|Robert Atkins: Lowell Darling, our next panelist, is a long time Northern California conceptual and media artist. He's probably best known for his heroic struggle to unseat Jerry Brown as governor in 1978. He ran on a platform of ëincredible good luckí and urban acupuncture to lace up the San Andreas fault, garnering Jerry Brown's endorsement and 82,000 votes in the process. His online artworks can be seen on at least two sites that I know of--TalkBack! and the Whitney Museumís.|
Lowell Darling: One day about a year ago Iíd put up my page for the Whitney site. I think it was the first Web work that they had an artist do, but it's essentially an archival, non-interactive piece. It's called Hollywood Archeology and it's based on all the gossip and and all the stuff that I did and all the people that I was involved with in the mail art movement of the 70's. I was talking with a friend of mine who is a science book publisher and he had just signed a deal with a scientist at Stanford to create a closed classroom on the Web, one of those you pay to access: You take the course but you don't have to actually go to college. Then I realized that I was doing one of the first shows for museum exhibition on the Web and there was this guy from Stanford and weíre both getting rid of whole chunks of instuitutions and academia. So I wonder where the hell it all leads?
I have a paranoid fantasy about the people who are doing all the genetic engineering. They're friends with the people in the computer industry and they're going to get all of our art, all of our music, our poetry and our knowledge into the computers and then they're really going to let the viruses go and get rid of it all. I always looked at computers as some kind of science fiction thing and doing art on it is like doing art on Mars to me. But Iím not like most artists. I've avoided galleries and museums throughout most of my career because of the Internal Revenue Service. When I first started showing art they said that I couldn't deduct my expenses because I didn't make enough money as an artist, so I had an eight year battle with the IRS during which I swore not to make or sell or show art. Fortunately the conceptual art movement was emerging so I fit right in, but I carried it to extremes. I guess David Ross at the Whitney figured I'd be a likely candidate for trying this new thing on the Web, but ironically its led me back to the galleries. I've done this weird, full circle, but since a lot of people havenít seen the things I've put on the Web, I figure, ëOh well, why not show them?í
After the Whitney I did a piece for Robert [Atkins]. Itís based on a tombstone I made at the end of the war in Vietnam. I was really frustrated with everything going on then. So that's when I started doing all those absurd things like lacing up the San Andreas Fault with rawhide. During the war, Iíd suggested to the American Battle Monuments Commission that they build a monument to soldiers going to Vietnam to die. I figured that if we reward them before they die, they might feel better and not mind going to war so much. They wrote me back suggesting that this didnít apply to soldiers on their way to war, that it was actually about soldiers who weren't even born yet. Odd, no? So I put the idea away.
Recently, I had an actual tombstone made that says ëunborn soldierí and I am writing world leaders suggesting that they erect this monument wherever they gather to remind them that the arguments they can't resolve today could create wars for people who havenít even been born yet. The piece on TalkBack! is in frames format. On one side you see a bible that you can click open to the concordance on war and peace. This bible belonged to the British chaplain for the League of Nations and my father gave it to me years ago--hopinng that I might become a Christian, I'm sure. It didn't work. The other part is the Tomb of the Unborn Soldier and the third frame you click on is for postcards from World War 1, which belonged to my Uncle Max. Max Gaines was General Pershing's cook and these are actual postcards with a place to put the stamp and the address. All the pictures are war scenes that are beautiful French landscapes littered with bodies. There are beautiful tree-lined streets and on all the trees are bodies with signs on their chests with the words ëtraitor to his countryí in four different languages. So this is a serious anti-war piece and as a response occurs, it will go on line. As far as the interactivity, I've heard from a lot of old friends but I agree with Robert, Iím not getting much interesting feed back on any of these Web sites and most of the interest seems to be technological. The Web is primarily a technological thing, people are concerned about the technology and how to work it better and I find that rather boring.
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