Once I built a railroad, made it run
Made it race against time
Once I built a railroad, made it run
Brother, can you spare a dime?
What is it in the human character that makes people put aside
self-interest for the greater good of the community?
The question could lead to a long discussion ... late into the night.
It would be a good one for a Paris café ... where tobacco-stained
fingers could wave about ... or jab the night air to make a point
- alternately raising a half-lit cigarette ... or a glass of table
It could involve the classics - perhaps even Socrates' last discussions.
Urged by his friends to flee and save his skin, Socrates decided to
stay and drink the hemlock, for the good of others - for the good
of the community. At least, that is what he said.
Or you might probe the controversial mysteries of sociobiology ...
of the gene for altruism. Or perhaps you could explore the curiosity
of warfare - where young men sometimes undertake projects in which
they will almost certainly be killed. American pilots who struck the
Japanese fleet at the battle of Midway, for example, went off knowing
that they probably had insufficient fuel to get back.
But I will stick to my beat - fAf. Since my first days with fAf, there
has never been a single dull moment or a time when I've ever felt
any idea is unachievable. It must be connected to our dynamic culture
and inner sense of adventure. But most of all, it is the selfless
individuals who have contributed their time, energy and resources,
united by their vision to inform, document and highlight new discoveries
and happenings within our community.
Some of these individuals you will find in the contents of this cdrom.
Over the years, about 500 volunteers - artists, academics, technologists
and students - have contributed to the publication with little (or
no) monetary reward. We've paid tribute to our long-running supporters
and those vibrant individuals in our Roll Call 1987 - 2002 (see Credits
Roger Malina in Memories of 1988 said: "Maybe the (fAf's) masthead
should say 'the longest continually published publication on the arts'.
Except this is not the point. The point is for the 'rhizome' to survive
and continue to provide the services needed by the community - we
aren't building institutions, we are building a life support system."
I agree. Surely, its not about fancy technology nor infrastructure
- it's definitely about building a community life support system.
It's really about people, personal relationships and lots of goodwill.
That's our most valuable resource, and its individuals who have been
instrumental in ensuring fAf's survival.
While writing this, I dug into fAf's archives, and re-read Malina's
account of fAf's alliance with Leonardo/ISAST: "according to
the contract we wrote we would share in the profits of what was clearly
a product responding to a need. Well ten years later (founder) Ray
Lauzzana has still not seen a single dollar of revenue, and fineArt
forum is still responding to a need within the professional community
of artists involved with technology and with computers."
Judy Malloy, in her 1997 article, In this Electronic Medium illustrates
this point vividly:
"On one side of me this afternoon as I write these words, I have
some information about my financial situation that is destined for
a finance company. On my other side is a substantial pile of printouts
of old issues of fAf and LEN that contain WORDS ON WORKS and the records
of correspondence with many fellow artists about their work. I don't
think my long record of helping artists get out information about
their work will impress the finance company. But I am happy to have
been working both as an artist and with artists - for ten years in
this continuously wonderful electronic medium."
Returning back to my railroad reference, one of the popular analogies
of the digital age has been between the Internet and railroads. More
specifically, the comparison has been made between the railway tracks
that spread out all over different nations of the world and the wiring
of the globe for the Internet.
Stock market watchers have pointed out that many railroads went bankrupt
... and the shares crashed several times ... before they settled down.
It might also be noted that early railroad investors provided a huge
service to the community so that the system could be built - ultimately
with the intent of linking the planet.
In How fAf began founder Ray Lauzzana recalls fAf's humble beginnings
on ARPANET largely energized by a group of students at University
of Massachusetts, Amherst and describes: "the idea of connecting
the planet has obsessed me most of my life."
Judging from the ethos from which fAf emerged and continues to thrive
in - how impossible can it really be? :-).
Click here to read the fAf
editors virtual roundtable.
The initial idea for this cdrom was hatched in 1999, during
a meeting with Paul Brown. Since its foundation fAf has been an
international publication and in its earliest days, was available
in the Soviet Union and many developing nations.
However, we realized that while more global professionals were using
fAf as a resource, we were unable to reach a substantial community
who did not have Internet access.
This commemorative cdrom is an ideal platform to reach them inexpensively
and provide access to our resources for research, to inform, encourage
them to track developments, and inspire their personal works.
This is our attempt to build east-west bridges, exposing upcoming
communities to the established and enhancing opportunities for exposure
through our networks and resources.
Thankfully things fell into place, and with support from Queensland
University of Technology Services' grant scheme, we were able to
finance this production.
Also exclusively on fAf_15: the travelling screening program 'fineArt
in Motion' showcasing 14 works from young and emerging artists from
around the world; specially collated features on fAf's fabulous
15 years; and indepth discussions about all things fAf with past
and present editors, Ray Lauzzana, Roger Malina, Annick Buread,
Judy Malloy, Paul Brown, Linda Carroli, and myself.
Find out how fAf really started and who was involved in a drunken
brawl with whom in whose kitchen. Our special thanks go out to Linda
Carroli who project-managed this to a timely production, to Daniel
Heinonen who worked tirelessly to ensure our archives were kept
intact and functional and support from our core team Gavin Thiesfield,
Elizabeth Amon, Polly Chu, Clare Dunn, James Quinn-Hawtin, Andy
Stockwell, Gavin Winter, Gavin Sade, Debra Polson, Robin Yee and
So here's to you and your spiritedness - to everyone around the
world who has helped fAf keep going! Thank you.