[spectre] Web Tour Miltos Manetas

isabelle arvers zabarvers at hotmail.com
Wed Dec 17 17:55:27 CET 2003

« Web Tour»
Pompidou Center - Cinema 2
Thursday 18th December - 8 pm

Since october 2002, the Ciném at s of Tomorrow have organized the 
“webtour”, a monthly event focussing on the web creation in a chosen 
country. Invited by Isabelle Arvers for this last edition dedicated 
to Greece, Miltos Manetas presents NEEN, a new artistic movement and 
the online artworks of Angelo Plessas and Andreas Angelidakis, 
neenstars. We will discuss about the last NEEN statement: "The 
Websites is the Art of our days".

Miltos Manetas is from Athens. He lived 10 years in Milan and now he 
lives between NY and Los Angeles. Manetas has produced oil paintings 
of wires, cables and computer hardware, created short looped 
fragments of video games such as "Tomb Raider," and exhibited 
computer-generated vibracolour prints among other things. But he was 
impatient with critics and curators who had yet to come up with a 
rallye good "-ism" for this new generation of creativity. After 
securing financial assistance from Art Production Fund, Manetas went 
out and hired Lexicon Branding, a California firm responsible for 
creating such product names as Powerbook, Pentium, Zima, Swiffer and 
Dasani. Lexicon's assignment was to create a name for this new 
movement. In May 2000, during a packed press conference at the 
Gagosian Gallery in Manhattan - and a panel of people like Harvard 
cognitive scientist Steven Pinker ready to provide analysis of the 
term -- Manetas unveiled a new word for an art movement. Actually, it 
was the squeaky, synthetic voice of a Sony Vaio that made the 
announcement. The word was "NEEN." (from the Salon.com article)

Andreas Angelidakis – Architect for bots

Angelo Plessas - Web designer

Isabelle Arvers is a new media curator involved in net.art, digital 
cinema and computer games culture. Upcoming projects: Game Time, a 
game art exhibit in Melbourne, Australia, September 2004 and the 
net.art section of the festival Banana RAM, Ancona, Italy, June 2004.

Mail interviews of Miltos Manetas, Andreas Angelidakis and Angelo 
Plessas done by Isabelle Arvers in august 2002


IA : could you present the ElectronicOrphanage ? what is the aim of the EO ?

MM : ElectronicOrphanage is an international club for people who 
produce art and theories, related with the world of the computer 
The headquarters of EO , is a store front in Los Angeles, at Chung 
King Road. In this pedestrian street, located in Chinatown, where you 
can find the most avanguarde LA art galleries and designers, Miltos 
Manetas and Mai Ueda, opened EO in Feb 2001. EO is a black cube, 
where a large screen is left white for projections. When the 
galleries in the street have openings, the Los Angeles EO is also 
showing a piece , created for the occasion from a guest artist. The 
rest of time, that space, is a studio where people ( the Orphans) are 
"working" on neen and telic (check www.neen.org 
<http://www.neen.org/>) . We are planning to open soon an EO in 
Sangai, China and Goa, India.

IA : with who are you working in the EO ?

MM : People involved : Andreas Angelidakis*architecture, Mike Calvert 
*art ,Amy Franceschini and Future Farmers* art, Joel Fox*art, 
Juribot* human robot, Tim Jaeger* art ,Norman Klein * theory,Peter 
Lunenfeld *theory, Lev Manovich * theory, Jonathan Maghen*webdesign, 
Miltos Manetas*production *art , Sushi Matsuda*communications, Yvonne 
Force * adviser, special projects, Jan Aman* adviser, special 
projects, Angelo Plessas* art and webdesign,Francois Perrin 
*architecture, Rafael Rozendaal*art, Steven Schkolne*art, Mark 
Tranmer (Gnac) * music ,Nicola Tosicn * EO's CEO and webdesign, Mai 
Ueda *production *art.

IA : could you describe the orphans ?

MM : They are orphans in terms of an ideology. In the past, people 
would believe in a system of ideas such as Marxism or Anarchism or 
whatever : they would belong to an intellectual family. Today 
instead, we don't have any of those even if , most of us came from 
similar schools of thought or from commun life expereiences. We are 
very different from each other, we are orphans and we want to stay 
such. But the ElectronicOrphans, are also people who understand the 
power of computing: they are mastering this power and build samples 
for the unconventional use of computing. In between the Eorphans, 
there are 2 visible categories: people who are Telic and Neensters. 
The Telic people are doing a lot of research, theory and planning. 
They have a sense of duty . The Neen people instead are careless and 
they are doing only Neen. Telic is encouraged and respected in the 
ElectronicOrphanage, but the real target of the club is Neen.

IA : what do you think about this new creators generation ?

MM : I think that its the most interesting that came out after the 
Dadaists. Finally, we are done with modern and postmodern: this 
generation is creating new utopias.

IA : what are you looking for in network performances ?

MM : Performance is real space, is as much exhausted as installation 
art. But looking on virtual bodies, creating them actually, because 
they don't exist any great samples yet, can be a surprise. We start 
working on this direction in 1998 . We introduced then CHELSEA WORLD 
( www.chelseaworld.com <http://www.chelseaworld.com/>) , but the 
artworld has been slow to catch up, mostly because they are Apple 
users and Active Worlds are for PC. After Chelsea, we builded 
WorldPlusPlus ( www.worldplusplus.com 
<http://www.worldplusplus.com/>) and now is coming the Neen World. 
This time, it will be a private universe, only for people who are 
Neen or Telic. We decide to be more selective and to quit losing time 
with the vast artworld.

IA : could you present your villette numerique's performance ? what is NEEN?

MM : We will build a new World in Active Worlds, called NEEN. This 
will be a kind of a stage . Andreas Angelidakis will do the 
architecture. The Neen World will be projected in the Villette 
Numerique . The content of the performance, will be a preview and an 
advertisement of a new show that we are preparing for CASCO in 
Holland in November, called AFTERNEEN. We will also use the occasion 
to present some selected pieces from the previous shows that 
ElectronicOrphanage curated: www.biennale.net 
<http://www.biennale.net/> and www.whitneybiennial.com 

IA : do you think that art is for everybody ? if yes, what is the strategy ?

MM : art has never been for everybody and the same time is something 
that everybody can do. It's an easy thing : just look around for what 
has not been done yet and invent it. That's why we use Internet, 
because there are all these .com spaces available. They are open 
opportunities, if for example, you work on the concept of 
miserability in the old world , you 'll come with aestetics that all 
other artists are using in the same way. But if you decide to 
register miserability.com, you have to find a very unique way to 
rapresent the concept, because there is only one domain name 
possible. Our strategy are names: we name what has not been done yet 
and then it happens.

IA : video games in the world of the 11 September ?

MM : why not ? Videogame violence is white violence, while real 
violence is a dark one. We can all use some white violence : its 
therapeutic. Or maybe you mean that reality is more spectacular than 
videogames ? In that case, videogames are opportunity for thought, 
philosophical gardens , adorned with explosions, where we can meet, 
walk together and talk.


IA : Where are you from ?

AA : I was born in Greece, but I'm 1/2 Norwegian, so I grew up in a 
strange mix of two very different cultures, spending half the time in 
Greece and 1/2 in Norway. I studied architecture at SCI-ARC in Los 
Angeles, and through my friend Jim Isermann, I got to know the 
contemporary art scene at a great moment. Later on I met Adelina von 
Furstenberg, and through her I learned a lot more about contemporary 
art. At more or less the same time I did my masters at Columbia 
University which had just introduced the digital department.

IA : How did you meet M Manetas ?

AA : I met Miltos through the gallerist Emily Tsingou, when he was in 
Greece participating in an exhibition by Adelina. At the time neither 
of us had a computer, it was 1994, and I was just leaving for New 
York to study at Columbia. We met again a few months later and we 
both had our first Macs, and where totally addicted.

IA : What kind of collaboration do you have with him and with the orphans?

AA : I dont know if collaboration is the right term. I would say we 
are part of the same landscape, a landscape in the sense of 
intelectual topography. So of course we collaborate on many things, 
discuss ideas, judge each others' work and quite often we do projects 

IA : You are the EO frontstore architect ? what were the main ideas 
at the origin of this project what were your constraints ?

AA : At the time, Manetas was doing the famous "cables on the floor" 
paintings, and all his visual landscape was cables and hardware, 
everywhere, which is almost unavoidable when you have many computers 
in a space. My first reaction for EO was no cables, no hardware, no 
floor and to definetly avoid the classic "computers on tables" view. 
So I decided to take everything off the floor, and have it hanging 
from the ceiling. Then the main concept was to  have the space 
function as a drop-down navigation menu, a space designed as a 
website. You can close the menu and see just a screen, or open it to 
Basically EO is a screen, so when the menu-workstations are closed, 
all you see is an empty space and a screen floating in the back. I 
made the basic equivalence that a storefront is a screen. The only 
constraint was the budget, but I decided to design the space as it 
should be in an ideal world, and then build a demo-version instead.

IA : Do you work differently to build spaces for internet or for the 
physical space ?

AA : Not really. What I usually try to achieve is a very abstact 
quality, a moment when you dont know if what you see is a space or a 
screen, a building or a computer rendering. So in the built projects, 
I try to create this moment with materials that are native to the 
built world, I try to achive virtuality not with technology but with 
regular building materials. This moment could be described as NEEN, 
which is an abstract term in itself, something that we recognize but 
cannot describe.

IA : I guess i understood that you will create the Neen architecture 
for the villette numerique's performance. How do you imagine Neen's 
world ? and then how will you create it with the help of the others ?

AA : At this stage the NEEN world will be on the Active Worlds 
platform, which I'm familiar with since many years. I dont know yet 
what it will be like, I am just starting to design it. The main idea 
is to have a plateu for discussion and a home for every Neenster. 
These will be separated by an empty space. As a schematic starting 
point it will like the entrance to World++, but of course there will 
be one crucial element that makes it Neen.

IA : What do you think about the concept of " event " in architecture ?

AA : I prefer buildings without people.

IA : Have you ever worked before on stage or performances ?

AA : Yes, a long time a go I used to do the sets for the art-techno 
band called Stereo Nova, and recently I did Pause space in 
Stockholms' Fargfabriken, where the photographer Jean-Pierre Khazem 
staged performances with models.

IA : What is your next project ?

AA : Right now I'm working on developing + updating the brand 
identity + new space / shop of Forever Laser Institut in Geneva, 
designing a travelling museum retrospective of a well known artist, a 
renovation of a house in Long Island city and a playground- landscape 
in a school in Armenia.


IA : Where are you from ?

AP : I was born and raised in Athens,Greece with italian roots.I used 
to work as CAD programmer few years ago until Flash 3 came out and I 
started as a hobby to make some very simple animations.Maybe the 
reason of this ,unconsciously ,was that i used to hate all these 
cartoons and animations when I was a kid.

IA : How did you meet M Manetas ?

AP : Through Andreas Angelidakis.

IA : What kind of collaboration do you have ?

AP : He buys domains and I design flash animations.

IA : How do you work with the other orphans for webprojects?

AP : For example with my closest Neenster-friend Mai Ueda we worked 
together on her web site.We were bored one night in Los Angeles and 
suddenly Mai showed me a Comme des Garcons dress.We immediately came 
up with the idea to make a flash animation from the patterns.The web 
site was finished after half an hour.

IA : What is the meaning for you to create for internet ?

AP : I dont know if it means something, it is just the only place. 
Its like being in the jungle, and you try to create a civilization, 
you find a script, you test to see if you can start a fire.

IA : You often take internet or computers interfaces in your artwork, 
do you think that there is a new aesthetics in it ?

AP : That’s the only thing I do.I make web sites as an artwork. I’m 
not sure if the aesthetic is new, but definetly the way you 
experience is new, and the pressure to keep a user interested for 
more than 5 seconds, without doing too much. That is the most 
difficult thing , to keep interest but not necessarily to impress, 
but to have the same fascination as looking at a beautifull sunset 
maybe. Its always the same but something makes us look at it.

IA : What would you like to explore now ?

AP : I would like to interfere more with Active 
Worlds(www.activeworlds.com).I was so amazed when I first walked as 
an avatar in Chelsea and World++.I think it is the best place to hang 

IA : Your definition of digital creation, what do you expect from it ?

AP : I think digital creation is endless.There are some things that 
we loved last year and now we cannot stand. But something cool is 
going on all the time.

IA : Your next project ?

AP : I have just finished the web site of  British musician Gnac.
Now I am starting to design the website for an art magazine called “ 
The Breeder ” (www.thebreedersystem.com) and also I will design some 
avatars for the world NEEN.

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