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Native digital art?

Interview with Luca Lampo [epidemiC] by Alessandra C (September 2000)

Q: Do you think a certain aesthetic is beginning to develop in digital art?

A: That digital technology has an aesthetic side to it is something that even the certified programmers at Microsoft have understood.
I do, however, think that we’ve reached a turning point leading to a distinction between what we used to call "art" and digital technology. While the cultural commonplaces now find themselves in a kind of “Byzantine loop”, simulating scandals and malaise that have been around for nearly a century, beneath the Web’s surface crust runs a different train of thought, one that smacks of "modification". A sort of "society without show business". One that is encrypted.
There are certain needs, expressions and processes whose form would be unthinkable outside the Web. I think of these forms as a kind of “native digital aesthetic ".
I have very little interest in "artists" who try their hands at a work of web art so that they feel they are keeping up with the times.
When cultural-institutional rhetoric tries to “open doors to the future” for today’s youngsters, the effects are almost comical. The word "new" always has something of a stale ring to it.

Q: When we met on that hotline server, you went so far as to describe some viruses as “beautiful”. What did you mean by that?

A: It reminds me of certain parts of the worm LoveLetter:

set cop=fso.GetFile(f1.path)
elseif(ext="jpg") or (ext="jpeg") then
set ap=fso.OpenTextFile(f1.path,2,true)
ap.write vbscopy
set cop=fso.GetFile(f1.path)
elseif(ext="mp3") or (ext="mp2") then
set mp3=fso.CreateTextFile(f1.path&".vbs")
mp3.write vbscopy
set att=fso.GetFile(f1.path)
end if
if (eq<>folderspec) then... "
And so on.

There’s great drama in the sequences in which "I Love You" asks your system to shred all the MP3 files which you lovingly downloaded onto your hard disk using Gnutella. It’s quite horrific in fact!! They remind me a little bit of:

"Ahi Pisa, vituperio de le genti
  del bel paese là dove 'l sì suona,
     poi che i vicini a te punir son lenti,
     muovasi la Capraia e la Gorgona,
   e faccian siepe ad Arno in su la foce,
sì ch'elli annieghi in te ogne persona!"

Although this is a "vulgar" language like VBS... we can quite happily describe it as great style, highly effective!... Where do you find that in a museum?!... All the rest is mere furnishing... good for all portals be they virtual or actual.

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