Old issues -- let us remind ourselves of Marcel Duchamp and his "The Large Glass" (1915-1923) and Rene Magritte with his whole opus till his death (1967) -- have by means of new technologies outgrown into developing complex systems. The fields which were separated for centuries are now being unified -- words and paintings, science and art, authorship begins to be divided among artists and the audience. The breaking of hermetically closed specific units of human behavior, which happened in art with the usage of electronic media, and the breakthrough of scientific facts and processes, are usually a topic of festivals of electronic art, including Ars Electronica in Linz, 1994, and the 3rd International Festival of Computer Arts in Maribor, 1997. These festivals promote new ideas, which are also of interest to the mass media.
Eduardo Kac's work can be seen in the context of interactivity which involves the viewer as an equal part in the art system -- in the classical sense it breaks the dominance of the artist and his work as well as the gallery and the dealer in the pyramid, in which the audience was always at the bottom - and he involves the audience so that the programmed processes of interactivity are surpassed. With his first artistic work in the field of telepresence, which includes robotics, telecommunications and computers, Eduardo Kac became known as an "artist of telepresence", naturally in the frame of electronic interactive art and not in the frame of telekinesis. The space of the gallery is thus expanded onto the Net until it vanishes. The old issue of defining space and time remains; however, in telepresence time is above space.
Technological interventions into the human body are often met with disapproval of the audience -- for example behavioristic performances or mechanical cuts in the skin, not to mention real interventions inside the body, as in the case of Stelarc, Orlan and Kac! In the case of Kac the microchip is in the ankle and enables transpondering of his body, thus the biological microstructure and social macrostructure are connected.
Kac's blood donations to the biobot and biobot's glucose being transferred to Kac's veins are on the edge of biology and humanity where the question of biological conditions of new species is raised. Stelarc and Orlan are the pioneers who have foreseen fundamental transformations in our species. The integral composition of a human which is happening in science is reaching also the field of art. Cyborg and now Kac's biobot where biological organs are implanted into machines touches at present still delicate philosophical and moral question of human identity.
Aleksandra Kostic is an art critic and curator for contemporary art as well as the head of the Multimedia Center Kibla Art Gallery in Maribor.
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