What does it mean to embed our lifestyle practices into hybridized
online/offline social networks? Is reality per se always already a "mixed
reality"? The telematic substance is there, not there. Now you see it, now
you don't. But you can still feel it. Not as substance per se, but as
relationship. As Nam June Paik once said, cybernetics is "the science of
pure relations, or relationship itself" and "has its origin in karma."
Paik also said: "Cybernated art is very important, but art for cybernated
life is more important, and the latter need not be cybernated."
Kate Rich's Feral Trade artwork has good karma. It puts into practice the
science of D-I-Y trade relations and shows us that cybernated life is more
important than cybernated art and that the former need not even be
What's her medium? Is it the Internet? Freelance couriers? Coffee? Cola?
Her trade "is an initiative to develop new trade relations along social
networks. The use of the word 'feral' denotes a process which is wilfully
wild (as in pigeon) as opposed to romantically or nature-wild (wolf). The
passage of goods can open up wormholes between diverse social settings,
routes along which other information, techniques or individuals can
In this sense, the artwork doubles as tactical media. It subverts
mainstream distribution systems, opens up unsuspecting social networks,
and brings to the surface issues that trouble the socio-economic forces
driving our turbo-charged technocapitalist culture. For instance, when we
talk of open source -- how many self-identified hacker-hipsters eat open
source produce? Is it locally sourced and organic? How did you get it and
where did you buy it? It's one thing to show off your mischievous
art-virus at the big art fair or Museum of Modern Hacktivism, but how do
you code your own D-I-Y network of locally-sourced sustainability?
Of all of the excellent net art sites we viewed this year, Feral Trade
best embodies this year's theme. And, if you ever get a chance, buy the
coffee. It's out of this world.