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v3.5 | 22 12 01
Open Letter to the Austrian Public

Open Letter to the Austrian Public
September 2000


::Right Wing Government Targets Public Netbase

The individuals, initiatives, and organizations listed below hereby demand that Public Netbase, the Viennese Center for New Media, should neither be forcibly closed, nor should it be moved from its current location in the Museumsquartier. We urge the Austrian government to acknowledge Public Netbase as a pioneer in the field of new media arts and culture by enabling the organization to continue its work in the Museumsquartier.

Since its opening in 1994, Public Netbase has played an instrumental role in shaping the rapidly changing landscape of electronic culture. Under the dedicated guidance of Konrad Becker and Marie Ringler, Public Netbase has contributed both to local media culture in Vienna and to new media culture in larger European and global contexts. In addition, Public Netbase offers a unique mix of community services, including technical training, public Internet access, and a sophisticated artistic program; it also produces exhibitions, organizes conferences, provides essential resources to several communities, and helps advance the culture of new media technologies by significantly contributing to the development of theoretical and practical models. Continuing to integrate these initiatives into the cultural context of the Museumsquartier would contribute tremendously to the type of cultural context and competence that will allow Austria to proceed through this new century in a manner in keeping with its rich cultural heritage.

Unfortunately, since the change in government, Public Netbase has become the target of unreasonable accusations, hidden machinations, and unwarranted attacks. The withdrawal of all federal funding, the government's effort to stop support on the regional level, and the unsuccessful but extensive investigation into alleged financial misappropriations, are clearly being enacted as a means of silencing critical voices in Austrian civil society. We find this situation to be not only shocking but also deeply distressing, considering the contributions Public Netbase has made to the local community and to the field of new media arts.

We insist that the Austrian government reconsider and clarify its cultural policy regarding Public Netbase and acknowledge its achievements. Public Netbase should be supported for the unique cultural environment it creates, and for its history of support for experimental and emerging artistic practices. Not only should Public Netbase be given consistent support, but so should those individuals and organizations participating in the impressive variety of other Austrian independent and experimental media projects that have come into being over the last decade. These projects have demonstrated that media art and network practices have a distinguished history and that they attempt to reflect the creative diversity and a broad range of critical discourse of crucial importance to the emergence of global culture. Too often, electronic time-based media has been inappropriately described as marginal, fragmented, or outside the cultural debates about creativity in the current art scene. Nothing could be further from the truth, and this is why an organization like Public Netbase has been a staunch promoter of this rich new media culture. As such, it is the responsibility and duty of the Austrian government, as the custodians of public culture, to reinstate funding for Public Netbase and facilitate their continued presence in the Museumsquartier. Anything less would be a disservice to the public and to the cultural legacy of Europe.

Alex Adriansen, Director V2, Rotterdam/Netherlands
Eric Alliez, Professeur titulaire de la Chaire d'Esthetique à l'Académie des Arts plastiques, Vienne/Austria
Eddie Berg, FACT, UK
Kristin Bergaust, Artist and Director of Media-Lab Atelier Nord, Norway
Andreas Broeckmann, Artistic Director transmediale, Berlin/Germany
Antonella Corsani, enseignant-chercheur Université de Paris/France
Critical Art Ensemble, Artist Group, USA
Amanda Crowley, Adelaide Festival of Arts, Australia
Erik Davis, Author and Contributing Editor, Wired Magazine, San Francisco/USA
Manuel DeLanda, Fellow at Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey/USA
Mark Dery, Author, Editor of Artbyte, New York/USA
Sara Diamond, The Banff Center, Canada
Julian Dibbell, Author, Contributing Editor at FEED Magazine, South Bend/US
Sher Doruff, Society for Old and New Media, Amsterdam/Netherlands
Timothy Duckrey, Author and Lecturer, USA
Silvia Eiblmayr, Galerie im Taxis Palais Innsbruck/Austria
Adele Eisenstein, C3 Center for Culture & Communication, Budapest/Hungary
Andrea Ellmeier, Kulturdokumentation, Vienna/Austria
Valie Export, Artist, Vienna/Austria and Academy of Media Arts Köln/Germany
Bronac Ferran, Arts Council, UK
Jim Fleming, Editor & Publisher, Autonomedia, New York/USA
Vera Frenkel, Ontario/Canada
Tomas Friedmann, Literaturhaus Salzburg, Austria
Martin Fritz, Curator EXPO 2000 (In Between), Hannover/Germany
Matthew Fuller, Lecturer in Media, Communications and Culture at Middlesex University, working with the artists' collective Mongrel, UK
Alex Galloway,, New York/USA
Gabriele Gerbasits, IG Kultur Österreich, Vienna/Austria
Lizbeth Goodman, Director of The Institute for New Media, Performance Research School of Performing Arts - University of Surrey/UK
Franz Graf, Professor Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna/Austria
Reinhold Grether, Dr, Netscientist University Konstanz/Germany
Henning Gruner, Kunsthaus Tacheles/Berlin
Cees J. Hamelink, Professor of International Communication, University of Amsterdam/Netherlands
Michael Haneke, Regisseur, Austria
Honor Harger, Tate Modern, London/UK
Lisa Haskel, Media Art Projects, UK
Perry Hoberman, Artist, teaches at the School of Visual Arts, New York/USA
Danny Holman, No D Media Lab, Prague/Czech Republic
John Hopkins, Media Lab - University of Art and Design, Helsinki/Finland
Erkki Huhtamo, Professor UCLA, Dept. of Design, Finland
Elfriede Jelinek, Schriftstellerin, Wien/Austria
Michael Joyce, Writer and Professor of Electronic Literature, New York/USA
Eric Kluitenberg, Media Theorist and Curator New Media, de Balie - Center for Culture and Politics, Amsterdam/Netherlands
Knowbotic Research, Artist Group, Germany
Piotr Krajewska, WRO Center for Media Art, Wroclaw/Poland
Arthur and Marilouise Kroker, Editors CTHEORY, Boston, Massachusetts/USA
Spela Kucan, Ljudmila - Ljubljana Digital Media Lab, Slovenia
Violetta Kutlubasis-Krajewska, WRO Center for Media Art, Wroclaw/Poland
Herbert Lachmayer, Leiter der Meisterklasse für Experimentelle Visuelle Gestaltung, Universität für künstlerische und industrielle Gestaltung, Linz/Austria
Jacques Le Rider, Ecole pratique des Hautes Etudes, Section des sciences historiques et philologiques, Sorbonne, Paris/France
Geert Lovink, Media Theorist, Canberra/Australia
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Art and Technology Foundation, Madrid/Spain
Tapio Makela, M-cult, Finland
Gerald Matt, Kunsthalle Wien, Austria
Armin Medosch, Telepolis, London/UK
Wolfgang Modera, Ars Electronica Center, Linz/Austria
Sally Jane Norman, Directrice Générale de l'Ecole supérieure de l'image, Angoulême, Poitiers/France
Robert Palmer, Director Brussels2000, Belgium
Sylvie Parent, Curator, Centre international d'art contemporain, Montréal/Canada
Ana Parga, Art and Technology Foundation, Madrid/Spain
Marko Peljhan, Project Atol, Ljubljana/Slovenia
Constance Penley, Professor and Chair Department of Film Studies, University of California, USA
Miklos Peternak, Director C3 Center for Culture & Communication, Budapest/Hungary
Otto Pfersmann, Professor for Philosophy, Sorbonne/Paris
Sadie Plant, Writer, Birmingham/UK
Doron Rabinovici, Writer, Austria
Susie Ramsay, Art and Technology Foundation, Madrid/Spain
Veronika Ratzenböck, Director Kulturdokumentation, Vienna/Austria
Christian Reder, Professor University for Applied Arts, Vienna/Austria
Martin Reiter, Kunsthaus Tacheles/Berlin
RTMark, Artist Group, USA
Gerhard Ruiss, IG Autorinnen Autoren, Austria
Giaco Schiesser, Head Department New Media, University of Art and Design, Zurich/Switzerland
Annette Schindler, Director Plug In, Basel/Switzerland
Burghart Schmidt, Professor for Aesthetics, University Offenbach, Germany
Christine Schöpf, Ars Electronica Center, Linz/Austria
Dieter Schrage, Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna/Austria
Yukiko Shikata, Curator, Japan
Rasa Smite, E-LAB Electronic Arts and Media Center, Riga/Latvia
Raitis Smits, RIXC The Center for New Media Culture, Riga/Latvia
Stahl Stenslie, Artist and Curator, Oslo/Norway
Marleen Stikker, Society for Old and New Media, Amsterdam/Netherlands
Gerfried Stocker, Ars Electronica Center, Linz/Austria
Martin Sturm, O.K Centrum für Gegenwartskunst, Linz/Austria
Janos Sugar, Media Research Foundation, Budapest/Hungary
Daniela Swarowsky, Manager of DEAF_2000 Festival / V2_Organisation, Rotterdam/Netherlands
Peter Tomaz, President Association for Culture and Education, Multimedia Center KiberSRCeLab - KIBLA, Maribor/Slovenia
Toshiya Ueno, Associate Professor, Sociologist, Tokyo/Japan
Markus Wailand, Artist and Curator, Vienna/Austria
Ulrich Wegenast, Wand 5/Stuttgarter Filmwinter, Germany
Dirk de Wit, Brussels2000, Belgium
Siegfried Zielinski, Establishment Rector Academy of Media Arts, Köln/Germany
Heimo Zobernig, Artist, Vienna/Austria

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