Today in the Internet films exist as information about them, as illustrations to them, as avi files as the best (I don't really think its the best way). Filmmakers' biographies, annotations, articles, stills, shot fragments. Contact address below . You can contact filmmaker (distributor) and find out where (how) to see the work you were looking for (for all your life). Good service. Essential service for marginal artists, audience, communities, like CINE FANTOM. But not enough. I mean there could be more.Hypertext is the best way to tell stories, hundreds of stories simultaneously. And interaction is merely a field for experiment, the same as stage, film, brain. Net language is closer to film than video. Video doesn't think by frame. Web does. Not only. It gives a chance to operate with such ideas as line, parallel, associative (digital, wow) montage. Its a fascinating experience.


In my net comedy "Anna Karenin Goes to Paradise", its character, one browser, says "Net belongs to girls and trains".
"Is it your manifesto?" - i was asked already twice.
"No" was my answer "Its just a conversation".
If I should formulate my attitude: "net could be conversation, dialog, monologue, story, book, film, drama, dance". They mustn't be interactive or hyper textual, to be netconversation, netdialog, netmonologue, netstory, netbook, netfilm, netdrama, netdance. The only term is to be born to exist in the net. The only because objective. Such sine qua non as communicative/informative value or cyber ideology could stay as indications(signs) not as requested conditions.

Good intention to defend net art from real art institutions turns out as new restrictions, artificial restriction. Real world old motto "Down with old art!" founds its new home (comfortable and well defended) in network. Those who proclaim that real art is communication remind me those who shouted "Real art is hard labor in the honor of communist future."

A statement that net doesn't need art critics nothing but step back to the land of darkness. It'll bring us to situation when

If artist don't realize net as reality to their experiments, curators (artists/curators) will use it as broadcasting channel as if it were just media, tool. Type "net art" in any of search engines - numerous items will be found, but all appear just sites devoted to art (galleries of painters, photo artists...archives of film and video, museums representing their collections in the net).

My experience shows that its important to make informative experimental film page, that its easy to transfer experimental film to avi file. But idea to make netfilm is more timely.

Or time will be lost and net turn into phone book.

I also cant share statement that using of complicated net languages, not common scripts, tricks.. all these hated frames, javas, vrmls... is hype and not in the nature of democratic net, where not everybody has the latest versions of browsers and fast computers. So what? To wait when all resources are used by commercial companies and all users poisoned by their notion of virtual worlds. Inaccessibility to all is bad reason not to do smth. Quite the reverse:

After i made "My boyfriend came back from the war" i get messages which could be easily divided into two groups: "war" and "frameset".So, I get questions (reaction) to the story and to its language. It once againensure me that net (web) is a proper place for story telling and that ithas the language which is nice story itself. Your projects (LOVE, FFF...)prove the same to me. How do you see it? What are key words of your internet feeling (perception)?

I have never given it too much thought. It is unclear to me whether my works are born out of the necessity to communicate something orout of the necessity to communicate as such. That probably has something todo with one of my motto's: "The metaphor wants to be free". It is not thatI'm opposed to metaphors, but I dislike metaphors that are used to explainsomething. In those cases I'd much rather hear/read/see the thing itselfthan use the metaphor to 'navigate through its content'. 'Metaphor' is usedin its broadest sense here: language as such is probably the ultimatemetaphor.I want language/the metaphor to be free: to evolve according to its ownrules and principles disregarding the fact whether it still remainsfunctional, i.e. whether it still has meaning (in the conventional sense ofthe word). As such language becomes a game and a story does not necessarilyhave to 'mean' something.

I appreciate all reactions to my work and there are no wrong or stupidreactions because when the work is finished I become a user, with the samestatus as the other users. When a work is finished my identity as an artistdisappears. What remains important is the interaction between the work andthe user, that's what will ultimately give 'meaning' to the work. And my'interpretation' is not any better or worse than the interpretation ofsomebody else.

To answer your questions: technically I don't see the net as very differentfrom other media. I mean every medium should be used in a way that exploitsthe medium to its fullest capacity. As for interactive media that meanstrying to create a compelling environment. As for networked media thatmeans an implicit social aspect: who else is looking at this work at thistime? Can I contact the author and/or other users? Where is this stuffcoming from and will it be the same tomorrow? Etcetera.I want interactive works to be(come) better than immersive movies. For methe involvement of the user is of utmost importance. The 'effect' is themost important thing. Your work moved me. That was it's effect. I wouldlike to know whether you are able and/or willing to (try to) control theeffect of your work on its users? Does manipulating their emotions interest you?

May be not to manipulate, but create. Its fascinating to make thiscold language and digital environment reflecting feeling, not information, not data, not cyber ideology... Yes, you are right, it must be manipulation, when user, serfing in communicative paradise suddenly runs into emotions which he could experience in real life or when he meets with happy woman who died under train's weels in 1877 in the novel of Russian writer.

I don't think this language is any colder than other languages. It all depends on who speaks it. But I am also very interested in emotional messages, on the verge of being sentimental. And it does still seem weird to see someone with tears in his eyes in front of a computer screen (unless they have a really bad monitor...).

I was trained a graphic designer for print (without computers). used to make music, write poems, stories and essays, make furniture, make analog art. Now me and my girlfriend have bought a former factory which we are transforming bit by bit into a home. So that keeps me busy off line. And I have a son who demands a lot of my time and attention too. But I hardly do any artistic stuff for other media than the web. And for the money I do hypermedia design (mostly websites).

Coming back to the emotions thing, how would you explain your own attitude? You appear like a very cold hearted, arrogant woman, who eats men for breakfast. I like that attitude, personally. But does that pose have something to do with this medium, or is it just the way you are (or is it typically Russian)?

its not the medium - i heard the same from people who've never received e-mail from me. its not Russian - my mother is very warm hearted woman. and its not me - i can spit out a few men and they'll confirm ;) I understand your question.

My real life and emotions are hidden from you unless we communicate a lot and you know enough. Net communication is a good way to escape, to lie and pretend, i dont. At the same time i prefer not to use net as a place where all truth about me is stored. You like to inform humankind about Veerle pregnancy, you dedicate your new server to your son's birthday, on your sites one can find a lot of documents of your life...I like to look at it because your life is interesting for me, but i'd never put on the net my daughters photos. again not because i want to separete my life to real and virtual, but because of a sort of allergy i have to this well developed system of self representation on the net. That's why i use all these invented characters who acts free in the space which totally belongs to them.

Somehow I feel that the net is a very intimate medium. Probably because communication is always one to one: there's always one user in front of his or her computer looking at one page. You don't broadcast websites. Normally I'm a very shy person. But the ambiguity of private and public are very fascinating to me. You can show your innermost self and still remain anonymous somehow.

Michael, now you have a new server Its just a collection of your old works, well designed place for new ones or it has its own philosophy?

At the moment it's actually just a portfolio (I plan to do more with the site in the future). I try to give it an interesting and entertaining interface and atmosphere because that's what I like to do. It doesn't have a specific philosophy except maybe for illustrating my ideas about interface design.

Speaking of which. I think hypermedia are very sensual. If only because Netscape's cursor changes into a hand when you find something clickable. Simulating touch has always been important to me as an interface designer. I don't really see that sensuality in your work (but maybe you haven't noticed it in mine either). What are your thoughts about this and interface design in general?

In february i've been to a women festival in Finland, where one girl-professor made a report on awful situation in interface design: "Everything is made by men and for men!. We, women, need our own, special screens...!" It was funny.

That's not true. There's a lot of stuff out there made by women for women. And a lot of it is very interesting. Though very sexist, mostly, too.

In fact, as a user i'm absolutely indifferent to software outward appearance, to screen savers and mouse pads. As for web design, i used to oppose it to net art in order to draw a line between those who uses the Internet to advertise and consume and those who search and develop it... childish approach... now i agree with your words that design is real communication and i understand that in general its more deep question and demands a lot of attention.

For me, packaging my stuff in a commercial design is a good way to 'distribute' art. I dislike being in a gallery and having to look attentively at everything that's hung on the wall just because you know it's art. I always end up looking at the fire extinguishers (which are by far the most interesting pieces in many gallery or museum shows).

olia: but, i guess, on surface my style is only a parody to commercial staff: transparent links instead of stressed, bitmaps instead of colorful images. May be its more reflection than sensuality, more critic than design, or just a lack of special skills. Any way i prefer minimalistic expressions.

To quote my favorite 80s artist Jeff Koons: "Criticism makes people unhappy." :)

Your manner i call baroque :).

And to quote my favorite designer: "If one fights excess with soberness, every simple act seems improbably grotesque. Fighting the surplus with the nothing expresses itself with the little, which is always hopelessly too much compared to the nothing. There is no defence against the baroque. Even destruction heightens the baroque effect." Minimalism is an extreme form of baroque.

Good conclusion. What do you think about our cooperation in heaven&hell? Also your FFF experience is very interesting for me.

michael: :
FFF was very chaotic. In the beginning it was very fast too, with one or two updates a day! Jef and I didn't know what we were doing. After a while we realized that we were communicating with each other in some strange way that words didn't allow. We got to know each other really very well. It was strange to meet Jef in the flesh after a year of FFF: I knew him so very well and still he was a complete stranger. Weird. As for Heaven&Hell I think the communication is much more obvious, maybe because it's a more structured environment (as opposed to FFF, H&H has a concept: you're in heaven, I'm in hell). I really like the way it is developping and as you said via FTP: 'it_almost_feels_like_sex'. That's true. It's like fitting pieces of a puzzle together and making up the picture and the pieces as we go along. I wonder who will come first. ;)

olia: if is a question i have no answer yet, i'll better upload new files.

HOW IT WAS: -----------------------
olia lialina: 3 articles & introduction
january, 1998: introduction

Making 'Agatha Appears' at Budapest c3, I recalled Metaforum III (Budapest,October, 1996). At that time I spoke of the Internet being open for artistic self-expression, that the time had come to create Net films, Net stories and so on, to develop a Net language instead of using the web simply as a broadcast channel. And, of course, the sale of 'My Boyfriend Came Back From the War' to Telepolice On-Line.

What is happening now, more than a year later?

First: I still get messages saying: "Look at my new web movie". Following the link, I find Quicktime or Shokwave moving images whose only value is to prove that plug-ins become more and more perfect and bring us closer and closer to home cinema.

Second: Net art is still as cheap as a floppy. For me, the intercoupling of these things is obvious.

Another thing is quite clear. Questions of what Net art is and 'does it actually exist' appeared in 1996. Today, almost every article devoted to this subject still starts with the same sentences. They have become more ornamental than anything really looking for an answer. They are following a fashion, not real interest.

All media festivals, exhibitions and conferences are now well decorated too: there are Net art sections on event sites, some Net artists and some beautiful games with the term 'Net art' itself. They are attractive and not expensive at all.

It was a year of Net art sales. And important to stress that artworks were much cheaper than ideas. Variations on the theme "Net artists don't need institutions" or "Net art can exist without galleries or curators" were mostly welcomed by real galleries and institutions.

What else? A year ago 'Net art' as altavista understood it, was all these sites devoted to art (galleries of painters, photo artists...archives of film and video, museums representing their collections on the Net). Now Net art is supposed to be the same, plus, that is to say: on-line galleries of off-line stuff plus a small group of artists close to nettime or syndicate or 7-11 mailing lists, and to each other.

That's what one can see on the surface. What was going on inside?

Nothing that could make feel that net artists existence means something in the world they create.

A year ago it was so sweet to announce that art theory, the art system, art commerce - all these are relics of the real art world system, a heritage to forget, but in fact this statement only brought some variety to off-line art institutions, not an alternative.


Developing a theory of its own could enhance the value of Net art. At the moment it is understood in the context of media art, of computer art, of video art, of contemporary art, but not in the context of the Internet: its aesthetic, its structure, its culture. Works of Net artists are not analysed in comparison with one another. We are always viewed from an external perspective, a perspective which tries to place native on-line art works in a chain of arts with a long off-line history and theory. And this remains the interest: to place us, to phenomenalise us, in the social sense of the word.

Definitely, you meet more interest to the phrase The Internet Project than to its inner being, to the fact of on-line collaboration of artists from different countries than to their actual work.

Again and again: "What is Net art?" instead of (for example): "Browser interface in the structure of Net art"
or "Downloading time as a means of expression in the works of Eastern European net artists"
or "Frames and new windows in Net narration"
or "Different approaches to finding footage or servers"
or "Domain names and 'under-construction' signs from 1995 to 1997".

With pleasure i'll take my words back if i'm wrong and with great pleasure i'd participate in such researches as a critic.

In brief: with no theoretical support inside, Net art meets only vulgar one-season interest from the outside world. This wouldn't be a problem if it didn't make things cheaper and that in some months all innovative experiments, new art forms and language will be buried as a last-season fashion. And this will happen already internally. (Net art was born in the Net and will definitely come back to die.)


In fact, while I was thinking what to write about Internet art structures, several Net galleries appeared and some on-line festivals gave prizes to some artists. This looks like the birth of a new world; maybe it is and the time to judge has not yet come, but it's not difficult to see destructive tendencies in these foundations.

On-line galleries and exhibitions are nothing more than lists, collections of links. On one hand, it fits the nature of many-to-many communication; the Internet itself is also only a collection of a lot of computers, and it works. On the other hand, list by list compilation brings us to an archive situation, to the story about keeping and retrieving information. On-line galleries only store facts and demonstrate that a phenomenon exists. They neither create a space, nor really serve it.

The same applies to festivals and competitions. Even if they are intelligently organised they are not events in net life. Mostly they are not events at all but just the easiest and trendiest way to save money given for media events by funds or whatever. Now that everybody knows the Internet is our paradise on earth, the long-awaited world without borders, visas, flights or hotels, it is the best way to make your event international.

>From my point of view the most perceptive and valuable creative structures around ARE Net artists co-projects and curated initiatives. Or they COULD BE, if they were not so closed and didnt provide an ironic distance to the idea of creating a system.

In fact every Net artist or group in the process of creating a work builds their own (and at the same time common, for everybody) system of self-presentation and promotion, invents exhibiting spaces and events. After all, it is in the nature of Net art to build the Net. But again and again the worlds you create easily become an exhibiting object at media art venues. Something that could be invaluable tomorrow is sold for nothing today.


It is not only a problem of misunderstanding and misapprehension: I was told by art-sale-experienced Net artists that since web space is physically cheaper than canvas or videotape and since web pages are something that every schoolgirl can make on her school computer, pieces created and stored in the Net will be cheaper than whatever made with the aid of more complicated techniques and knowledge. Sounds logical. Logical yet, until Net art is an export product, not a point of prestige in the system of Internet values, not an item of commerce for those who invest money in the Internet, for example.

Banks, big companies or simply rich guys have always bought pieces of art for their collections or found it prestigious to sponsor artists. Now they or their younger brothers spend enough money (at least in Russia) to be well represented in the Net. Why not harness their desires? Why not advise them to collect, to buy and help develop the art of the next century? ;)

Details and demo next time.

It's not only about money. And generally, the question of being paid for net art is no different to the question of payment on the net. Publishers, companies, advertisers and everyone else in the world is scratching their heads about it. I talk about going further, exploring the Net, not beeing prisoners of last year off line fashion. It's not really my dream, but I'd prefer if tomorrow new net artists would come and say: she made pieces good only for virtual offices, what we do is real net art, underground, new wave, what ever. Its better than nobody will come (because where?) and only media critics will mention that once there was a period in media art, when some media artists experimented with computer nets.

to be continued: february