Alessandro Ludovico has engaged in communication and media aesthetics as a practitioner, theorist and curator. Since 1993, he has been the editor-in-chief of Neural, an influential new media culture magazine published in both English and Italian www.neural.it. He is also one of the founding members of the nettime list and of the Mag.Net (Magazine Network of Electronic Cultural Publishers) organisation.
In the following brief interview, conducted via email between January and May 2008, Ludovico discusses topics ranging from Italian traditions of hacktivism, the apparent institutional marginalisation of media art and possibilities for conceptual aesthetic approaches to the digital culture.
1. Could you explain something of how you originally developed an interest in media art? We understand you had an early involvement with ‘mail art’ and fanzines, to what extent have these practices informed your thought around exploratory and aesthetic approaches to distributed communication networks?
Fanzines were an effective, cheap and archival medium for sharing ideas in freedom of expression soaked subcultures. Mail Art in my opinion was ‘the net before the net’. Its spontaneous network of artist supporting themselves and sharing ‘performative’ action through the postal network, connecting local exhibitions with interrelated social relationships was simply unique. Furthermore I developed an interest in computers and IT, especially in its internal mechanisms and aesthetic (as many young guys did during the 80′s). With the BBS phenomenon first and the early net practices later all these interests were short-circuited. I had a medium to express my approach (the magazine), a background in artistic networking (mail art), a technical knowledge to understand them and a rising avant garde that I was accidentally part of (after being invited in the first nettime meeting): the net art. Could I have asked for more?