The Man From Neen

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Miltos Manetas


Miltos Manetas is a 43-year old Greek-born artist who works with flash media and websites, video games, and painting. Born in Athens in 1964, he began his career in "academic contemporary art" but diverged from that path in 1995, when he decided to "abandon performances, objects and site specific installations." He began painting (mostly still-lifes of digital hardware) and making videos from video games such as SuperMario and Tomb Raider. In 1996 he moved to New York and has since then lived and worked in several major cities, though he now resides in London. His work in the new millennium includes the founding of the NEEN art movement and the Electronic Orphanage, along with his own flash-animated websites.

(quotations taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manetas)

"Tell me briefly about your childhood and how you got to this point?

Boring environment, no [relationship to art]. Just decided in 1985, after I saw a Jackson Pollock book, to do art because it seemed easy. I left to go to Italy in 1986, came to New York in 1995. Started painting. Started work with video games -- to find art subjects -- in 1995. I was the first artist to paint a laptop and Lara Croft, according to The [London] Guardian. I made enough [of a] career, [was] bored, went to L.A., opened the Electronic Orphanage, started adventures, Neen, and here I am."

(excerpt from interview with Salon.com) 

Paintings


#23, CHRISTINE WITH PLAYSTATION, 1997
 

#51, ZIP DRIVE AND MY LEGS, 1998
 
Manetas has a long series of still-lifes like these - mingling wires and cables and hardware and the occasional human form.

 Eight Perfect Paintings - 1999

 
Six-foot wide canvasses, each entitled Untitled (Powerbook), all presented as an installation in a 1999 show.
 
"The atmospheric effects of Manetas's technique imply an indeterminate interior to his surfaces, hinting at the visual promise of an LCD screen and evoking an ominously crepuscular Rothko abstraction. But like Johns's flags, the proportions of Manetas's paintings are determined by their subject and are all wrong for a soaring Rothko. An elegant but vacant techno-power has superseded the expressionist's spiritual suffering. In a real sense, these "perfect" paintings owe their design not to the artist but to industrial designers at Apple Computer, Inc., who gave an expensive hightech look, suggestive of serious purpose and understated competence, to a product doomed to rapid obsolescence. I take the "perfect" in the title as referring more to grammar-as in "past perfect"-than to the attainment of an ideal. The spirit, if not the technique, is thus much closer to Johns's flags and their implications of expression deferred to the demands of a found object.
Two large figural paintings served as stylistic and conceptual brackets for the PowerBooks. Installed in a small back gallery, Untitled (Miltos with Computer) showed the artist seated at a workstation in a darkened room, his face illuminated by the glow from the monitor. A plastic water jug dominates the left half of the canvas, forcing a severely foreshortened perspective. Once again Manetas has laid down the paint with little descriptive fussiness, like an imitation of Edward Hopper's old-fashioned melancholy as interpreted through Alex Katz's alienanon. In the foyer of the gallery, Untitled (Girl with Book) offered an overhead view of a girl reading a paperback while a keyboard juts into view at the lower right and computer cables rest in loose tangles on a glass table near the top of the canvas. The dislocated perspective makes the classic genre image strange and a bit dizzy: Ordinary space is tilted by the aerial view, as in the "perfect" paintings, so that the horizontal plane in the paintings parallel s the gallery wall."

 (quotation by Michael Odom from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0268/is_7_38/ai_61029110)

The Internet Paintings (2002): 


On

 

Off
The Internet Paintings are currently owned by Charles Saatchi of the Saatchi Gallery.
 
 "It would be certainly a very foolish thing: try paint the Internet, start making oil-on-canvas paintings out of the computer world". - William S. Burroughs, "conversations", 1996

"Two Oil on Canvas paintings measuring 100x150 inches each. They combine two large canvases -one dark (as in Off) and the other bright (as in On), that represent painted collages of pages Manetas finds in the Internet. As these sites are always appearing, changing and disappearing the surface of the paintings also evolves. The "Internet Paintings" are infinite paintings; Manetas updates them regularly by adding any new websites he considers worthy of representation. A sentimental landscape of technology, an ever-changing biography of the internet and himself, the computer screen becomes a window for new and unexplored worlds: many of the websites represented in the paintings are there because they have changed the way we use the Internet, others are Internet artworks created by Manetas or his friends who use this medium as their studio and their place to exhibit their works. But most important, for Manetas these paintings have become a place to reflect on and recall different moments of his life."

(quotation from http://www.internetpaintings.com/)

Selection of Websites included in the paintings:
http://www.internetpaintings.comby Miltos Manetas
http://www.manetas.comby Miltos Manetas
http://www.neen.org<http://www.neen.org>
http://www.fataltotheflesh.comby Rafael Rozendaal
http://www.paranoidturnaround.comby Angelo Plessas
http://www.jacksonpollock.orgby Miltos Manetas
http://www.jesusswimming.comby Miltos Manetas
http://www.romanticus.comby Mai Ueda
http://www.biglongnow.comby Rafael Rozendaal  
http://www.shenevertoldherlove.comby Angelo Plessas
http://www.thisisneen.orgby Joel Fox
http://www.oneaftertheother.comby Angelo Plessas
http://www.angelidakis.comby Andreas Angelidakis
http://www.iamveryverysorry.comby Rafael Rozendaal
http://www.fourfortyfour.comby Miltos Manetas, animation Geoff Stearns
http://www.nosquito.bizby Rafael Rozendaal (turn up your volume)
http://www.elasticenthusiastic.comby Angelo Plessas
http://www.togetherness.orgby Mai Ueda
http://www.vaiavanti.comby Rafael Rozendaal
http://www.alldaydoingnothing.comby Angelo Plessas
http://www.whatremainsisfuture.comby Angelo Plessas
http://www.papertoilet.comby Rafael Rozendaal
http://www.neenis.comby Steven Schkolne
http://www.nakituminayashi.comby Nikola Tosic
http://www.bluewave building by Andreas Angelidakis
http://www.maninthedark.comby Aaron Clinger and Miltos Manetas
http://www.tryingsohard.netby Angelo Plessas
http://www.angleviner.comby Joel Fox
http://www.kosuth.comby Miltos Manetas
http://www.mspaintporn.netby Unknown
http://www.philosophyinthebedroom.comby Mai Ueda
http://www.educational-sticker.comby Nikola Tosic
http://www.schkolnenumber.comby Steven Schkolne
http://www.thoughtsofafishinthedeepsea.comby Angelo Plessas
http://www.everythingyouseeisinthepast.comby Rafael Rozendaal
http://www.futureisfake.comby Angelo Plessas
http://www.iwannabuysomeclothes.comby Mai Ueda
http://www.itsout.orgby Scott Snibbe  
http://www.melookingatyou.comby Angelo Plessas
http://www.oneaftertheother.comby Angelo Plessas

"Lionel Bovier: You said that, before this year, you could not contextualize your own work. How did it happen that you now seem able to do it?

Miltos Manetas: In a way, painting was the point I had to reach to be able to have a perspective on my work. In the process of oil painting on canvas, you apply layers of memory on a projection surface and you end up with a kind of window. David Robbins once said that "wall painting is a door and a painting on canvas a window" ."

(excerpt from http://manetas.com/txt/playstationtime.html)

 Videos After Videogames


MIRACLE, 1996


FLAMES, 1997


SUPERMARIO SLEEPING (outside), 1997

 King Kong After Peter Jackson, 2002

 "Miltos Manetas: For the video series Flames, 1997, which I made from the game Tomb Raider, I had the girl (Lara Croft) run into a cave with arrows coming from all around. She got hit with them until she fall dead on the snow, mourning a moving "ah". I had her run, repeatedly into a tape for ten minutes. Ten times she tried to cross the corridor,r but she always faltered and died. It fulfilled my wishes for a story about weakness, beauty, and tragedy. It was as if it was designed for me, waiting for me in the stores to buy it and use it. Moreover, it's technically made exactly like a real video because in the game you can decide how to move the girl, you can decide from which point of view you want to film her, etc.. So you are actually the real director of the game session. The only difference is that the actor is virtual and the sets, stage lighting, and so on, are ready-made from the game's programmer.

A second video is made from a flight simulator in which you are supposed to fly an airplane in the sky, but it runs endlessly on the water. The video is called "Miracle 1996," in memory of the famous Jesus miracle. I like Jesus miracles, which as Gerald Lynn said are very credible because they include such astonishing detail, that you end up believing them. Once, in a wedding (not a proper occasion for a miracle), Jesus transformed a whole river into wine...

...Yes, I like mistakes, bugs, and failure of computer's functions as much as their abilities and performances. "Miracle 1996" is an experience of the limits of a game situation and the sudden implosion of every competence.

Christophe Cherix: I played the game [Tomb Raider] yesterday and found very perverse that you continuously killed the girl in your video. The death you are showing is in fact the one of your own identification with the game. I wouldn't call it a failure, because this is inscribed in the main purposes of the game. Look at the delicate way in which the character is dying! What I would like to know is why you choose these specific sets (in a cave, with arrows or different cutting objects) and not others. And how would you interpret the suicidal way you purposely played?

Miltos Manetas: First, I like that confusion of identity. As a player, you are the girl character, but you are also the director of the video in which she is (or you are) acting. Then I choose specific sets that underline what I wanted to express. Moreover, when the character dies it is impossible for you to see the rest of the landscapes in the game, which are actually very beautiful.

With her death, understanding becomes impossible because what is in real life is movement and motion, is in the field of representation, comprehension. When motion stops, comprehension finito."

 
(excerpt of Miltos Manetas from http://manetas.com/txt/playstationtime.html)&nbsp;

Websites

Manetas has a series of flash-animation and other format websites which often involve degrees of interactivity. 


Jesusswimming.com, 2001


StupidForum.com, 2002


Jacksonpollock.org, 2003

"Miltos Manetas: For me, Jackson Pollock.org is my best artwork because I haven't done anything for it. I haven't made or created the piece; neither did I come up with the idea.

...I found this flash animation by stamen.com. You would move the mouse and it was just a dripping. You couldn't change the colour.

So I contacted them and said: you decide. I can buy the script from you, or I put you as authors of the work. And they ignored me. So I took it myself, gave it to a programmer, changed it a little but made it multicoloured, put it on a website jacksonpollock.org*, gave them the credit, of course. Because what is the artwork? The artwork is not the animation. The artwork is the idea of putting the ghost of Jackson Pollock online.* The animation, I always said, is the work of these people. Then these people start writing to me: ah, you stole our work. I said, no, I never took your work. I put your work in another context; that's what we do in the arts. I said, do you want to sell me the work? They said no. We want to make it public, so anybody can do it. We'll put it in the public domain so anybody can use our script - only if it's commercial do you have to pay a fee.

So that's how I made this Jackson Pollock. My work is that. What I'm selling is not the animation but the website. So collectors buy Jacksonpollock.org, which is my work.

Artreview.com:*But it's still public. *So why would someone want to own that when you can just go to the website anyway?

MM:Because that's what museums do. My signature, my piece, my artwork. Like a Cindy Sherman photo - anyone can have it, anyone can reproduce it, but still you want to own it.

*.com:*No, that's different. I couldn't make my own Cindy Sherman because I don't have a file big enough. I could scan something from a book but it would never be as good as having something from the master.

MM:*But there are so many works that you can reproduce perfectly. Helmut Newton sells a book by Taschen, big like this with these photographs. You could reproduce this exactly. *What you buy with an artwork is the signature, the authorization I give you to own this thing. The website is completely unique. Only jacksonpollock.org can exist. .net is not the same.

*.com:*You can't buy an edition of it.

MM:*You can't do an edition, which makes it nice. Also I have my signature in it. So, if you buy it, it's unique. *I incorporate my signature in all my web pieces. So one of my ideas with Neen was to create a new type of art also in terms of sales. One type of object is a website. I made another version of jacksonpollock.org: ipollock.org. I have so many collectors who want to buy but they don't want to pay the money I'm asking for, because I charge the same as for my paintings.

Jackson Pollock invented a technique himself. He invented a machine so that anybody can make a beautiful piece of art. I've seen many Jackson Pollocks in my life by students; I have also made some myself. Anybody can make a fantastic Jackson Pollock.

If you follow the structures, you make a Jackson Pollock. I thought, this is a really great art. The art is not the technical thing: you overpass this. That's what I think about Neen: it's where the technique totally dissolves.

The art comes to you. That's like utopia. So for me it was my best moment. The idea that I haven't done anything, but it's mine somehow.

*.com:*In a Duchampian sense.

*MM:*Yes, but it's even beyond Duchamp in that the ready-made is coming to you. The work comes to you because you are the one that is thinking this way.

*.com:*In a way, you've applied a Duchampian ethos to Jackson Pollock, who didn't think that way at all. He would despise this idea.

*MM:*Yeah, also because when you google his name now, the first thing that comes up is me."

(excerpted from http://www.artreview.com/profiles/blog/show?id=1474022%3ABlogPost%3A60846)

 
ManIntheDark.com, 2004


ThankYouAndyWarhol.com, 2007

"Websites are today's most radical and important art objects. Because the Internet is not just another "media", as the Old Media insists, but mostly a "space", similar to the American Continent immediately after it was discovered - anything that can be found on the Web has a physical presence. It occupies real estate. To encounter a logo, a picture or an animation in the Internet is a totally different experience than to find the same stuff in a magazine or on the television. "Things" in the Internet exist in a specific location, while in magazines and on TV contents are mostly bullets of information. Online they constitute a body: they are parts of a new genre. They are Web Entities.

...But after 80 years of different combinations for any kinds of objects inside the hopelessly empty spaces of our art institutions, nothing seems really interesting. We see clearly now, that the supposed "art" is simply a bunch of trash, just some products bought in a mall. Outside of the Internet there's no glory. Non-Internet artists are freelance employees of other employees (the curators of the exhibitions). Institutions bestow curators with confidence and power. They are not supposed to look for any unseen objects but for some evidence of human expression which they will bring back to their commissioners, the way a well-trained dog would do with its ball. Exhibitions are identity-control tests. They are not creating anything new, they are just sampling stories.

...The Art World is relaxed and open to anything just because it knows that nothing peculiar will ever happen. Even if the gallery is left empty, the public will search for the label with the name of the artist who did the "work" and they will find satisfaction in one way or another. Beds, balloons and chickens:real Space has lost its emptiness. But on the Internet, where space is created by software and random imagination, an empty webpage is really empty. People and Web Entities ("Angels") can still invent unpredictable objects to put there."

(excerpt from Manetas' essay Websites Are The Art Of Our Times)

"I don't understand how people can not do websites. I just finished a big photograph wich cost a fortune and is very heavy and impossable to move around, so it hangs in a space for noone to see. {*}The real world is like everything is drowned in tar and maple syrup compared to the web. The web is nice and fast and clean. Also, because everything on the web must be small, people make nice short art, they are forced to bring clarity and lightness. It's the opposite of video art which is long and heavy and dark. So I fear the days when connections are so fast that every­one wil make epic websites with heavy programming and studio quality dvd footage which will bring us nowhere.*"

(quotation from an e-mail from Rafael <rafaelrozendaal@hotmail.com> to Miltos Manetas, featured in Manetas' Book: Selected emails)

NEEN vs. TELIC

"NEEN" is the word for a new art movement related to the internet age. It is a sort of Dada for the new millennium, though its specific meaning and the work that it delineates is not entirely clear, and even Manetas himself gives contradictory accounts of its signification.

"TELIC" is the word for art and things that pertain to the internet age but fall short of the greatness of Neen (according to Manetas) because it is bent toward a specific purpose or goal, unlike Neen which is aimless.

Manetas' desire to found a new movement is born out of his impatience with contemporary art, which he feels is slipping into irrelevancy in an ever-changing world. 

"Societies don't disappear easily; people use to defend their style and their way of life. The Surrealists still give a lot of importance to Imagination; Expressionists still drink a lot etc. Most of these artists try their best and a few of them are unusual and charismatic individuals. But their efforts are meaningless because "Art"- a Dancing Queen in Life's nightclub is bored by them and she moved to other tables already. When Art abandons a group of people she takes her gifts back. Radicalism, the spirit of invention, any fresh beauty and sensuality dries out. What remains is only fatigue because for last, Art takes away the specter of Power and Authority and gives to some people: a bunch of new "artists" who nobody had even noticed! These New People, these barbarians become the new Art Stars. Ninety years after Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, it's time for a change again. There is a new planet -the Internet- and we already live in it, there are Videogames that are changing the way we touch the World but still, while the psychological space of the computer screen is ever-expanding, Contemporary Art doesn't care.

...And of course we still test "Art" with the ritual of the "Exhibition": everyone is evaluated according to his/her ability of delivering shows. Contemporary Art has become the "Art of Exhibition". In this sense, being an Artist is now an academic career, as well as a respected University Professor is expected to produce a number of papers; a respected Contemporary Artist must fill regularly the large empty spaces of the Art Galleries and Museums. Installation Gurus and Surprise Artists, Social Agitators, and Biennial Fighters, Nouveaux-Pops, or just plain Painters and Photographers who know how to entertain with their carefully planned exhibitions, the clan of these artists, together with their curators, collectors and dealers, is the Clan of Contemporary Art. It is powerful and exclusive, filled with cool young people. Few in this clan have the time or the frame of mind to experiment with the Internet and videogames. Well, it's a pity for them because they will be left behind once Art is done with them. They will still have their galleries their Museums and collectors but it will hardly matter at that point. They will seam old, irrelevant, in terms of evolution; they will be left "a step behind"."

(excerpt from Manetas' essay New People

"[Manetas] was impatient with critics and curators who had yet to come up with a really good "-ism" for this new generation of creativity.

After securing financial assistance from a nonprofit called the Art Production Fund, Manetas went out and hired Lexicon Branding, a California firm responsible for creating such product names as Powerbook, Pentium, Zima, Swiffer and Dasani. Lexicon's assignment was to create a name for this new movement.

The word Manetas wanted was "not exclusively about technology in art, but more about the style, about the psychological landscape," he has explained. "We have two kind of lives now -- a real life and a simulated one. I wanted to give a name to this psychology."

In May 2000, during a packed press conference at the Gagosian Gallery in Manhattan -- and a panel of people like Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker ready to provide (tongue-in-cheek) analysis of the term -- Manetas unveiled the new word. Actually, it was the squeaky, synthetic voice of a Sony Vaio that made the announcement.

The word was "Neen."

In his subsequent Neen Manifesto,Manetas declared that the term represented "a still undefined generation of visual artists. Some of them may belong to the contemporary art world; others are software creators, web designers and video game directors or animators." He later added: "The identity of a NEENSTER is his state of mind. Because he will publish everything on the web, his state of mind reflects on the public taste. NEENSTERS are public personas

Miltos Manetas: Here's some background: Almost two years ago, we commissioned from Lexicon Branding a new word which was supposed to define any artistic experience relative to the computer screen. In fact, they proposed [to] us "Telic," a very convincing and sophisticated term invented by the human staff of the company. But we decided to acquire, and introduce, a name which their machines coined. This was "Neen," a palindrome created by a computer program after they [fed] it with words such as "screen" and let it run the different combinations. Neen, which by coincidence in old Greek means "exactly now, not a second later," was a controversial name. Only a few people felt that it was proper to call themselves Neensters and [call] what they do Neen, and this was because most of us, myself included unfortunately, are still doing a lot of Telic.

...Telic is [related to] the tools which help us design the world and see things in a perspective. Telic is constructive: Anything related with a job is Telic. People [who] are busy with aesthetics, but who also have jobs and clients, are Telic. But sometimes these Telics produce very important Neen. It's usually a small detail which they hide inside the nightmare of their job. Telic is serious: It makes sense or it's a "sense wannabe." People recognize it easily and trust it.

...Neen, instead, is Telic that went nuts: You wouldn't believe that it's possible and even [those] who [make] it cannot easily repeat it. But Neen looks great. There are a few 100 percent Neensters, people without a specific profession who linger around us. Telic is Giacometti, Neen is Fontana. Nature is Telic and miracles are Neen. [But] miracles which have a purpose become Telic.

...Neen is Telic that went wrong. Unpredictable Telic. A thing you cannot decide if it's worth it or not but it impresses you anyway and you cannot live without it. [Here's an] egomaniac who made a round Explorer window and put himself in the center of the net-world. Boyinstatic.com has a gold frame. It's a Neen color when you see it on the Web. Biribiri.com is a computer which says "Whoops" like somebody who gets surprised. The screen blinks. This is the guy who designed whitneybiennial.com. [He's] 21 years old: a Neenster. Also: lonliness.org, lostpixel.com, magicrobot.org, maiueda.com, mikecalvert.org, whitetrash.nl and uncontrol. Thisis looking in real time directly inside the public subconscious. A window. It's the most cool public project I have ever seen. They should install it permanently in Times Square!

...[Telic is] intellectual and aesthetic stuff related with the computer screen. The best of those. Serious and focused. Professional. These people -- gratisdesign.com, jetset.nl, futurefarmers.com, ourmachine.com-- are doing great stuff, but they have a profession and their things seem destined to respond to a demand. This ruins the Neen in them and lets Telic prevail. Also, some of them are using a lot of references of '70s design and déjà-vu: That's Telic. Golan Levin [does] music and Neen [which equals] Telic. But he is one of the best artists around anyway. We love his Telic! Turux.org could be Neen, maybe they are. But they look somehow Telic."

(excerpts from Interview with Salon.com)

""Contemporary Art", the Art of the Past Century, was based mostly on the following principle: "if you put something in an empty room, it seems strange and significant". A variation of that was: "if you take something out of its context, it seems strange and significant". Another was: "if you change the scale of something, it will seem strange and significant," and a last one: "if you multiply something, it also becomes strange and significant".

Telic means "something directed or tending towards a goal or purpose; purposeful". For example "I am driving my car to Los Angeles" is a Telic statement. "I am driving my car" is not. Telos, in Greek, means "the end" or "the purpose". Telic firmly believes that it is Telic. (You may never arrive to Los Angeles; you may crash into a tree or something). Telic is super creative, often in a paranoid way. It is serious. It wants to explain every little detail. It will submit footnotes and references. It is "open source" and it accepts updates from anyone. Telic doesn't have a taste; it can be as ugly as an IBM computer. Telic authors and artists usually have jobs in the tech industry or are teachers in Universities.

They survive thanks to the grants that other Telic people are managing and they avoid the Art World, which in return ignores them. But Telic shapes the World. As J.G. Ballard wrote, "Science and technology multiply around us. To an increasing extend they dictate the languages in which we speak and think. Either we use those languages or we remain mute". Telic is making sense from these languages. But then again, do we really want to make sense? Why shall we be so domesticated and so productive? You wish for there to be a secret society; some people who know how to give you the feelings directly and who will keep you thinking, even after you quit browsing. You wish there were some websites to offer you the metaphysical suspense of a painting. You wish for Neen.

...A person who thinks about Neen is a Neenster, while one who actually does Neen is a Neenstar. What a Neenstar does may sometimes seem silly, but only because it is easy and amazing.

A Neenstar is not trying to make sense; he/she doesn't suffer from any stress of production and doesn't respect a pattern. The dream of a Neenstar is to become an Icon but a special one, not the type of Icon you usually find in the glossies and in the Art Magazines. A Neenstar starts his career by becoming the Icon of his own imagination. Then he projects that Icon to the outside as if it were fact. Identity is not a priority for a Neenstar, but one will fetishise oneself anyway and use that as a style: it's a fast way to produce content. But in contrast with contemporary artists, a Neenstar will change identities often, according to the situations: Neen is ultimately a state of mind. People such as Lucio Fontana, who were doing painting by simply slashing a canvas, were Neen before Neen."

(excerpt from Manetas' essay "Websites Are The Art Of Our Times")

 The website of the Neen movement may be found here, and in its directory is a page dedicated to the Neenstars.

Other Projects

whitneybiennial.com

In 2002, Manetas created the website whitneybiennial.com (as opposed to whitneybiennial.org, the official website of the Whitney Biennial). The website is a virtual art gallery that contains many pieces by various Neenstars. To garner attention for the website, Manetas declared that he would drive 23 U-Hauls with flash animations on their sides around the Whitney Museum on the night of the Biennial gala. The U-Hauls never materialized, or rather Manetas calls them "invisible" U-Hauls. Their idea was but a ploy to direct attention to his website.

"What's the matter with the Biennial? People love to complain about it. But there's a lot of digital and new media work in it, some of which must be Telic or Neen. Isn't it any good?

I love the Whitney Biennial: They always have great works there. They are family. I am not against them. I just want to use them.

Use them for what?

For propaganda ... free [access to the] public. We have to learn to use institutions in an alternative way. It's not fun anymore to do things with them. Of course we will keep doing [something] because they give us money. But every time they do something, [we should] try to open them to unknown factors. Deviate their intentions. We don't only live anymore in the "Society of the Spectacle," we are spectacle.

So it's fair to say this is about getting attention?

Of course it is for attention! Why else [would] a person like me set up a show? I am not a curator ... But I also want to see a beautiful experiment happen and give a reason to my friends to do beautiful stuff."

(excerpt from Interview with Salon.com)

 
Electronic Orphanage

 
In 2001, Manetas founded the Electronic Orphanage in Los Angeles. It is, essentially, a studio space for Neensters and Neenstars to congregate and play with the internet and videogames. If they are so inclined, they may produce work. The space is located in a section of Chinatown filled with art galleries, and the EO projects Neen material from the internet on its front window for the sake of passing spectators.
 
"Many different organizations are supporting young people on their quest to creativity. The ElectronicOrphanage is not one of those.

Entirely indifferent to generic creativity, the ElectronicOrphanage, is a nonprofit organization founded by Miltos Manetas, which hires people to do nothing other than look at computers and the Internet. They can also play videogames if they wish or do anything that is related with the most advanced technological toys that the ElectronicOrphanage provides.

They can exchange this information between themselves but if they decide to actually make something then they take a risk. If their "work" is not surprising and fresh they will lose their "job".

If instead what they do is amazing then they are encouraged to continue and they are given further opportunities. The ElectronicOrphanage aims to sponsor the creation of websites which may be or may become the art of our days.

1.Q: Who decides what is indeed amazing?
A: There is a group of people, the Neenstars who decide. They are themselves participants of the ElectronicOrphanage and they are writers, theoreticians, artists, fashion designers, designers and music composers. They are working in different directions but within a similar fashion. The are described in the Neen Manifesto and in all other texts and websites about Neen.

2. Q: Is the ElectronicOrphanage an exhibition space?
A: Think of the ElectronicOrphanage in Los Angeles as a public space transformed into a computer screen. It is located on a pedestrian road where many galleries are also located and there is a large public who visits whenever the galleries are having openings. During those days the EO is turned "ON". A piece - usually an animation - is shown in the form of a projection. The public audience cannot go inside the space. They have to watch our exhibition through the window from the street. The piece is not proposed or explained as Contemporary Art but it exists as something that may became "Art" at some later date.

3. Q: Is the ElectronicOrphanage in Los Angeles the only location of the EO?
A: We envision the creation of EOs in many other places. At this time we are working towards the opening of an EO in Vancouver Canada, Goa India and Shanghai China.

4. Q: How do I become a participant in the ElectronicOrphanage?
A: People can contact us via the Internet. We are also contacting people whose reputations - as possibly interesting creatures - we have been made aware of."

(excerpt from EO's Mission and Purpose)

"Until today, there is not any great way to show digital art. In galleries and museums it seems pathetic, and on the Internet it does not affect the majority of the public, which doesn't know how to click well yet. I decided to create the [least] worse [thing], a physical space where people can spy over the shoulders of the creators and get an idea [of it]. It's on a road which hosts many art galleries, so there is a public which is looking for amazing visual stuff available already -- you don't have to invite the people. It's like installing a Web site in the actual city."

(excerpt from Interview with Salon.com)

"It's more like a club for screen safaris and for theories. I didn't want to open a gallery myself, but the public was there anyway, and we could have visitors without sending invitations, because of other openings. We open it whenever there are gallery openings around and we project a NEEN piece which we either discover on the Internet or get from artists we run across. The space is an empty storefront, basically a black cube with a white wall that serves for the screenings. Visitors watch projections from the street. The doors are open, but for the most part, the public is not allowed inside. There is a sofa in the street where they can sit to watch the screening. Nobody explains anything to them. Visitors have to go on EO's Website to obtain further information. Those visitors who are invited in become "orphans" once they're inside. I arrange for some of them to go to other countries on the Internet, and to be orphans there for a while. Some return for other visits. Some send other visitors. All activities can been seen on-line at electronicorphanage.com. The rest of the time, the EO becomes a studio/office for different NEENsters. I provide the computers etc. and they take Internet safaris, play videogames, talk, build Websites, etc."

(excerpt from A Neen Paradise in Purple #11, 2002) 

Orphans include Norman Klein, Lev Manovich, Peter Lunenfeld, and the NEENstars on the NEENstar website.

iamgonnacopy.com
 
In 2001, Manetas created a website dedicated to the proposition that "everything that you can copy is for free. no copyright, no intellectual property." Selected guests can cast their vote on the website to indicate if they believe that copyright and intellectual property laws should exist.
 
"Copyright and intellectual property are some of the most urgent social [issues]. People don't realize it but we live now in a time where images and ideas are replacing nature: We should be able to move freely inside this nature, and the main reason is that a part of it is inside ourselves. We are made up of logos and pictures, books and music. The images of paintings, once published, belong to everybody and the same is true for the songs by Beatles or the Coca-Cola logo. If I have a dream which is a collage of all that, I should have the right to do whatever I want with them.
 
...I believe that copyright and intellectual property are really black and white issues. It's like slavery: Either you consider that all people should be born free, or you want some of them under the control of others. Information is like people: It has its own life, separated by its creator. Nobody should own his/her information, at least after he/she made it public and therefore he/she exchanged it with fame and other bonuses."
 
(excerpt from Interview at Salon.com) 
 

Selected E-mails, 2003
 
In 2003, onestar press produced a book by Manetas. In it is stated:
 
"How private is our e-mail life? Traveling from server to server, it all ends in a hard drive, actually, its scattered in hard drives all around the World: a large body of work we helped produced. But how much of it is interesting and why? The day onestarpress approached me, asking my final decision about a book with them, I simply looked at my Outlook application which is always sitting open at the top of my screen and told them that it will be a book of Selected Emails. It was not myself who choose these emails, Panos Tsagaris (panox.us) select them, a young friend visiting from Canada who knew nothing about my personal life (yet). The material of this volume, is what he found memorable. The design of the book, is made by Angelo Plessas. (www.angeloplessas.com)
Miltos Manetas, July 2003"
 
One such e-mail from the book (addressed to Lev Manovich) reads:
 
"Lev, you are back ?
I am in NY.
Cold but nice. I am in a strange mood. Taking Zoloft again. Miltos-Mai:is over . Changes.
Psycoanalysis is changing me . Or at least that's what I imagine.
Will you come here anytime soon?
I am very broken : I try to collect some $ .
Working on a plan for a Neen book.
Will you partecipate at the EO CLUB ?"

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