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Empyrean (Rackham, Melinda)Opus (Raqs Media Collective), 2001

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Representation and central debates are becoming increasingly difficult to create, to the degree that there is very little difference between online and offline tactics for both. This has resulted in an increasing physicality of online practices: they are so much more connected to physical networks and institutions that online cultures tend to be overtaken by offline practices, networks or structures. An obvious example of this is the institutionalization of the entire new media art field, including what was once known as Net art, an area that was supposedly out of reach of any art world. The institutionalization of online platforms as described above is another issue altogether, even if it is also connected to an institutionalization of its offline supporting initiatives. This shows itself most of all in feelings of exclusion in former target members or in the wish to simply have a space of one's own, with a more intimate and focused climate for debates and research. In recent years, initiatives such as the online and offline media lab Sarai, the Web sites and mailings of Furtherfield, Netartreview and the mailing list Empyre have added new riches to the development of online cultures.


They have yet to prove their influence in the long run, but they are already major players with their own audiences and networks (even if there is, of course, some overlap with other, older initiatives online). Of all of these only Furtherfield sees itself as a kind of social sculpture or work of art as well, but one can ask oneself whether Empyre and Netartreview are not very close to being art projects too. Furtherfield and Netartreview were both developed as a kind of alternative to Rhizome. Empyre was originally even a part of an art project by Melinda Rackham called »Empyrean« but seems to have developed away from that. Sarai New Media Initiative in was very much modeled after European media labs such as and Public Netbase. [29] Its emphasis on criticism and political discussion make it seem more of a community project for access and knowledge distribution than an art project, but it definitely also has a focus on art and some of its initiators are artists. The Raqs Media Collective, which was invited to Documenta 11, co-founded Sarai and together with them Sarai has developed an open source software project called OPUS. Sarai exists both on and offline and has its

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