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In The Flow: Alternate Authoring Strategies

Since 1976 Franklin Furnace, as archive, alternative exhibition space and performance venue has nurtured the artistic avant-garde. On the occasion of our twentieth anniversary season, we examine, in this exhibition,the changing nature of artistic authorship in the age of information.

In The Flow: Alternate Authoring Strategiesbrings together a selection of work which already treats content as flowing information rather than as property.

In 1937, Meyer Schapiro noted that modern artists "consider their art a free projection of an irreducible personal feeling, but must form their style in competition against others, with the obsessing sense of the originality of their work as a mark of its sincerity." Throughout the last fifty years, however, the power of originality in art to give authority within our culture has been eroded by a flood of advertising, fashion and entertainment images. More recently, personal style and individual observation have been transformed by the new technologies into packets of information that are immediately knocked-off, sampled, reprocessed, pasted and cross-referenced. The separation of genres such as writing, visual arts and music is becoming blurred as all the media are transcribed into the same digital language. Text, visuals, and sound are no longer assumed to have a single authoritative source, for they can be altered or collaged quickly and appear in a variety of formats automatically in order to be viewed on different sized TV monitors, printed by out-put devices, accessed by links or heard from sound generators. Creating content of any kind has become a single activity dubbed "authoring" by software developers.

In order to cope, artists have explored roles as collaborators and facilitators displacing the proprietary assumptions we normally associate with authorship. As the distance between action and interaction narrows, these strategies for creating content anticipate the decentralizing effects of accelerating communications.

There is no prevailing ideology or visual esthetic which unites the various strategies we are sampling in this exhibition, yet as the number of artists working outside the traditional model of art making and the methods they employ multiply and evolve, the sheer diversity of values and approaches itself becomes indicative of a possible sea-change in the relationship of individuals to their creative production.

The Renaissance paradigm of the painting as window to a single perspective which was defined by the artist but perceived through the eye of the beholder set up an equation of identity with artistic vision. While the formal illusion of this device was exposed and inverted by Modernist Abstraction, the underlying equation remained unchallenged. The pure expression of individual vision as a personal style was for the Abstract Expressionists, for example, the validating mark of originality. The assurance of a powerful "point of view" (however radical or bizarre it might be) at the core of an art work reassured viewers of their own centrality as subjects who could adopt or reject that "perspective".

As artists develop strategies which abandon the equation of an essentially personal vision with their artistic identity, the unity of the eye of the beholder is challenged as well. The artist and the viewer/interactor become nodes in a flow of information rather than an origin, or final destination. With or without intending to, artists, by their steady accumulation and proliferation of alternate authoring strategies head toward a crisis of the centralized self as a model of identity for themselves, and by extension for the beholder as well.

Daniel O. Georges
New York, 1996


The links in the home flow chart above will take you to pages relating to the works on exhibit. In the PLANETand EIES section we are re-publishing original teleconference forums (1978-1981) discussing the potential development of art in on-line media which were collaboratively authored on ARPANET, the pre-curser to the Internet. Permission for posting the information in this site was given by the various participants and authors. While copies for personal use of any information in the site is encouraged, the contributors retain rights for commercial use or print publication.


A Note About the Flow Charts:

The authorship of each work cannot be reduced to a one-to-one correspondence of titles and individuals; therefore, rather than conventional labels for the works in the exhibition, we have produced charts to indicate the flow of information en route to what is on view in the gallery. These flow charts are reproduced on the project pages linked to the home flow chart.

Key to the Charts

= authoring information
= art, art works, or artifacts
= sites or spaces occupied by the art

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Site updated by Daniel Georges January 2000. Your response and suggestions are appreciated.

dg@thing.net