MICRO-NATIC reflective summaries

Staking Claims in Cyberspace

"Yes, I have been reading the work, and thinking about how I might respond. Frankly, the nationalist import in all of this Micronations shit, I find very problematic... " pop~AGENT, Amanda Crowley, Australia

MICRO-NATIC reflective summaries

Crowley‚s critique of nationalism is a clear reference to on-line nations being male, and being self referential. It also brings up the question of immanent fascism. Her honest response is a reaction to the observation_ set (series of articles) on actual Net developments we have surveyed. Pop~TARTS would like to take AmandaŽs point one step further by inviting considerations from readers to discuss why more women are not involved in the creation of Micronations, or defined digital territories. We can speculate that for sure, women in general are not involved in the on-line community, but we feel that is not a satisfactory answer. To put it more concretely: by concentrating on the resources available on-line, and with reflexive models of observation, we hope to engage new viewpoints for this topic.

embassy equipment of NSK

The Micronations topic sets up an observation of the phenomena of state building and male dominated nationalism, including power plays, manifestos, and hierarchies transferred into data-space. We ask if the act of staking claims in virtual space as an artistic statement is an analogue transfer of geographical models, or is it a reproduction in the auto-poietic-meaning. Furthermore, how does the artistic system of building and appropriating these various mechanisms into Micronations and state building activities relate to stock trading in the Internet. Isn't it simply the creation of a mental model for the transfer of real --but exclusive-- virtual life circumstances into the generally accessible (real) data-space.

Intranet structures of the financial and economic world allready contain materially functioning mechanisms of digital exchange and trade. But, these networks are economic net worlds, based on specific rules that define the exclusivity of their participants and exclude certain user groups (creating economic refugees). Itself a self-reference to the socio-cultural evolutionary trend releases, Intranet cartels control invisibly.

The art system is based on the exclusivity of data, and is now even trading in Net projects with info-goods (like West Bank Industries). But these are affirmative assets in the self-generative art subsystem. Relevant in the temporalised environment are also transitive affairs, which cross the anachronistic system separators of disciplines: art, sociology and commerce. Certain old claims are dissolved in Cyberspace, and new ones are defined: room space, Net-space, hardware space, and time.

The Strategic Collapse of Net-space

Stamps of the artist group NSK

Andrew Garton, a recent visitor in Vienna from Australia, and post-graduate at the Center for Animation and Media, in Melbourne, described the "Strategic Collapse" of art spaces in his lecture at the University of Vienna (at the Institute for Theatre Research). Garton referred to theater as a suspended space, relating it very clearly to dataspace. He also made reference to the pop~Topic Micronations, by citing texts and agreeing that this phenomena is an artistic virtual construct. He especially points out the role of the artist, as we would call her, as an inter/vent/or.

Micronations, Garton says, discusses the opportunities for artists to establish permanent residence in a virtual landscape. We particularly appreciated his ideas about "Strategic Collapse". He says, "Cubism rejected the way of seeing, but the Futurists attempted to transcend the doctrines of capitalism, bourgeois individuality and utilitarism." He connects his point to Malevich, who said: "Cubism and Futurism were the revolutionary forms in art, foreshadowing the revolution in political and economic life of 1917". What relevance do these comments have for 1997, Micronations and the economics of Cyberspace and what Sharon Zukin calls the "public liminal spaces"?

The Internet can be compared to the "public-private liminal spaces" of city centers, where commercial and culturally oriented activities are linked and layered. De facto, the Internet is a cultural hybrid with medium specific qualities, which are referring evidently to its pro-military roots. Net-space is not just a merger of distantly separated media. It also concerns itself with the circulating communication programs and processes it represents as an independent cultural form, which is characterized by a general convergence of data streams. Artistic Micronations, then, exist like Teepee communities inside great powerful organisms of data. These mini-economies however are not outlaw offspring, they precisely parallel the mechanics of government structures.

Aren`t the artistic Micronations simply affirmative to the official sets they mimic? What have they to offer to the artistic community which supports them? How differently they address politics, economics and phenomenology when compared to either traditional art or radical art practice?

The tools for the permanent process of recording, to make individuals operational, are already implemented in the protocols that are building-up the digital Net. Permanent monitoring is a Net-reality. Socio-techniques of scientific management are logical structures of Net-transfer-protocols. Empirical Taylorisme can be automatically prolonged. Recording systems are the basis of the Internet. Dataspace promises new virtual territories and redefined economic structures by their very existence. What we are witnessing throughout the Internet is a digital gold rush where corporations, nations and individuals are staking claims in mass profusion. The digital homesteads of artists verge on the brink between commercial and maverick mentality. They keep a data-space for the imagination to soar, for community structures to be tested, and for political consciousness to evolve and be redefined. (Margarete Jahrmann and Kathy Rae Huffman)