Port Logo PORT: Navigating Digital Culture
Organized by a r t n e t w e b
MIT List Visual Arts Center
January 25 through March 29, 1997

BY: John Hopkins
TIME: Wednesday 2 - 4 pm Eastern Standard Time
1400-1600 (2-4pm) Eastern Standard Time (GMT+5 Boston, New York City) which is the same time as:
1200-1400 (12-2pm) Mountain Standard Time (GMT+7 Prescott, Arizona)
1500-1700 (3-5pm) Eastern Maritime Zone (GMT+4 Halifax)
2000-2200 (8-10pm) European Standard Time (GMT-1, Amsterdam, Netherlands)
2100-2300 (9-11pm) Eastern European Time (GMT-2, Helsinki)
SOFTWARE: IRC client (John will be running IRCle on a Mac) [software info]
ACCESS: IRC Channel on an EFnet server: #PORT
CONTACT: email: hopkins@usa.net
mail: John Hopkins, POB 12527, Prescott, AZ, 86304-2527 USA (A POB forwarded weekly to John when he is traveling)
URLs: http://www.usa.net/~hopkins/eight/eight.html (project Web site)
http://www.usa.net/~hopkins (general Web site)
http://www.usa.net/~hopkins/articles/manifest.html (background)
http://www.usa.net/~hopkins/network/networking.html (projects dealing with dialectic collaboration).

In this project I will be scheduling a series of eight two-hour dialogues with a variety of people (to be arranged) with whom I have either an intimate personal and/or professional relationship with, or with whom I would find the possibility of establishing a new dialogue. This Dialogue will be presented as both form and content on the projection screens.

The project will utilize one of the most basic technology for interaction available on the net -- that is, live text-mediated IRC. This is an ideological choice based on two factors:

1) As a marginal participant in institutionalized art culture, (being either under-employed or unemployed for much of the preceding 20 months) I have limited access to stable connections and higher-band-width technologies. Depending on my location (which is not determined at the moment), I will be making my connections either from a local dial-up on a Mac Powerbook, or via high-speed networked connections.

2) The vast majority of what is, itself, a minuscule world-minority of On-line People has low-bandwidth dial-up access and I would limit the expression and mediation in my project to means that invite the greatest accessibility.

Mediation introduces an overwhelming oppositional force to the power of face-to-face contact primarily through the element of Loss. Loss of the sensual Presence that informs a dialogue can diminish the energy flow inherent in this essential human activity. Mediated communication is easiest at the more practical level of provision of information. The more mediation, the greater the probability that information is the goal rather than substantial and genuine dialogue. By pressing technology into service of this activism, I would formally seek to explore the limitations and mediations that technology applies. Content, however, will not be limited to any particular subjective parameters, but rather will be spontaneous and will spring from the richness of presence (-in-absence) and the infinite possibilities of personal connection.

Participation by the 'audience', both virtual and real is a complex issue that will be dealt with depending on the contingencies of the moment. It can be a negative or positive intrusion into the intimacy of a bipolar dialectic, and so, cannot be mapped before-hand. There is always the possibility of intrusion with the largely public domain of the Internet...

As a basic tenet of existence and as an artist, I intentionally seek to inhabit all spaces that I encounter as personal spaces of genuine dialogue and interaction -- where humane interaction based in a mutual recognition and engagement of the Other might take place.

The following is an essay introducing documentation of an earlier networking project -- a photocopy/post-art collaboration that I edited with contributions from 100 artists:

"The way that Art is defined, created, and shared is a temporal and cultural reality. This cultural reality must be constantly confronted and critically examined so that both the culture and Art might evolve. By bringing our critical Life energies into productive, honest, and consistent Dialogue with the members of our community, we act as catalysts for cultural change and (r)evolution. Through this open contact we must take responsibility for both our human rights and human obligations.

Dialogue causes important spatial and temporal genesis in the Language of Art -- it is a revolutionary Art itself when in critical juxtaposition to silence. Dialogue, as pure expression of heart and soul, is the core of all meaningful activism. Even as the literal and visual icons of culture carry dynamic social values, so Dialogue actively carries and transmits the social consciousness. Dialogue is critical at all times. Dialogue is historic in that word and meaning change in the time and space of ideology -- Dialogue is ahistoric in that each coming day brings a new imperative for communication.

For Dialogue to operate freely within all subjects and modes in our community, we must provide some physical and/or intellectual and/or spiritual space for it to exist within. As humans, we must seek to create a community space wherein anyone might freely propose subjects for humane Dialogue as well as begin that Dialogue."

JOHN HOPKINS A 1958 native of the Alaska Territory and former geophysical engineer, John Hopkins is currently a techno-nomadic-networker-artist-educator who divides his time exhibiting, working, and teaching in northern Europe and the United States. Between 1989-95 he was based out of Reykjavik, Iceland where he initiated a photography and electronic media program at the Icelandic College of Art. He has determined a probable location for the Center of the Universe, and has witnessed over twelve minutes of Totality during four solar eclipses.



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