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Vol. III

ARPANET Test March 1976
with Joseph Beuys, Juan Downey, Rosalind Krauss & Henry Moore

Published on 1 November 2011. Presented as a contribution to the project/publication The Archive as a Productive Space of Conflict .

22 March 1976 – The transcript presented here records a conversation between four figures from the 1970s-era art community: German artist, educator and activist, Joseph Beuys; Chilean-born multimedia artist and filmmaker, Juan Downey; Rosalind Krauss, art critic and co-founder of the new journal October; and the world-renown British sculptor, Henry Moore. The occasion of this conversation was suggested by Donald Lupton, a computer scientist and researcher working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a lab funded by DARPA. Lupton has been commissioned with restarting the Agency’s art and culture propaganda project, which has lain relatively dormant since the early 60s. Unbeknownst to the four participants, this conversation is an early test case for exploring new forms of cultural dissemination with the aim of using Western intellectuals for spreading democratic values. Please note that the respective computer terminals for each participant were identified by the names of gods from Roman mythology and have here been changed to reflect the actual names of the participants. The application, still in its early stage of development, had limited syntax capability, thus punctuation was limited to the full stop. Also, the original timestamps for each transmission have been removed for the sake of legibility.

Addendum: Upon completion of this discussion, Krauss, who was quite impressed by the novelty of the telecommunications medium as a way to internationalize artistic discourse, has requested the transcript for publication in the first issue of October journal. Lupton has reported her intentions back to the Agency, and the publishers at MIT Press have suppressed the publication. A copy of the transcript remains in the MIT Press archives.

* * *

ROSALIND KRAUSS
Hello. Are we all present.
HENRY MOORE
Hello there.
JOSEPH BEUYS
I am here yes.
HENRY MOORE
This is Henry Moore.
JOSEPH BEUYS
I am Joseph Beuys.
ROSALIND KRAUSS
Mr Downey are you there.
JUAN DOWNEY
Hello. Juan Downey yes. Im here. Im a slow typer.
ROSALIND KRAUSS
Then shall we begin.
HENRY MOORE
Indeed yes I dont have too long.
JUAN DOWNEY
I am very excited about this.
JOSEPH BEUYS
Yes this is very curious.
HENRY MOORE
I find it very alienating.
JUAN DOWNEY
Herr Beuys are you in Germany. Can I refer to you as Joseph. Its like flying with a Concorde on a keyboard.
JOSEPH BEUYS
Joseph is fine. I am in Germany.
ROSALIND KRAUSS
I would like to pose a first question to each of you.
JUAN DOWNEY
Please do.
HENRY MOORE
I find all this soulless. I cannot hear you. The buttons are too small.
ROSALIND KRAUSS
Then this may interest you Henry. There is tendency towards conceptualism in art today of which you are all aware Im sure. I wonder do you feel there is a place for expressionism in the art of today.
JUAN DOWNEY
Dear Henry give it some time. Youll find it refreshing hopefully in a while.
JOSEPH BEUYS
It is alienatating isnt it. No windows in this room either.
HENRY MOORE
I find this a strange question. That is what art is and always has been.
JUAN DOWNEY
An expression you mean.
HENRY MOORE
Indeed. What else.
ROSALIND KRAUSS
Expression is not necessarily the same as expressionism though. Im placing it in an art historical and cultural context.
JUAN DOWNEY
And would you define expressionism as something subjective objective or both.
ROSALIND KRAUSS
Both and intimately connected at that.
JUAN DOWNEY
Would that describe either of your lifes work. Henry. Joseph. Seems a bit of a wide angle to me.
HENRY MOORE
Well certainly. Art is the whole part psychological. It allows us to externalize our thoughts about the world. It makes us human and we see it everywhere.
JUAN DOWNEY
We are human without art. With or without it.
HENRY MOORE
I see it here in Kenya. I see it in the Tate Gallery. I see it in Germany. I see it in schools everywhere.
JOSEPH BEUYS
Juan we are less human without art. Every human individual must realize their creative potential to be artists to experience absolute freedom.