The network – a challenge in new media

Ambassadors panel @ International Conference of Holocaust Museums – Academy of Sciences Riga 4-6 June 2012

The [NewMediaArtProjectNetwork]|:||cologne, abbreviated as“The Network”, is an experimental project environment for art and new media developed, created, curated and directed by Wilfred Agricola de Cologne (AdC), a multidisciplinary media artist, New Media curator and media art activist from Cologne/Germany.

In 2010, The Network is celebrating its 10th anniversary, itself a manifestation of independent digital culture at its best documenting at the same time a decade of new media developments in contemporary art.

Starting on 1 January 2000 as a small cell , “The Network” represents a hybrid, simultaneously a media art project, a manifestation of philosophical ideas around the themes” memory” and “identity”, a research and curatorial project, a composition of dynamic social contexts in progress, a virtual and physical network on different levels, but also a multi-dimensional event environment organised completely online as a non-profit initiative, however, not institutionally structured or associated, but realised in form of an independent art project. AdC himself is acting as a hybrid of different identities, not just as an artist, but also as the programmer, multimedia developer, curator, director in different functions and other virtual and physical instances of different kind, one might even say, he is representing “the Network” himself, re-creating himself continuously, he exists through others.

What is now manifesting itself as “the Network”, was not planned like that from the beginning. The networking structures developed during several years independently, before AdC recognized them as the fundament of all his creative activities.

Central relevance not only in the network as such, but also in concept development has the 1st of all ever realised project platforms, entitled: A Virtual Memorial – Memorial Project Environments against the Forgetting and for Humanity (AVM), which is based on the artist’s very personal views, perceptions and philosophical ideas about human memory, humanity and a positive globalization, focussing on how people coming from most different cultural, religious, social, political or ethnic backgrounds deal with memory and the essential questions of life. Here are some sub-ordinated projects in which AdC explored Internet specific participatory, collaborative and networking aspects, like: “Memorial for the Victims of Terror” (2001), “Violence Online Festival” (2002), “ Rainforest Memorial (2003) “Women: Memory of Repression in Argentina” (2004) “://selfportrait – a show for Peace” (2006). The ancient idea of the finished and completed art project, was replaced by the new type that was ongoing, to be updated and extended this way and changing continuously, offering the visitors or users permanently new reasons to revisit the online environment again and again, resulting a kind of community on a voluntary basis. In these terms, the ideas behind AVM became the fundament of all activities within “The Network”, how different they may be.

JavaMuseum – Forum for Internet Technology in Contemporary Art – stands for a wide range of new projects dealing with memory in a different way, a museum online context dedicated to the needs of a new art genre (Internet based art). The social aspects got a new dimension in form of curating, ie. taking another type of responsibility, not reduced to just selecting art works, contents and artists, collecting links and posting them online, but curating virtual space, that space, that is visible on a user’s computer monitor i.e, AdC designs/ programs specific visual contexts or interfaces for each new project realisation. Curating becomes this way an expression of a new type of artworking. JavaMuseum realised since 2001 besides some global competitions, more than 20 showcases of “netart in a global context” and hosts this way a comprehensive collection of works (1000) from the high time of netart (2000-2004).

A new creative framework started in 2002/2003, based on the perception that the Internet get its actual meaning only in an exchange between virtual and physical space, entitled: NewMediaFest – developed for a new type of experimenting, starting with –> Violence Online Festival (2002-2004), followed by [R][R][F]200X–> XP – global networking project (2004 -2007). Two of its “Memory Channels” dedicated to specific media, video and sonic art, i.e VideoChannel – and SoundLAB, became soon acting independently combining all perceptions AdC made during the years, resulting in 2006 also the foundation of CologneOFF – Cologne Online Film Festival, a new type of mobile film and video festival taking place simultaneously online and in physical space in cooperation with partner festivals.

From the beginning, AdC’s activities were addressed to an active audience, all project environments became social contexts. Consequently, service platforms for participating artists and curators and users in general , were created: see -> JIP – JavaMuseum Interview Project (2006), VIP – VideoChannel Interview Project (2007), AND – Artists Network Database (2006) – central location for organising the biographies of the more than 1600 participating artists and curators -, and netEX – networked experience – a publishing platform for announcements and calls (2005).

Long before experts were considering a WEB 2.0, AdC was already working on his personal Web 2.0 as a kind of open system. He sees his multi-facetted work on The Network as his specific type of artworking, where he can develop his abilities to the full.

Now after nearly 10 years since its launch in 2000, The Network shows itself more successful than ever based on that strong, stabile and expanding online community on a voluntary basis. While the site statistic counted in 2000 only 500 000 hits, in 2010 the annual statistics records more than 10 million hits and 1,5 million unique visitors.

This is particularly remarkable for an experimental context of contemporary art, which is acting from its structures completely non commercial as a non-profit initiative/organisation .


The Network ~
[NewMediaArtProjectNetwork]:||cologne –
experimental platform for art and New Media

NetEX – networked experience (2007- )

netMAX X– publishing environments (2009 -)

AND – Artists Network Database (2006 -)

A Virtual Memorial Foundation – memorial project environments (2000 – )

Memorial for the Victims of Terror (2001- )

Memorial for the Victims of Aids (2001-)

Tsunami Memorial (2004 -)

Family Portrait (2001-2005)

Women: Memory of Repression in Argentina (2004- )

://selfportrait – a show for Bethlehem (2006- )

Cinematheque – streaming media project environments (2001 – )

JavaMuseum –
Forum for Internet Technology in Contemporary Art (2001 – )

JIP – JavaMuseum Interview Project (2006 – )

NewMediaFest – festival project enviroments (2002 – )

Violence Online Festival (2002- )

[R][R][F] 200X – global networking project (2004-2007 )

IMPACT event series project (2005)

VideoChannel – video project environments (2004 – )

VIP – VideoChannel Projectenvironments (2006-)

SoundLAB – sonic art project environments (2004 – )

SIP – SoundLAB – Interview Project (2006-)

CologneOFF – Cologne Online Film Festival (2006 -)

Agricola de Cologne site (2000- )

Agricola de Cologne Moving Picture Collection (2001- )