Public Netbase: Wikis


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Public Netbase
Formation 1994
Extinction 2006
Purpose/focus Platform for Critical Internet Culture
Location Vienna, Austria

Public Netbase was a cultural media initiative, open access internet platform, and advocate for the development of electronic art. Long a support of avant-garde, sometimes controversial, art and digital culture, the project increasingly came into conflict with the Austrian political establishment during the 1990s. Despite awards and recognition by UNESCO, the political controversy led to a lack of funding that ended the project in 2006.


Early development

Although Public Netbase itself was founded in Vienna by Konrad Becker and Francisco de Sousa Webber in 1995, its parent organization, the Institute for New Culture Technologies, was established in 1994 in Vienna's Museumsquartier.[1] Most of the Institute's activities after 1995 occurred through Public Netbase, leading to the names and establishment dates being loosely applied, even in the organization's official material. The name of its World Wide Web server, t0, was often appended to either name as well.

Art and culture

Netbase 3.jpg

Public Netbase focused on aiding the development of electronic art and the impact of the nascent World Wide Web on culture. Its own online presence earned it an award for distinction at the Prix Ars Electronica in 1995.[2] Much of the web space provided through Public Netbase supported Austrian artists, although some hosted projects, such as the Transformation Story Archive, had wider recognition. The physical location in the Museumsquartier was also used for sponsored events, ranging from art symposia to a conference of the Association of Autonomous Astronauts[3] to a "lecture/performance/event" by Critical Art Ensemble about biotechnology.[4]

Involvement in politics

When the right-wing Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) and its leader Jörg Haider began to rise in power in Austria, Public Netbase took an increasingly political activist role while facing increasing government pressure. Haider accused Public Netbase of sponsoring child pornography[5] and conflated Christina Göstl's hosted erotic art with a commercial porn site in the British Virgin Islands during a speech in parliament.[6] Meanwhile, Public Netbase sponsored a "virtual alternative to Austria's far right government" that offered Austrian Web Resistance Awards to web sites dedicated to opposing Haider's government.[7]

Public Netbase's actions earned considerable prestige. The Institute for Applied Autonomy, recipient of an award for distinction in interactive art at the Prix Ars Electronica 2000,[8] dedicated their award to Public Netbase for its political efforts.[9] Another Public Netbase project begun during this period,, described as "an ongoing effort to critically observe and investigate new technologies in a societal, economic and artistic context"[10] led to involvement with the UNESCO Digi-Arts program[11] and a series of conventions across Europe.

However, the organization's successes were insufficient to stave off problems. Its lease at the Museumsquartier was not renewed after the controversial remodelling period in 2000,[12] and it faced a series of audits and other bureaucratic obstacles. Financial difficulties and an inability to secure a permanent replacement location were never able to be resolved.[13] Despite significant community support and a reorganization effort in 2005 that shortened its name to Netbase, the City of Vienna stopped all funding effective January 11, 2006, leading to the immediate shut down of the organization.

List of Events

Austria's most successful political indicator tool is available for the federal elections 2006.
  • World-Information City
is a joint effort of European and South Asian civil society, a global cooperation rooted in the diversity of Bangalore's Information Society projects.
  • Networks of Imagination
Global Information Landscapes and Urban Transformations in Asia
  • ZKW kf45 2005
Virtual Drama in four Acts: A critical interpretation of historical representation in the Austrian "jubilee year" 2005
  • Free Bitflows
Cultures of Access and Politics of Dissemination
  • S-77CCR
System 77 Civil Counter-Reconnaissance. Eyes in the skies, Democracy in the Streets.
  • nikeground
rethinking space. the hardly believable nikeplatz trick. staged by 0100101110101101.ORG and t0.
  • Campaign against the violation of data protection
Public Netbase’s International Campaign against the violation of data protection laws informs passengers at Vienna Airport
  • World-Information.Org
is a trans-national cultural intelligence provider, a collaborative effort of artists, scientists and technicians. It is a ractical example for a technical and contextual environment for cultural production and an independent platform of critical media intelligence.
  • Open Cultures
Free Flows of Information and the Politics of Commons - A two day conference / workshops / exhibition
  • Power Lines, Opposing Gazes
Bureau d'études - a presentation and open diskussion
  • Dark Markets
Infopolitics, Electronic Media and Democracy in Times of Crisis - A two day strategic conference that will look into state of arts theories of democracy, media politics and information technologies.
  • cyborg citizen
Chris Hables Gray, author of "Cyborg Citizen" and Faith Wilding (SubRosa)
  • basecamp Text-FM
Public Netbase relocating to MQ in summer 2002 on + 600 m2
documents the political repressions from Austria's right wing government aimed at Public Netbase t0 as well as international manifestations of solidarity for the Vienna based Institute for New Culture Technologies.
  • Interface Explorer
presents current trends in the development of new interfaces and web browsers. It will display projects of international artists and provide a forum for the discussion of the state of the art and the future of net communication tools.
  • basecamp remote jam
Public Netbase relocating to MQ in summer 2002 on + 600 m2
  • European Cultural Backbone
The European Cultural Backbone (ECB) is a coalition of mediacultural institutions and individuals working together to creatively use and develop participatory media for social change.
offers a virtual alternative to Austria's far right government by proposing models and concepts for a truly democratic information society.
  • SYNWORLD playwork:hyperspace
illustrated the relationship between popular game worlds and scientific and socially relevant developments.
Current developments in automation and robotics confront us with diverging future possibilities...
The Society of the Unknown (London/UK) "Towards a Sonic Revolution"
  • FLESH MACHINE: A Genexploitation Project
by Critical Art Ensemble (Chicago)
Arts Laboratory & CONSUMPTION Photon Connection


  1. ^ "About Public Netbase / t0". Retrieved 2006-11-28.  
  2. ^ "Prix Ars Electronica 1995 World Wide Web Distinction". Retrieved 2006-11-28.  
  3. ^ "Association of Autonomous Astronauts' Intergalactic Conference in Vienna, Earth, June 21-22 1997". Press release. 1997-06-06. Retrieved 2006-11-28.  
  4. ^ "FLESH MACHINE: A Genexploitation Project". Press release. 1997-11-17. Retrieved 2006-11-28.  
  5. ^ Flor, Micz (1998-11-27). "Sex slaves to public opinion - Public Netbase kicks back...". Crash Media. Retrieved 2006-10-01.  
  6. ^ Brown, Janelle (1998-09-06). "Is it Sex or is it Art?". Salon. Retrieved 2006-10-02.  
  7. ^ "About". Retrieved 2006-11-28.  
  8. ^ "Prix Ars Electronica 2000 Interactive Art Distinction". Retrieved 2006-11-28.  
  9. ^ "Public Netbase t0 ist überraschender Preisträger des Prix Ars Electronica 2000". Retrieved 2006-11-28.  
  10. ^ "". Public Netbase. Retrieved 2006-11-28.  
  11. ^ "". UNESCO. 2004-10-11. Retrieved 2006-11-28.  
  12. ^ Wassermair, M. (2000-10-16). "'In Austria, the Clock Ticks with a Different Beat': Short Story of Public Netbase t0, its International Success and Recent Political Struggles". Cultivate Interactive (2). ISSN 1471-3225. Retrieved 2006-11-28.  
  13. ^ "Open letter to Michael Häupl, Mayor of Vienna, and the Vienna City Government". Press release. 2004-05-06. Retrieved 2006-11-28.  

Publications about Public Netbase

  • Branka Ćurčić / Zoran Pantelić / New Media (Ed.): Public Netbase: Non Stop Future - New Practices in Art and Media, Frankfurt a. M. (Revolver), 2008, ISBN 978-3-86588-455-8 (Hardcover)
  • Josephine Bosma: Constructing Media Spaces. The novelty of net(worked) art was and is all about access and engagement, in: Media Art Net, 2004, URL: [1]

External links



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