tom moody

The art happens in hyperspace

Cross-posted to Paddy Johnson's blog:

With all due respect to Paddy and my esteemed online colleagues:
I dislike that simple net art diagram and all the pretentious assumptions it stands for ("art is like, on the net, and happens in the space between computers, like wow") and wish it was not on the front page of the GIF show website. GIFs happen on the screen where they are made and the screens where they are shown, not in some vague in-between place. It's true that GIFs can be collaborative and take elements from various locations on the web but they are not an "art of the network." That is MTAA's position but it is an old, Web Art 1.0 position (art solely as critique of invisible hegemonic structures) and doesn't speak for at least one artist in the GIF show. I also dislike Kevin Bewersdorf's hippie zen new age "art circulating through our chakras" GIF--that is no better as an alternative. DH Lawrence might have liked the idea of the solar plexus as the seat of creation but I'll take the mind, thanks. I made my own "art happens here" GIF seven years ago and don't feel like posting it again. I basically don't care "where the art happens."

Update: Nothing wrong with code in art; it's code as art, in the self-conscious, semantic, Charles Harrison/Victor Burgin/Art & Language sense, that gets old. Only one artist in the "Graphics Interchange Format" show is particularly concerned with the latter (a two-person team). Unfortunately they speak persuasively to the man who designed the website, from what can be gathered from the blog discussion after the above comment was posted. "[T]he position of the GIF is shaky enough that you're going to be remembered together or not at all" is how he bridges disparate philosophies of working online: not too encouraging from someone who is supposed to be explaining a new style of working. It's awkward enough being reduced to a file format (a necessary fiction most artists would accept for the sake of context) without being told your art career will sink or swim depending on how it fares.

Update 2: The above-linked thread grew progressively nutty. If you have the stamina to read it, please note the number of times my arguments are paraphrased, each time with increasing levels of speculation, paranoia, accusations of disloyalty and ingratitude, and plain old ad hominem abuse. The case for a difficult artist bucking the show for reasons of ego (as opposed to simple disagreement on principles) is vastly amplified.

Update 3: Sally McKay thinks the (cross-posted) statement above constitutes "polemical attachment to a medium." It's hard enough defending your own words without having to defend ones others ascribe to you.

- tom moody

March 30th, 2011 at 11:50 am

Posted in general