theLounge, a place where the public joins artists and cultural activists, plays a major part in the exhibition net_condition. In this mixed-media environment, the audience can browse, search, and 'use' web sites, connect to on-line forums, visit remote locations via web cams and obtain information about the internet projects which are presented in the context of on-line culture at theLounge. This environment, however, is not exclusively dedicated to art-on-the-internet (a.k.a. net.art). It also presents works that must be understood in the broader context in which the cultural and political consequences of telecommunication and information technology affects our daily lives, particularly their implications in the sustenance of the freedom of information and protection of privacy.
theLounge is located right in the center of the net_condition exhibition space. Artists and independent medialabs have been invited to activate this environment, to present their works, their programmes and their on-line activities. It holds a collection of old and new computers and different input and output media. One can not only surf the web or enter a chat channel, one can actually work there, contribute to the zkm on-line forum, make a printout and scan images. Besides technology, it also offers a resting place, to just sit and watch, to read a book or a magazine, or to discuss artworks with other visitors. theLounge extends what the internet truly is: not just an environment dedicated to the arts, but a social space and a forum.
An important element of theLounge is a work space that is used by the invited medialabs. These medialabs exemplify the use of internet technology by artists, art groups and cultural workers, as well as the way internet technology has affected art. theLounge will host a program of bi-weekly events moderated by one medialab and one invited art group. This program will generally consist of artists' presentations, performances, workshops or panel discussions. Some contributions focus on the manipulation of information, others offer alternatives to standard web-browsers. Then Syndicate Mailinglist, a forum for artists and cultural workers in Eastern Europe, will release a book and organize a workshop.
There is a reason to use both new and old computers, good and bad connections, digital and analog media. Artists not only use the web for (self-)presentation, they also use it as an observatory. Code is their material, the net is their workspace. Artists' projects associated with theLounge will present, for example, video images converted to moving ascii text, a sewing machine stitching together texts collected from the net on a ribbon, ways of handling broken computer equipment, and proposals for a business model of how to solve the Y2K problem. Outside the exhibition space: a robot will roam around the ZKM and spray texts that have been inputed by theLounge users. theLounge will definitely stop (be on hold), starting from the year 2000 at 00:00 hrs, at least for some part of the installation.
Walter van der Cruijsen (1999)
Published in the net_condition exhibition guide