Telematic Connections, like many of the works in it, is
a hybrid affair. Part history, part speculation, partly onsite,
partly online, it crosses boundaries between art, communications,
and popular culture. Its four sections include installation works,
past and recent film clips, online projects, and a "telematics
timeline." Through these various media, the exhibition presents
the ways in which artists use technologyand the Internetto
explore both the utopian desire for an expanded, global consciousness
and the dystopian consequences of our collective embrace, willing
or not, of computer-mediated human communications. At the same time
Telematic Connections places this emergent work within a
The eight installations that comprise the "Telereal"
component of this exhibition use the Internet and computing to explore
this mediated embrace between parties, whether human to human, human
to machine, machine to machine, or even human to nature. Here, as
well as in the ten online projects in the "Datasphere"
component of the exhibition, what the visitor-participant does in
the galleries affects (and is affected by) someone or something
somewhere else in physical space. "The Virtual Embrace"
signals this shift from the viewer as an observer to embracing us
as a participant, integral to the work-process of art.
While Telematic Connections presents the possibilities for
connections and affiliations, it still acknowledges a persistent
question about connective new media. Artist, theorist, and teacher
Roy Ascott stated it poignantly already in 1990, "Is
there love in the telematic embrace?" Is there content
besides technology? Engagement beyond entertainment? A message that
is not only the medium?
Telematic Connections is not fundamentally about technology.
Nor is it an attempt to define a new genre of art practice. It is
about what MIT computer scientist Michael Dertouzos calls "the
forces of the cave"some of the eternal human traits that
have never left us, including the desire to connect, even to merge
with anotherbut in todays world of ubiquitous computing
and global networking.
Telematic Connections: The Virtual Embrace is a traveling
exhibition, organized by Independent Curators International (ICI),
New York, curated by Steve Dietz, and made possible, in part, by
the Rockefeller Foundation. The website is copresented by the Walker