Artistes en Réseau was the first major attempt by myself and Georges-Albert Kisfaludi to create a permanent artists’ network linking art schools and other laboratories interested in artistic creation and the occupation of the network space for art. We worked closely with students from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, where I ran the video art section, and Georges-Albert’s school, the Ecole Régionale de Beaux Arts in Nantes.
We also worked with the Asagaya art school in Toyko and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Lyon. The students experimented in image exchange principally with Macs and modems over ISDN connections.
At ENSAD we had experimented in the early 80’s with slowscan connections with the Carnegie-Mellon University art school in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately there is no trace of those exchanges to my knowledge.
Artistes en Réseau evolved from Art en Réseau, a consortium of 30 French art schools put together by myself and Christiane Carlut to buy a collection of video art, jointly owned by the art schools. The schools participated financially and were matched by the Ministry of Culture allowing us to buy a large collection of French and American video art. The collection was administered by Heure Exquise in Lille for many years, supported financially by Le Fresnoy.
Our plan was to use the network to manage the collection, having the catalogue and pedagogical support material on line and allowing schools to order tapes directly. That was to be the beginning of Artistes en Réseau. It never took off because people couldn’t get used to using the network. The collection still exists but no longer functions for lack of institutional support to manage it.
AER also served as the backroom for the Electronic Café’s front room. It was the space were people tried new ideas, learned the ropes and developed things that were later taken to the public when it become the ECI. It was our experimental lab.
I’ve included here a list of network events compiled by Gilberto Prado and completed by Georges-Albert Kisfaludi and myself as well we could remember. It is incomplete but may fill in some gaps for people interested in the history.