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Alex Spyropoulos

The cyberspace visionaries for the last three decades of electronic revolution, and within a context that one would characterize as "romantic", believed that they could build and support a network based upon communication that would freely disseminate information and knowledge in an attempt to dismantle a series of many kinds of borders.

In practice, the most essential part of this flow was of course limited to the countries that produce technology and the informatics / economic boundaries which are mainly created in a geometrical manner in this new network era. A more cautious inspection of the matter reveals that this flow was limited not only in the geographical distribution of technology but also in the gulfs of the hegemonic network that produced it. In other words, the corporations that juristically confined the growth and distribution of software, through the so-called "patents", have appropriated this creative flux.

The vast bunker of knowledge created which is known as "open source"- begun to shrink and disperse, and the use of code towards the construction of software became consecutively harder, since many of its primordial components started to be patented. As in the domain of biology, the electronic science lost its scientific character really early, through the consolidation of patents of its source material. In this way, some of the greater new media corporations made their appearance, based that is on the copy of non-patented open source and on the contribution of the voluntary work of the users, that is always augmenting in digital communities. The transport of Rhizome of Deleuze and Guatari across the Atlantic is of major importance, primarily concerning the use of software and, consequently, the arena of art. According to this new view, the unit-isolated producer functions for the greater unit-distributor in a cybernetic totalitarianism. This means that even though we have the abolishment of the mediators of hierarchy, at the same time only one sole concentrated gate is created between the people and the producer; a gate that achieves its centralization chiefly based upon the foundational values of television time. In the cases of the grand portals Google, Altavista and even the small itself in the domain of mew media art, function as big portals of direct product distribution that gather high viewing rates and, consequently, occupy the fire lines of the big corporations, thus downgrading the knowledge and informing and promoting commerce.All this would of course be meaningless for art, if there wasn't as ever before such immediate dependence of the creator from his/her tool and if there wasn't such a strong urge toward the new visual languages, deriving not form the users but from the new media technological market itself and the informatics science more generally. The new media users find themselves facing these tools, which for the first time in history manage to manipulate them in a direct way. That is way in the informatics domain, the viewing of art from the time being contains a technical dimension in a manner that at times becomes the meaning of art itself. In a way, art lays altogether at the periphery of networks. Inevitably confronting the industrial production of images, it essentially disseminates its byproduct or works parallel to this production. This re-establishes the boundary that constrains the periphery; the periphery that, not only in its geographic dimension, remains in this sense excluded from the participation and the interaction with the central network. As a result, a series of Ngos and Npos were formulated and reticulated with much lower cost and higher reflexes than before, in a realization of the need and the potential of a more systematized action. Their apparition and function seems easier to comprehend, if we take into consideration the collective mode of work that is forced upon by the new media as well as by the many sections of specialization that exist in this frame. The main goals of those organizations focused on the prior vision of free information flow and the incorporation of the periphery in a non-polarized dialogic schema. However, the general landscape of the arts during the of the '80s and '90s, the withdrawal from the theoretical discourse, and the autism of certain academics and artists in combination to the totalitarianism of the spectacle industry managed to undermine the range of such movements. It is quite problematizing that a chairman of AEG already in 1918 declared that we stand in fear of being balkanized in Europe. (referring to the split and the creation of small states and, consequently, economic collapse). This first use of the term "balkanization" makes us wonder whether the prototype of individualized and at times ethnocentric closed production of images constantly places us in a peripheral attitude that remains excluded from the major dominant networks.

Geographical periphery and technical education

Nonetheless, this situation does not abolish the geographical periphery, which mainly limits itself to the use and not the modification/ alteration and original creation. (In the present discussion I use the word periphery mainly with an emphasis on the Balkan and Eastern European area) I the new post-colonial structure of things, it appeared much more profitable for the technologically advanced world to recondition and introduce a section of the periphery to a production mechanism that is quite different form the mere resource exploitation of the past. In the context of this new logic, we witness the frantic development of eastern Europe in the field of video games as well as the subsidiaries of great advertising companies that undertake to approach the Balkan or the Arab public through the use of local methods and a simple adjustment of the spectacle corporations to the periphery. In juxtaposition to this central industrial growth, in the domain of the arts we do not observe a similar networking. The corresponding networking with an emphasis on the construction of a critical discourse is predominantly characterized by discontinuity and disorientation.

Certainly, the economical resources do not allow for the appropriate function of the necessary bodies that would support a creative discourse between the media labs, the museums and the academia. The same goes in the case of the dialogue with the metropolitan, the so-called "western" thought. The people who are trained to bring the European spirit in contact with the periphery find themselves confronting certain chasms, which are really difficult to forecast and bridge in a context different than their own reinsertion to the European spirit; By way of a joke, for example, when a carrier of the European spirit comes form London or Paris to support the factitiousness of national identities and the discontinuities in the history of the Balkans, a) they will find a very limited audience, b) they will be stoutly fought by the local academias as a traitor and c) they would most probably return to the European spirit and write about the new post-Balkan imaginary construction.

It is clear that there is a large gap between the post-modern and the peripheral discourse that is indeed augmented by the non-stop flow of noise from the industries of spectacle, which attempt to emulate the problems of the multitude under the rubric of open markets. The linguistic issue of the media is also a part of the same exclusion with the difference that, in the technical domain that belongs to the American rationalistic thought, things are definitely more adjusted to local needs in order, of course, to facilitate the easy training with the main aim of securing technical support to the periphery. In spite of the adjustment of the technical domain, however, we observe the bipolar of the peripheral / postmodern problems to be transformed into an information / post-information one, based once again on the lack of education infrastructure, especially concerning the advance of discursive formation and critical thinking. In practice, in the periphery we have a preoccupation with the processing and creative tools of image-making and other in other hand, in the networking center we find digital communities, digital cities, data art, which mainly focus on the production of a discourse and reproduce the inequality between hegemonic-dominant and marginal-peripheral sectors.

C. Bearing in mind the newly-formed political almost-democratic regimes that make up for the multiple dictatorships and illiberal establishments, it is easy to comprehend the creation of an intense flow of unconditional support of the Anglo-Saxon mode of expression, which in fact face serious objections in the Anglo-Saxon area itself. So, the periphery often appears to play the role of pop art for the west and indeed in an analogy similar to the second-generation American immigrants who demonstrate the most intense nationalistic outbreaks. To this direction it is facilitating that in the new media there is an intense "art for the art" phenomenon that is partly due to the fascination of the artist by the media they use but, at the same time, to a highly organized dissemination network of this genre, either in the shape of applications in the software industry or in the typical form of decoration.

b. Nonetheless, the technological marginalization that the periphery suffers often intensifies the resistance of the homogenized networks and impregnates a discourse that seeks to undermine the central craters of production. However, the difference of incentive for creation that mainly appears in the periphery, that is an immediate sociopolitical position, is negated in the transition to the west and it is often inexistent or unsupported in the periphery itself. According to all the above, it is a priori reduced but even when it is expressed, its perception form the west remains somewhat exotic. In an attempt to adjust the phrase of the Albanian curator Eddie Muka, we would dare say that the creation in the Balkans and the Balkanians themselves appear as a zoo.

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Page last modified on September 01, 2006, at 09:19 AM