(Working) Definition of Terms
In defining the terms “notation,” “realization” and “experience,” in some ways I am positing my own answer to John Cage’s famous question: “Composing’s one thing, performing’s another, listening’s a third.Â What can they have to do with one another?” (Cage, “Experimental Music”, 1955) Furthermore, my use of the first two terms has been heavily influenced by the work of Ronald Kuivila, who asked the question: “what if we begin to think of the creation of media work along the relationship of notation/realisation?” in an interview with Josephine Bosma for V2 (Kuivila, url : http://framework.v2.nl/archive/archive/node/text/all.xslt/nodenr-132496).Â In many ways this project is a direct response to both questions.Â I have simply mapped â€œnotationâ€ to â€œcomposingâ€, â€œrealizationâ€ to â€œperformingâ€, and added â€œexperienceâ€ (a term in reality borrowed from Anthony Braxton’s notion of the â€œfriendly experiencerâ€) to parallel â€œlistening.â€Â This is not intended as a simple translation of terms.Â It intrigues me that within the practice of composing fit the three terms “notation,” “realization” and “experience.”Â I believe this self-similarity may be found as well in the acts of “performing” and “listening.”Â Kuivila offers his own description of the relationship between “notation” and “realization”:
“I mean notation in a “prescriptive” sense that sets ground rules for a complementary activity – realization – rather than in a “descriptive” sense that specifies a work fixed in every detail.” (Kuivila, url : http://framework.v2.nl/archive/archive/node/text/all.xslt/nodenr-132496)
I suggest that just as notation sets the ground rules for realization, the same relationship may often be observed between realization and experience.Â Kuivila offers this framework as a solution to the transiency of technology — and thus the media arts it enables.Â Meanwhile, the framework also gives the composer of media arts a richness of interrelation between compositions, resulting in a hierarchical network that may span the lifetime of the composer and –perhaps most excitingly — may extend across many composers.Â This practice may also be noted in the playfully appropriative behaviors between generations of the post-war avant-garde.Â (Kuivila, “Open Sources,” LMJ December 2004)Â Indeed, this practice can be extended across disciplines and media as well.
Alex Galloway formally defines the term â€œprotocolâ€ asÂ â€œ…a system of distributed management that facilitates peer-to-peer relationships between autonomous entities.â€ (Galloway, â€œProtocolâ€. 2004, 243) He qualifies the ramifications of this management system with statements like â€œProtocol is a universalism achieved through negotiation, meaning that in the future protocol can and will be differentâ€. (ibid)Â In response to the crisis of media art– that is, the insurmountable competition between the individual and the technology industry– notation provides a protocol for extending beyond both the individual and the technology.
Finally, I will use the term â€œnet arts,â€ as per Florian Cramer’s proposal to Nettime (archive url: http://www.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettime-l-0002/msg00138.html) to refer to â€œany kind of artistic work in the net, be it ‘net.art’, net music, net poetry/net literature, net radio or whatever else does fitâ€. The insistence on pluralism is not as pedantic as it might first seem.Â The 1999 lawsuit against the Etoy net artist collective by Internet toy corporation eToys pushed the anti-corporate artists to realize perhaps the most expensive performance art piece in history: â€œToywarâ€.Â The goal of â€œToywarâ€ was to decrease the stock value of eToys, inc. by incorporating Etoy itself and giving the participants share options and to facilitate the communication between them.Â In this way, Etoy was able to drive eToys to drop the lawsuit; soon thereafter eToys declared bankruptcy, having lost more than $4.5 billion as the result.Â Lawsuit was withdrawn on January 25, 2000, and Galloway suggests this symbolic date for net arts’ â€œsecond phaseâ€:
â€œLike the struggle in the software industry between proprietary technologies and open, protocological ones, Internet art has struggled between an aesthetic focused on network protocols, seen in the earlier work, and an aesthetic focused on more commercial software, seen in the later work.â€ (Galloway, 232-3)
In addition to this shift, as if to add more subtlety to the statement, Florian Cramer’s proposal to pluralize net art may be the result of even further diversification of the modes and aims of art works produced on the net, and not simply Galloway’s political binary.Â In contrast, Cramer likens the usage to the English pluralizing of â€œthe arts.â€ (Cramer, 2000)