Slowly,but surely internet asserts itself all over the world,being every day greater the number of connected people to the web of nets Latin America is not the exception,from Punta Arenas in Chile to Mexicali in Mexico, the entities electronically united in the infoway of superhighway are thousands and thousands,which through the cyberspecial waves reach the most far away corners of the world.
Networks are not only overused by transnational companies that in such a way enlarge their field of action -and consequently their power- but also,by the most unthinkable institutions like the Zapatists Army of Chiapas,who would attempt against that power pursuing a more righteous distribution of properties.
In spite of the little time of development (in Latin America the first electronic communications were carried out in the last few years,in Uruguay it was in August 1994),we shall not remain outside the "global village" and we shall be integrated,though we feel sorry for it,to the world economy and -definitely- to the "international style",that unpainted pannel of values and cultures.
When an advance or a discovery occurs in any of the areas oh humnan knowledge or technique,changes and alterations also happen in the other areas,including the artistic one.So,it has obviously influenced mail art that,before any other consideration,gives
priority to communication and interchange.In such a way,that the conjunction of the habitual means of communication -nowadays the postal service,the faxsimile and the electronic mail- has given origin to network,denomination that would give account of these advances and -consequently- of the form of artistic expression that makes possible the creative interaction or networking.
These tendencies are consolidated when,in Latin America,towards 1991,within the frame of the 21st.Biennal of Sao Paulo,Brazil,the "Reflux Network Project" (project of net of commicators to distance,via electronic) was carried out through mediation of the curator of the Biennal,Mr.Arthur Matuck,a system of telecommunication in 24 nodes or bases locateds in University Art Departments,Artistic Investigation Centers and artists connecteds to internet pertaining to fourteen countries.
Another consecrating event in this brief historical development is constituted by the Network Telenetlink Project organized by Crackerjack Kid (Chuck Welch) in relation to "Reflux Network Project" and the "Decentralized World Wide Networker Congress"(NC92).In this Congress bases of storage and distribution of information were established and,at the same time,the table of electronic conferences was conformed,were the new role of the artists was actively discussed in the light of the latest technological advances of the moment.Precisely,the latinoamerican base or "Latin American Netlink" was established in Uruguay,since when the information and the most important papers of the Congress have been translated,as well as,all networkers of the region have been recycled through a monthly bulletin,edited in Spanish,and finally we asisted in the organization of the "Network Telenetlink 1995" in charge of the already quoted Crackerjack Kid,with the express objectives of knowledge and exploration of the telematic media,the development of the local and/or global communities of communication,the interchange of information referred to arts,the meetings of mail art and the telematic arts through the internet in their different forms,the relation among the electronic files,the experimentation with telematic technologies,fax,interactive exhibitions,etc.
For many artists of the Third World,as well as for many of the developing countries,to talk of acceding to the new media is discouraging.In the first place,because as an expressive means the possibilities are minor (not only different) than that of mail art or faxsimile.When the employment of scanner technology becomes possible or when images (quiet or in movement) and sounds can be transmitted,the situation will change,without any doubt.But,for the moment,only text and some special configurations can be transmitteds,due to the use of different kinds of scattered letters on the space of the page:also,hardly some experiences with mail and faxsimile,playing with their different speeds.
In second place,due the price,and we are not referring to cost of transmission and reception of messages,via e-mail,that happen to be cheaper than mail or faxsimile,but the cost of instrumentation,i.e.,the cost of computers,printers,telephone,modems,etc.,to which we have to add the cost of the monthly affiliation with the institutions that will connect us to internet.
In third and last place,we must situate the ethic-political implications.Mainly,the technologism that makes us suffer the unequal commercial development (which in the decade of the sixties was called "cultural imperialism").On the other hand,they impose upon us the merchandise,the computer and the connection to the world net (under penalty of never getting out of pre-modernism) and,on the other hand,they impose us the rules for their use,i.e.,only an exclusive means of accumulation and ordering of data and,in a very little measure, the creation of educational programs.The access to programs or data and advanced information is forbidden to us.Also,the organization that gives connection to the nodes or bases in all the world is located in the United States,the National Science Foundation,that through only occupied in intermediating among the useres,it is not exempt from being intervened by power in the future.
But these limitations are not decisives,although they could be considered as another gear in the wheel of the economic and political dependence.On the other side,they favour productive relationships by promoting major and more extended developments in all the areas of the human occupation.
Networking generated in the nets and circuits organized in open horizontal structures assures its multidirectional decentralized nature.It is,therefore,intrinsically democratic and it has arisen in the arts of our epoche,not only because impels the scientific advances in the field of communication,but because it also expresses the tolerance and cultural multiplicity without forgeting the peculiarities each one,of each networker in the net,id est,the respect to the others within a climate of generous interaction that does leave aside the legitimate demands for a plentiful life,full of creative significance.
Published in "Netshaker Online",vol.2,nr.2,July,1995