Untitled Document


Interview mit Miltos Manetas, Künstler der in Los Angeles und New York lebt.
Das Gespräch führte Jens Gebhart <>, Fotos von Katja Dell <> für

?:How did you started as an artist?

Miltos Manetas: I started with academic contemporary art, which is photography and videos but I was not very successful and I bored. So, on October 1995 I decided to stop with art. But I had four upcoming exhibitions-3 in Museums and a one-man show in a gallery so I had to do something for those shows. This is how I made my first oil painting and I repeat it four times and show it in all the exhibitions. It is a painting with 3 trees, two stong and one weak and curved. It is called "The Sad Tree". It was exposed in exhibitions such as Traffic by Nicolas Bourriaud where people worked with installations, attitudes and performances, artists such as Douglas Gordon, Vanessa Beecroft, Rikit Tiravanija, Dominique Gonzalez-Forster, Jason Rhoades, Cattelan etc. So I did those paintings just to make something different than the others before quit, but the public liked them, so I decide to do some more paintings, to see how far I could keep their attention. I didn't know what to paint though, so I started to paint computers because nobody had paint them yet.

?: What kind of relation do you have to your paintings? Do you like painting?

MM: Actually I hate painting myself, my assistent make a 70 % of the job. I never had any talent for painting but I was going to museums for years and look them carefully and dream that one day, maybe I would do one myself. After the Sad Tree, my intention was to paint only one painting: A monochrome painting, the laptop from the top, using only grey tones. I painted it many times but then it was getting boring and I started to paint some cables and then there it was: a kind of computer landcape, so human figures started to appear also.

?: So a painting is for you just an product to look like an artist?

MM: No, paintings are for me dreams. With the perspective of the romantical dream I can enjoy paintings.

?: One week ago you presented in a conference, NEEN as new word for art and technology. Was the conference a new form of artistic performance ?

MM: No, I would call it demo. It was not an art work for me. I wanted to stimulate the world. I saw that a lot of people are doing things with the computer and in the Internet but there is no name for it.

?: What was the reaction on the demo?

MM: I think the people use NEEN.

?: Why did you present this world in a artistic context, with a whole team of experts?

MM: We made that presentation, not for any artistic reasons, but for hype. It was a big presentation with experts such as Peter Lunefeld (Author of 'Snap to the Grid'), JC Herz (Author of the Joystick Nation), Joseph Kosuth
(Artist), Steven Pinker (Professor of Psychology) and David Placek (President of Lexicon Branding).

?: So it was a kind of a game?

MM: No it was not a contemporary art game . It was all serious : a Demo of a new name. These days a lot of people are doing interesting art, the British, the French, the Americans, they are all good artists and we are all
the same kind of people, there is nothing that separate us, so what is art? It's just an academic exercise. But now, there exist a new visual category: certain designers, certain videogames makers, some web designers and also some programers: these are the new Elit that makes very imaginative and strong work, better from what you see in galleries and museums. They are not "artists", not all their production is artistic. They can do some nice software and in the same time they do some horrible drawings. So they are different to contemporary artists that are all correct and professional. My idea was to invent a new name, for this new category of people and if
possible open the art society to them.

?: So we have to say that a software programmer is also an artist, like Beuys said that everybody is an artist?

MM: NEEN is a connection. Such as Surrealism that opened the field and created a new type of person.

?: Is NEEN connected to technology?

MM: Yes of course quite a lot. Because our time is much related with technology. But again NEEN is not just about technoloy, in the same way that Surrealism is not just Fantasy Communism is not exactly Freedom. Technology happens to be the actual metaphor.

?: I have the impression that the new media art world in America (, is quite critical with your proposial?

MM:I respect the pioneers of the Internet. But I specially like the dandies that will arrive a little after the pioneers and start to use and shape the country. No reason to do any hard job. Neen stands for elegance: it's the opposite of Cyberspace and culture of experimental rust. If there is something I really like in art is its easyness.

?: On your website I could read, 'Manetas System 2' for what does it stands for?

MM: That's my web-designer who did it. I like that. He called the website Manetas System 2 and so I kept it . I suppose what he means is that I'm the System 1 and the webpage is the System 2. My website is conceived
like a plattform where people and concepts are presented ...

?: What is the relation between the internet work and your paintings?

MM: What a painter does first is built up a landscape and then apply sense on it. Monet does it with some Flowers, Cezanne with a mountain, I use cables etc. A painting is protable like a laptop and it's in some way also like a computer screen: it contains light.

?: So are you an painter or an computer artist?

MM: I am whatever my public wants me to be.

?: In your texts you mention often the world 'double reality' what do you mean with?

MM: I like the idea of miracles, that something impossible happens. Computers gives us in a successful manner the impression of miracles. Even when something goes wrong. For example, my NEEN presentation the other night at Gagosian, was all green because of a technical mistake, probably something binary. This "mistake" was a demonstration of multiple scenarios of reality. In another universe, the presentation was perfect so we have a
chance here to know exactly in which version of reality we participate: In our case not in a slightly "wrong" one.
But again, in the same night, I had to project the video of Joseph Kosuth's talkin a slow motion, because the person who recorded it, made a bad job. So we invented to slow it down at the end it come out very nice,better than
how it would had be if it was recorded correctly. So in this presentation two "technical" problems produced a "worst" and an "better" effects. It maybe interpreted as a comment of the machines when you tempt to name their
output : )

?: Are your paintings showing another reality?

MM: My paintings are dead,that's why I prefer them than other kinds of fashionable contemporary art. Something which is born dead is very interesting that something alive, destined to die. Contemporary art is alive for some years and then it expires. Conceptual art for example, expires as fast as you see it.

?: What are your new alive projects?

MM: The ChelseaWorld is probably one of my most interesting projects these days. But once again that's not art. It's an virtual online city which I created with an architect and some other people, the visitor can visit galleries, offices and museums . You can meet others online and built new architecture. You can see the other persons and speak with them. We called it Chelsea in relation to the New York Chelsea, which is the actual place for the art.

?: I heard about another project, a room in Los Angles called ElectronicOrphanage?

MM: Yes, I prepare an place where people will be hired to play video games and do Internet. You see, I don't have the time to play video games as much as I should. So, I'll hire people to do it and we can watch them. There will be large projections so you can see inside from the window.

?: Where is it in Los Angeles?

MM: It's in Chung King Road, in Chinatown which is the most exiting place for art in Los Angeles.