At a Distance

At a Distance

Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet

ISBN 9780262270144
496 pp.
February 2007

Content Publisher
The MIT Press

At a Distance

Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet

Networked collaborations of artists did not begin on the Internet. In this multidisciplinary look at the practice of art that takes place across a distance—geographical, temporal, or emotional—theorists and practitioners examine the ways that art, activism, and media fundamentally reconfigured each other in experimental networked projects of the 1970s and 1980s. By providing a context for this work—showing that it was shaped by varying mixes of social relations, cultural strategies, and political and aesthetic concerns—At a Distance effectively refutes the widely accepted idea that networked art is technologically determined. Doing so, it provides the historical grounding needed for a more complete understanding of today’s practices of Internet art and activism and suggests the possibilities inherent in networked practice. At a Distance traces the history and theory of such experimental art projects as Mail Art, sound and radio art, telematic art, assemblings, and Fluxus. Although the projects differed, a conceptual questioning of the “art object,” combined with a political undermining of dominant art institutional practices, animated most distance art. After a section that sets this work in historical and critical perspective, the book presents artists and others involved in this art “re-viewing” their work—including experiments in “mini-FM,” telerobotics, networked psychoanalysis, and interactive book construction. Finally, the book recasts the history of networks from the perspectives of politics, aesthetics, economics, and cross-cultural analysis.


  1. Series Foreword
  2. Foreword

    Joel Slayton

  3. Acknowledgments
  4. Introduction: Relays, Delays, and Distance Art/Activism

    Norie Neumark

  5. I. Critical Perspectives on Distance Art/Activist Practices
  6. 1. Interactive, Algorithmic, Networked: Aesthetics of New Media Art

    Johanna Drucker

  7. 2. Immaterial Material: Physicality, Corporality, and Dematerialization in Telecommunication Artworks

    Tilman Baumgärtel

  8. 3. From Representation to Networks: Interplays of Visualities, Apparatuses, Discourses, Territories, and Bodies

    Reinhard Braun, translated by Cecilia White

  9. 4. The Mail Art Exhibition: Personal Worlds to Cultural Strategies

    John Held, Jr.

  10. 5. Fluxus Praxis: An Exploration of Connections, Creativity, and Community

    Owen F. Smith

  11. II. Artists/Activists Re-view Their Projects
  12. 6. Animating the Social: Mobile Image/Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz

    Annmarie Chandler

  13. 7. An Unsuspected Future in Broadcasting: Negativland

    Don Joyce

  14. 8. Mini-FM: Performing Microscopic Distance (An E-Mail Interview with Tetsuo Kogawa)

    Tetsuo Kogawa with Annmarie Chandler and Norie Neumark

  15. 9. From the Gulf War to the Battle of Seattle: Building an International Alternative Media Network

    Jesse Drew

  16. 10. The Form: 1970–1979 and Other Extemporaneous Anomalous Assemblings

    Melody Sumner Carnahan

  17. 11. Networked Psychoanalysis: A Dialogue with Anna Freud Banana

    Craig Saper

  18. 12. From Mail Art to Telepresence: Communication at a Distance in the Works of Paulo Bruscky and Eduardo Kac

    Simone Osthoff

  19. 13. Distance Makes the Art Grow Further: Distributed Authorship and Telematic Textuality in La Plissure du Texte

    Roy Ascott

  20. 14. From BBS to Wireless: A Story of Art in Chips

    Andrew Garton

  21. 15. REALTIME—Radio Art, Telematic Art, and Telerobotics: Two Examples

    Heidi Grundmann

  22. III. Networking Art/Activist Practices
  23. 16. Estri-dentistas: Taking the Teeth out of Futurism

    María Fernández

  24. 17. Computer Network Music Bands: A History of The League of Automatic Music Composers and The Hub

    Chris Brown and John Bischoff

  25. 18. Assembling Magazines and Alternative Artists’ Network

    Stephen Perkins

  26. 19. The Wealth and Poverty of Networks

    Ken Friedman

  27. 20. From Internationalism to Transnations: Networked Art and Activism

    Sean Cubitt

  28. Conclusion

    Annmarie Chandler and Norie Neumark

  29. Timeline
  30. Contributors
  31. Index