tom moody

Putting Art Back Online so the Public Can Have It Globally, Year Two

The NY Observer's GalleristNY blog covered in more detail the lecture by 0-Day Art (Jeremiah Johnson and Don Miller) at Eyebeam, which I mentioned last week. Readers may remember the impetus for 0-Day Art was Rhizome.org Director Lauren Cornell's risible plan last year to sell an animated GIF by "taking it offline so the collector can have it locally." Rhizome's position* seems to be that the poor turn of phrase originated with artist Sara Ludy but of course Ludy said nothing of the kind. "0-Day" refers to the amount of time data should be kept offline for the sake of commerce.

Here's the NY Observer:

“Is it okay to take digital art ‘offline’ to give it value,” asked Mr. Johnson rhetorically. “No. It’s not okay. That’s a ridiculous way to monetize net art.”

Mr. Johnson and Mr. Miller were referring to a video that first piqued their interest in exploring the valuation of net-based work. They saw the video** “How Do You Sell an Animated GIF,” which showed Rhizome executive director Lauren Cornell talking about selling the quirky computer animations that could be taken “offline” and enjoyed “locally” by collectors. While the conversation about limiting access to digital artwork or imposing restrictions on their display and transfer was not new, it forced people to have an opinion about the issue one way or another, including Mr. Johnson and Mr. Miller.

“We’re resistant to attempts to create value or applying a paradigm that exists for physical objects,” said Mr. Johnson who was seated next to Mr. Miller behind a table and partially hidden by an open laptop. Behind them was a large screen which displayed bright green vintage-like computer graphics. “In treating digital works as a physical work, you’re neutering the power of those works.”

Also, this amusing exchange:

[0-Day Art] also passed around a flash drive and encouraged anyone with a computer to download all of the work that 0-Day has ever released.

“This might seem disrespectful,” said Mr. Johnson. “We have ultimate respect for the artists’ intentions.”

“I can’t reconcile your saying you’re trying to be respectful,” said a young man in the audience later, “when what you’re doing is not respectful.”

“If you’re anyone and you’re putting anything online,” said Mr. Johnson in response, “and you expect to control it, you’re delusional. I don’t see how holding a mirror up to someone’s delusions is disrespectful.”

*from what I'm hearing secondhand -- I haven't asked Rhizome for a statement -- maybe someone else wants to take the career risk
**actually not a video but a blog post by Hyperallergic

Update: A Verge article by Joshua Kopstein, also covering 0-Day Art, now has this disclaimer at the end:

Lauren Cornell reached out to us saying that Sara Ludy's work was taken offline at the request of the artist, and that it does not reflect Rhizome policy. Cornell further pointed out that it is Rhizome's goal to preserve digital work, as the group later outlined in a paper entitled Keeping It Online.

There's advocacy for you: at the first sign of controversy Rhizome blames the artist for requesting a business model that is now said to go against the organization's own policy (oddly, that wasn't mentioned at the time of the Hyperallergic interview).

- tom moody

April 17th, 2012 at 6:15 am

Posted in general