Archive for April, 2012
From Paddy Johnson's "dude-centric net art" thread:
forced political correctness kills creativity.
I'm on a creative roll here, let's see... I want to curate a show of internet art...who shall I put in it? Don't stifle me now! I want to come up with the best possible idea for a show! What? Women? Augh! ...creativity....stifled....
I don't really know how to express myself the best way here... I've typed and deleted a few paragraphs that used analogies because I saw that each one could be easily misconstrued.
But yes - an outside demand of quotas on something that should be put together with ONLY the art produced in mind (and please note that the art is genderless, ageless, and raceless) and not things like "not enough women ratio in this microcosm" makes the creativity and passion of the organizers do a nose dive.
some of my favourite net art is created by women... but NOT because they are women and NOT because someone says I should like it because my personal tastes should be ratioed in a gender balanced way.
The internet fosters a lot of unreflective self-expression, and that's truly a wonderful thing, but having to think about how your show might come across to other people besides yourself, in a context outside your immediate circles, is not exactly a big set back for most curators - for a lot of people it's actually kind of the whole entire point of curating. Being accountable for what you put out into the public sphere is challenging, and it should be.
Documentary filmmaker John Grierson said "Art is not a mirror -- it is a hammer." This a shorter, even more radical assertion than the well-known Brecht quote "Art is not a mirror to hold up to society but a hammer with which to shape it." Radical because the "mirror" now refers to any mimetic function and the hammer now smashes without being justified by any social "shaping."
The ultimate logical, scientific extension of thinking "about how your show might come across to other people besides yourself" is focus-grouping. We know how well that works from Hollywood movies: you get happy endings and endless stories about self-actualization in the face of adversity.
A viewpoint free of quotas, averaging, and taking the audience's temperature is not necessarily "unreflective self-expression." Art is one place where you can say "deal with it." If a critic can only talk about your quotas, you've either failed to communicate or your critic is attempting to deflect attention away from the point you are making.
hat tip erik stinson for "lofts"
Was intrigued by these Will Neibergall comments to yesterday's Paddy Johnson post about "dude-centric" net art shows. Neibergall hails from Tempe AZ, where a straight male high school student, River Flanary, recently made news by attempting to run for prom queen on a write-in ballot. Flanary said he did it "to give courage" to LGBT students daunted by the ballot, which required students to write in names of girls for queen and names of boys for king. Flanary got the most votes but was disqualified by the school. Neibergall argues along somewhat similar lines that male/female quotas in art reinforce a "heteronormative man/woman structure."
Obviously you don't take the art very seriously if you find yourself standing in the middle of a show making calculations as to the gender makeup of the participants...
Also, I sincerely hope you realize that you are "queerizing" and making some repugnant assumptions about gender lines simply by demanding an expanded female presence in netart. You are saying "People feel, live and act differently if they have vaginas so they are just as important to new media art as men," but this is assuming that A) recognizing that "vagina barrier" is something we have to tackle before we can enjoy new media art for being what it is, and B) transsexual/transgendered/gender neutral people are too "exotic"/queer to demand as readily as women, and the "best we can do" is to get the relatively heteronormative man/woman structure in art. The thing is, we can't demand ANY person to diversify a field with their presence (especially something as spontaneous and voluntary as new media art) so what about we go back to the drawing board and just decide GOOD ART IS GOOD ART NO MATTER WHAT KIND OF CLOTHES SOMEONE LIKES TO WEAR AND WHAT THEY HAVE UNDER THEM
i'm sry, but you lost me at "vagina barrier".
i'm sry, but u lost me at being condescending for no reason
sowwy, u lost me at 'im 15'
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).
modification of a GIF posted by seamonkey
symmetrical version (hat tip GucciSoFlosy)
Charles Stross on what he thinks Amazon's e-book strategy is. Essentially a combination of monopoly on the consumer side and monopsony on the publisher side, all having to do with using the Kindle as a bottleneck. Frak that, I will consume landfill paperbacks for my few remaining years on earth but the statistic is chilling that e-books have gone from 1% to 40% of the market in five years. So here's Stross' prognostication on what the big six publishers are going to have to accept:
DRM on ebooks is dead. (Or if not dead, it's on death row awaiting a date with the executioner.)
It doesn't matter whether Macmillan wins the price-fixing lawsuit bought by the Department of Justice. The point is, the big six publishers' Plan B for fighting the emerging Amazon monopsony has failed (insofar as it has been painted as a price-fixing ring, whether or not it was one in fact). This means that they need a Plan C. And the only viable Plan C, for breaking Amazon's death-grip on the consumers, is to break DRM.
If the major publishers switch to selling ebooks without DRM, then they can enable customers to buy books from a variety of outlets and move away from the walled garden of the Kindle store. They see DRM as a defense against piracy, but piracy is a much less immediate threat than a gigantic multinational with revenue of $48 Billion in 2011 (more than the entire global publishing industry) that has expressed its intention to "disrupt" them, and whose chief executive said recently "even well-meaning gatekeepers slow innovation" (where "innovation" is code-speak for "opportunities for me to turn a profit").
And so they will deep-six their existing commitment to DRM and use the terms of the DoJ-imposed settlement to wiggle out of the most-favoured-nation terms imposed by Amazon, in order to sell their wares as widely as possible.
If they don't, they're doomed. And all of us who like to read (or write) fiction get to live in the Amazon company town.
I like Stross' characterization of Bezos:
...I do want to note that he came out of a hedge fund and he's ostensibly a libertarian; these aspects of his background make me uneasy, because in my experience they tend to be found in conjunction with a social-darwinist ideology that has no time for social justice, compassion, or charity. (When you hear a libertarian talking about "disruption" and "innovation" what they usually mean is "opportunities to make a quick buck, however damaging the long-term side effects may be." Watch for the self-serving cant and the shout-outs to abstractions framed in terms of market ideology.)
Paul Ford in New York writes in the style of a literate prisoner snickering at the warden:
When people write critically about Facebook, they often say that “you are the product being sold,” but I think that by now we all get that. The digital substance of our friendships belongs to these companies, and they are loath to share it with others. So we build our little content farms within, friending and upthumbing, learning to accept that our new landlords are people who grew up on Power Rangers. This is, after all, the way of our new product-based civilization — in order to participate as a citizen of the social web, you must yourself manufacture content. Progress requires that forms must be filled. Thus it is a critical choice of any adult as to where they will perform their free labor. Tens of millions of people made a decision to spend their time with the simple, mobile photo-sharing application that was not Facebook because they liked its subtle interface and little filters. And so Facebook bought the thing that is hardest to fake. It bought sincerity.
Tech blogger Lauren Weinstein can conceive a day when the prison walls tumble:
My gut feeling is that Facebook saw the shadow of a significant potential competitor forming in cyberspace, and decided to nip it in the bud -- while it was still practical to do so just by throwing a chunk of money in the appropriate direction.
But how could Instagram -- no infrastructure, no income, hardly any employees -- be a threat to the 800-pound gorilla of social networking that is Facebook?
Zuckerberg isn't my idea of a good role model, but he's nobody's fool.
He knows full well what many of us have been saying for years -- that disruptive competition on the Web can appear and grow quickly at any time, and will usually be essentially just a single click away for your current users.
The Cadillac that is Facebook looked in its rear-view mirror, and realized that the little Nash Rambler of Instagram was pulling up with surprising speed.
I like Weinstein's snide take on what Instagram is:
Instagram's core technology [is] letting people take photos, pretend to be artists by applying various filters (a capability provided by innumerable other programs and apps), then sharing the results with their so-called friends and followers...
Last night at 0-Day Art's presentation at Eyebeam, the term "net art" was bandied about as if we all knew what it was.
It could be something practiced by one of 13, or possibly 14 types of actors. (See discussion with Duncan Alexander on whether the "wtf is a net artist" list is a catalog or a shrug.)
It could also mean something different depending on when it occurred, for example:
The Josephine Bosma era (early web through the Dotcom crash). Any artist interviewed by Josephine Bosma. The heyday of Steve Dietz at the Walker Art Center, or Dia Foundation's attempt at an online gallery.
The Blogosphere era (roughly 2001 - 2007). Rhizome transitions from a ListServ to a blog. Eyebeam Reblog (now kaput). Surf clubs. YTMND and 4Chan thrive as non-blog sites. Rise of Delicious and Flickr. Livejournal, MySpace collectivize the blog model, leading to:
The Social Media era (2007 to the present). Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter. Various attempts to make networking on these giant sites "performative." Trolling and friending as bullshit relational aesthetics. The economy of liking. "Aggregation" beyond the dreams of Borges.
(hat tip Lindsay Howard for Josephine Bosma link.)
Update: Add YouTube to the blogosphere era - guess it has to go somewhere. But did anyone call themselves YouTube artists the way some people (actually) tried to call themselves twitter artists? Seems like that was more of a media creation-slash-museum misfire, a la the Guggenheim's non-paradigm shifting YouTube show.
Update 2: Since I already had net art being slung around in the Duncan convo I decided it needed to be bandied about in this post.
Have been extensively re-writing this post on Guthrie Lonergan's "Professional Berry Visuals" video for several days now.
Writing about new work is hard because it's a process of figuring out
--What do I think about the work?
--Can I say it better than I have so far?
--Can I interpret without changing the work or being too "off" from its original tone?
It's especially hard when the work is nuanced humor - you don't want to overburden it with heavy spin but you also don't want to miss any of its complexity. Don't know how well I'm succeeding but I believe this is what we need to be doing as writers (or artists "reading" other artists), as opposed to heavy Facebook users' endless navel-gazing about whether likes are affecting their art.
Update: Mild epithet removed.