March 16, 1998
Dear Dr. Mann,
I believe only the Gift Shop section of LVAM remains online with HotelCasinoMedia.Com. Nothing else displays when I checked several different Internet search engines. The binded material you gave me, including "Art after Post-Modernism" is gone. I am very curious just what happened between LVAM and what was the arrangement with the museum's gift shop which now looks in disarray. I was able to download and save all gift shop information and await instructions as to what to do with it if anything. It's not very impressive as a layout with no descriptive information about the museum. Good technical expertise obvious but very bad text support does not do justice to the museum. I would request that it also be removed (after I get further into the project). I need to talk with you about what the approach for your site was with these people, how much of the mission of your institution was intended to be presented on your Web site. You have me, an artist, now on the task and should fine better results instead of turning over the job to Internet techies who can really mess up the results. I know from experience.
The disk from your laptop is fine. I can only access the .txt files (5 articles). At this time I need a calendar of shows for these files and instructions on whether you want to place all 5 articles online. Some obviously are past shows but when were the dates? Do you want these 5 reviewed exhibits to be the only online show coveraged at your site for now as a start? How about upcoming exhibits to be announced?
I have spent around 40 hours thus far on your site, 4 hours doing lst draft page set ups on my hard drive. I am now at a point where we need to clarify just what you want and what I can offer you.
I did come back to the museum with Vivian Woods to assist R2001 grow as an international art phenom. Naturally I too would benefit as a fellow member but please understand personal gain was not the intent of the visit. LVAM through your Fellow gave me my first American museum solo and I am for life grateful and indebted. I was pleasantly surprised to find the same hospitality and open door policy to new ideas in art and receptivity for the museum's participation.
I "volunteered" without hesitation to do your Web site since it seemed you need the help and accelerated progress in this aspect of the museum's development into a major arts institution. Of course all that both parties could comprehend at that moment in your office was my technical assistance and time to put together a conventional information and promotional Web presence for the museum. And, with free labor (the charge for Web publishing services in Honolulu is $100-150/hour), my equipment and advise on server, computer platforms, ISPs, etc- all personal choices from personal research and trial and error in the field.
Fine. But after starting the admittedly boring task of making such a conventional site and reading your manifesto on "Art after Post-Modernism" and "Vision for Las Vegas" I got daringly inspired to go beyond just a routine Web site. You could pay for such a service and get the same results; I just happen to be free and available.
You need to know what you have in me as a resource before you read the proposed plan of attack for your Web site. First, I am not just a "computer artist" but now an experimental conceptualist Web artist ("cyberartist"). Your paper on "Art after Post-Modernism" made me realize just what my quite successful personal Web site is - a site specific, art installation on the Internet, in Cyberspace, the new art frontier. I have devoted 2 years, 9 and 1/2 months online, to creating NOT just another of the thousands of artists' homepages, predictably structured to display a portfolio of works and artist's biography, but an innovative real attempt to recreate the museum visiting experience online in a virtual museum, using all the tricks in the book including sound, animation and vrml reality galleries. My site has 30 different vrml galleries, some with changing shows! Ton of ongoing curatorial and managerial work; I have survived 9+ months managing all the duties of museum director and curator for 5 different museums within the sites "Webmuseum Cybercolony" complex.
In short, I feel I may be the leading edge in the world for developing an actual Web based (site specific) museum theme online. Creating the actual site was only the start of WORK, now all time goes towards expansion through shows, new content, programs, etc.- just like a physical museum. I providing the global public an unique experience and it seems to have taken to it. Your average art site garners 1-15 visitors a day. Most traffic on the Web goes to search engines and directories, freebies to pirate or pornographic material. My site specializes in building permanent virtual collections of digital abstract art, not the most popular art form and subject matter in the physical world. Yet after only 9+ months I have over 30,000 visitors (which can backed up with statistical information). This is very good and a promising start, the ball is just starting to roll.
It was your ideas to made me realize that besides just being a Web site, my virtual museum IS an art installation of major historic significance. We just have to talk about your manifesto (can you come to Hawaii and be a guest in our home, see the collection of computer paintings that hung in LVAM in 1990?). I agree with your description of where art is and is going today. However I believe my Web project may serve as convincing evidence of your theories as it applies to the Web. After studying my sites aesthetic content and the site itself as a "work of art" you may want to expand your treatise or even modify your conclusions. We can talk. My personal approach to this opportunity for you self discovery and my work's official documentation and description via the art review would be to shut up and let the work speak for itself as something sensitive to present day high culture.
What has all this have to do with just doing your Web site? Well, as an experimental Web artist that exists 10-15 hours a day on the Web it is a bit of a step BACKWARDS approaching your site as just another informational institutional site that is jumping on the bandwagon and adding to the clutter of Web bandwidth transmission. If I stuck to this menial chore mode it would be the least work and effort on my part (I am quite a busy person). But realize construction the Web site is only the beginning, there's continuing Web managing to keep it vital and there's the task of constant promotion, linking, networking, etc. I could create a fantastic site but what if nobody sees it?
I now propose a course of action that takes all the following factors into account-
1.Your museum mission
2.Your curatorial position on Art after Post-Modernism
3.Your vision for Las Vegas as the next millenium's American capital of arts
4.Your stated desire to have Web presence, do leading edge things like vrml exhibits
5.Participate in collaborations on the Internet, as with R2001 art Web ring (they are now targeting shows in Helminski, Tokyo, New York, Scotland, London, Houston and Australia,all because of my lead in attempting to touch base with LVAM- they are meeting my personal challenge!)
6.Keep your upfront costs down in your new effort to get on the Web
7.Permit me to continue my creative approach to presenting art entities on the Web; I don't usually do anything unless I feel it warrants consideration to be historical when finally discovered/understood/described by the proper experts and authorities
8.Capitalize on the traffic I already have flowing through my site
9.Piggyback and save by using my own server (Simplenet account, unlimited memory but only l registered client per site/account permitted)
10.Dovetail my installation with your museum site to drive both to accelerated traffic, historical importance and instant prominence for the museum
11.Make your Web presence attuned with digital projects that can start up at your physical facility
12.Create a site that reaps MONEY through notoriety as a museum at the leading edge of Web culture and investigation of the physical museum's role in Cyberspace and Cyberculture. (Guest lecturing, workshops, online courses, model project for other museums to follow, seminars- all with fees for the museum)
13. Let the museum Web site be the catalyst that triggers physical space projects such as an artist-in-residence program for Web artists in conjunction with the startup of a School of Web Art (tuition!)
14.Actualized gains in fulfilling your prophesy for Las Vegas, take it away from New York!
15. Use ALL my resources, accomplishment on the Web up to the present without inhibiting my momentum of continued progress and at the same time create the same results for you startup presence
16.Utilize my artistic accomplishment and your institutional image/power symbiotically without the public impression that each is taking advantage of each other or displaying favoritism for self gain both ways
OK, here's what I propose (remember, rejection of this approach is OK with me and I still remain dedicated to creating just an ordinary "homepage" for the museum if this is what you agree on)-
1.My site becomes yours! There is no separatist division. In fact, per our current working agreement, I have started to build your site within my lastplace.com using all the same hardware and software. As such when it is provisionally online for your inspection and editing it will appear to be in my .com domain to the public.
2.During this period of building your site, before you get your own site (if that is the final scenario), we need to clarify to the online public just what the relationship is between lastplace.com and LVAM (don't present like you did with Hotelcasinomedia.com). You could state as curator that your site is being built by this prominent Web experimental artist and capsulate my site as a declared historic e-installation, decreed with a formal art review essay (that I pray for) as an appendendum to your "Art after Post-Modernism" (in fact Post-Modernism has not dead-ended but disappeared to reside on the Web; now that's saying too much already); describe a duo-internship relationship between virtual and physical museums, each learning about the other through direct working relationships.
3.But after much thought, the best public image approach is this- dear staff, lend me a temporary or provisional position in the museum. If for example, during the duration of my Web publishing effort to create your site I was dubbed the museum's Internet Programs Director and listed with other Staff in Art Beat and other literature this opens up a whole new public perspective of our working relationship. No longer are we separate entities online but ONE.
I work for the museum as staff. My site is the result of directing the museum's Web projects, including the construction of it's homepage or generic Web site, appropriate for any museum. But as Director I am officially declared your first "artist-in-cyberresidence" for the museum. I don't need office space! As such an artist working for the museum, as staff and as cyberartist, I create lastplace.com's "Webmuseum" as an installation that your essay can give artistic merit and credence to. There is no conflict of interest now. Besides, Simplenet cannot come after me for permitting another party to use their computer resources.
You get instant traffic of potentially over 200 visitors a day , saving me at least 50 hours of search engine manual drugery on your behalf ( of course some work is necessary to plug in your specific homepage and site into the engines and directories and linking with other art institutions).
You get instant major artistic content, a historic site specific piece that may just launch the museum into Web prominence. Taking credit for my existing virtual museum as a project created by your artist-in-cyberresidence is fine by me; I gain a lot of recognition for that. Believe me, it hasn't been easy gaining this level of success, lots of trial and error- you couldn't do it yourself or with enlistment of so called "professional Web publishing services". You need an experienced Web artist with a successful ongoing project. You tap into it and ride the wave to the edge with me.
As Internet Director I then want to use the networking, such as with the world based artists of R2001 and affiliations that I establish to create a true artist-in-residence program at the museum for a digital artist. Of course at the beginning no money, just work space (like Vivian Woods envisions). Even possiby bring his or her own computer. Carve out a tiny exhibit space and make a commitment to Web or at least digital art to augment my effots in Cyberspace. A "Web and Digital Art Gallery" resource gives me great bargaining power on the Web in behalf of the Museum interests. I understand not to make any commitments, exhibit or working relationships, without prior consent by you and the staff. I don't want the responsibilty of rejecting artists and getting involved in the logistics of installing real shows at the museum. Any activity must be coordinated within your general agenda and directions of the museum.
From this artist-in-residence which I can oversee we parlay the start of your spoke about "school of art". Let the artist be the teacher, charge tuition, thereby help support him/herself and the museum coffers. Workshops, seminars, classes, lectures. All you need is a little space for a couple of computer stations and you have a school. I can help you establish it, create an online and real brochure, etc. I have contacts with such programs such as that at the Chicago Art Institute and Hawaii's computer graphics program at the local junior college. With a Masters in Education and a Ph.D in Art Pyschology I won't trip all over myself and feel confident of success. Of course the main risk is distance between us, inadequate time available, inadequate planning and communication and financial support for the startup.
On the Web, besides my installation as a feature attraction for your "Web site" I want to build an affilation and collaboration network with museums and galleries around the world. My specialty remains discovering the best digital art online globally, that's my virtual museum's content that gains the attendance numbers realized. This knowledge and contact with the leaders in digital art of the world is my pool for the best instructors for your school of digital art. Short invitational artist-in-residence gigs at the museum (Vivian even suggested the artist lived in the back of your black gallery) WILL shorten the time it takes to establish your museum's existence and familiarity in every country from which these artists are selected.
In a few years, who knows. The programs may require my personal presence full time. I'm open to it after 23 years of dental practice. But with young kids I am in no rush and think I can handle these responsibities from here. This is part of the magic, the convenience of the Internet.
That's all I have to say. You all need to sit down and talk about this. I can come back to Vegas or you can come and be a guest here. The best solution is eyeball to eyeball, working all the details out like a formal business and marketing plan for the Web, for the museum and for the city of Las Vegas. I also have an interesting sculptural show in my mind targeted to gaining funding from the casinos, your Golden Goose.
You spoke of casino architecture as fine arts and we need to follow through and capitalize on your bold declaration of such arts.
My computer is off until we touch base.
By the way I was not able to input "Art Beat" info from your Mac unto my Pentium Windows 95 system. I also need the electronic version of your "Art after Post-Modernism", "Vision for Las Vegas" and other intellectual art writings by you, crucial for the site's presentation. Then, what only is glaringly lacking is an essay tying these writings to Web relevance and artistic situation. Through your study of my virtual museum I guarantee you an accelerated learning experience about the state of the arts online. After that, some time chatting between critic/reviewer and the artist should wrap things up and ready you for however you as critic see the electronic art frontier- present and future.
I will fax this, snail mail and mail you a electronic copy on disk. God, if you only had email already.
Sincerely yours, your faithful volunteer,
Rodney Chang, MA, MA, MSEd, DDS, PhD