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[ 1 ] Teleporting an
Unknown State
, 1996-98, 01

[ 2 ] Eduardo Kac

[ 3 ] Telematics

[ 4 ] Aspects of the Aesthetics
of Telecommunications
Eduardo Kac

[ 5 ] Telepresence Art
Eduardo Kac


In which circumstances or on what occasion did you introduce [electricity or electronics] TELEMATICS or THE NETWORK into your work?

A key issue in my work for approximately twenty years has been the creation of what I call "dialogical aesthetics." This has entailed the creation of artworks that are predicated on the interaction of sentient beings (and not only on the human perception of objects). I have been also concerned with what can be referred to as "the drama of distance" (perception based on geographically remote connectivity) and the role of network topology in sensorial experience. Networking has been crucial in the creation of dialogical art.

How can you describe the technical and aesthetical part played by [electricity] TELEMATICS in the work you will be showing in the [Electra] TELEMATIC CONNECTIONS exhibition? Please give your comments as regards these points.

"Teleporting an Unknown State" is a biotelematic interactive installation. In other words: it is a digital telecommunications piece in which a biological process is an integral part of the work. The installation creates the experience of the Internet as a life-supporting system. In a very dark room a pedestal with earth serves as a nursery for a single seed. Through a video projector suspended above and facing the pedestal, remote individuals send light via the Internet to enable this seed to photosynthesize and grow in total darkness.

The installation takes the idea of teleportation of particles (and not of matter) out of its scientific context and transposes it to the domain of social interaction enabled by the Internet. Following my previous work with telematic interactive installation and my exploration of non-semiological forms of communication with electronic media, this installation uses the remote transmission of video images not for their representational content but for their optical phenomenon as wavefronts of light. Internet videoconferencing is used to teleport light particles from several countries with the sole purpose of enabling biological (and not artificial) life and growth in the installation site.

This piece operates a dramatic reversal of the regulated unidirectional model imposed by broadcasting standards and the communications industry. Rather than transmitting a specific message from one point to many passive receivers, "Teleporting an Unknown State" creates a new situation in which several individuals in remote countries transmit light to a single point in the gallery space. The ethics of Internet ecology and social network survival is made evident in a distributed and collaborative effort. During the show, photosynthesis depends on remote collective action. Birth, growth, and death on the Internet form a horizon of possibilities that unfolds as participants dynamically contribute to the work. Collaborative action and responsibility through the network are essential for the survival of the organism.

According to you, which are the consequences that can arise from the combination of art and contemporary TELEMATIC technology?

The combination of art and telematics is the strongest when telematics acquires a signifying role in the work, i.e., when the piece cannot exist as such by any other means. The term "contemporary telematic technology" basically means the Internet and its myriad manifestations. The current Internet has its own limits and potentials, which will be expanded by the next Internet (Internet 2). Among the most important consequences are the use of real time as an aesthetic parameter, negotiation of meaning through dialogical interaction, the investigation of distributed cognition in art, and the enabling of collective agency on a global scale.

*These questions are based on ones asked by Frank Popper of the artists in his seminal exhibition Electra: Electricity and Electronics in the Art of the 20th Century in 1983 at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville Paris