Mute - the Editorial

By Mute Editor, 14 September 1997


Including: Jamie King takes tea with Kevin Kelly, Josephine Bosma on Internet audio, Matthew Fuller's 'Long dark phone in of the soul' + Sue Thomas on online identity and Caroline Bassett on Sadie Plant.

Nearly three years ago (in November 1994can ), Mute was launched with a free pilot broadsheet. The Art & Technology Newspaper's pilot theme was 'Can art survive the 20th Century?' A somewhat excessive title perhaps in retrospect. But one that attempted a response to the do-or-die mythmaking of 'the digital revolution'.

It hasn't escaped many that this phase of internet hype is now at an end. Sober epitaphs are being laid on the grave of of the digital revolution while journalists and economic analysts alike are kicking back saying 'I told you so'. The targets have become very easy yet the reasoning as to why things have supposedly failed and how they might not have, less so.

But all of this seems to be a simplistic response to a simplistic premise. Though it fuelled countelss dreams, both corporate and individual, leaving the meat behind and jacking into cyberspace was always a fiction. An age old archetype which, digitally transmogrified, got mistaken as a feasible gauge for our technological development. Taken in conjunction with a set of premises and hopes that were often more economical than anything else, why should we lament their demise?

As denying the historical and technological base (and effect) of the hype would be equally myopic, perhaps the questions that this mythic revolution raised can be looked at again. The role of art, for example, or, after the Californian Ideology, a hard look at the European Ideology. After three years of intense exchange between American and European cybercultures, the discussion about technology and culture seems set to move beyond their political, social and economic divides to make contact with those of the Far East, South America, Africa etc. The lull in the market sounds like a blessing in disguise.