tom moody

Archive for the ‘general’ Category

from brand-brand to art-brand (more on michael manning)

Thanks to Michael Manning for the shout and Lindsay Howard for noting my (doomed) attempt to give context to his paintings -- the occasion is this Rhizome interview of the former by the latter, published yesterday.

In January last year I wrote this about Manning:

[His] recent images consist of touchscreen paintings with menu-selected brushes, textures and hues; am guessing these are "augmented finger paintings" and not done with a stylus. He has made them on the iPad as well as with Windows 8 demo screens inside the Microsoft Store [alien country for the Apple-brainwashed creative elite -- obligatory dig --ed.]. The buildup of color, washes, and calligraphic line in digital gesture painting can be seductive but let's remember the original AbEx artists also employed cinematic scale, gloppy physical media, and the athleticism of pushing the glop around with long-handled brushes. They would have laughed to see people making micro-movements on a TV screen and then saving them as jpegs and PNGs. The "action painting" model has been pretty thoroughly discredited but those are the reasons it's in museums, at any rate. Am possibly more interested in Manning's steady output of tiny de Kooningesque and Twomblyesque color-spasms as performance-cum-notation having to do with "available technology" and the instant masterpieces "apps" promise to deliver than some electronic de-reification of the earnest Real of gestural abstraction, although both motivations might be present. Also they are pretty, and it's always good to annoy the Marxist art-as-hair-shirt crowd.

The next day Brian Droitcour covered the same work for Rhizome but couched it more in terms of brands and corporate colonization of the web. Essentially he said that Manning is post-brand in not restricting his work to a single "silo." Yet both of us mentioned the Microsoft Store -- Rhizome even ran a photo of a store exterior. That's a hook and refers to a brand even if it's an ironic joke. I ventured that the "Store" paintings were actually better than the iPad paintings and Droitcour accused me on twitter of loving Microsoft. Now Manning says we're both nitpicking because "I don't really care about brands or the branded part of any of it, I just look at them all like toys lol." (Then why did you call them... oh, ever mind.) None of this matters in the slightest to the art dealers who are currently selling printed-out versions of the paintings -- all the collector wants to know is that it's being written about in the right venues. More power to Manning for leveraging the critical vacuum to his advantage, I guess. His own reasons for doing the paintings are perfectly valid.

- tom moody

April 17th, 2014 at 9:59 am

Posted in general

twitter convo re: ADDAC wav player module

Tom Moody: ADDAC Systems damn your temperamental wav player and its proper wav order and naming syntax all to hell (much as i like this module)

Zachary Michels: I've written a Matlab script that converts WAV's and file names to put on an SD card. Let me know if you want it...

Tom Moody: Thanks - saving & naming wavs "by hand" makes me think about them more - was commenting mainly on the ADDAC player's quirks

Zachary Michels: I hear ya. I've also enjoyed surprises that come from being able to quickly and mindlessly populate an SD card with new WAV's. :)

Tom Moody: "Surprises from being able to quickly and mindlessly populate an SD card with new wavs" OK sold -- now i need to learn Matlab

- tom moody

April 14th, 2014 at 8:48 am

Posted in general

a sad boo-hoo to the google plus GIF clique

Thanks to Paddy Johnson for some recent coverage: a GIF of the Day and some quotes in her artnet article, "Will Galleries and Museums Ever Embrace Animated GIF Art?"

Threaded through these plugs are my gripes about the light weight of concepts such as GIFs of the Day, so you can't say Johnson turns a hearing-impaired ear to her critics.

The short answer to the title of the artnet piece is, "No, not if you say GIFs peaked two years ago."

I don't agree at all that "the popularity of was just beginning to fade" in 2012 -- the site is going strong even if Johnson isn't visiting -- or with most of this paragraph:

And while that mentality seems very much behind the rise of the art GIF party, sustained growth at the level seen in 2012 seems almost impossible. The community has shrunk over the years, and nobody I spoke to uses Google+ anymore. “I really do think of that first summer with Google+ as a beautiful era for GIFs,” [Anthony] Antonellis recalled. “It did something more than could,” he said, referring to the extended time users had to respond to posts. Google+ acted more like a blog than Dump’s chat room.

Antonellis belongs to the moribund Google+ GIF posse (where GIFs never looked good at all) and in his maudlin lament for the demise of that one-off proposition attempts to drag down with him. Sadly, Johnson goes along with this false narrative. It doesn't need to be stated that the GIFs of the day, week, year and decade that post like clockwork on mostly originate with, not Google+, and that the quality and energy is unabated, no matter what sad-sacks who trusted a big company to host their social experience around GIFs might say.

Update: Another G+ moaner in the article is Andrew Benson. Apparently he comes to GIFs from the film world, so you can pretty much discount what he says about art GIFs, including his statements such as "I feel like there’s not a good way to view [GIFs] in the gallery setting” and that a web browser is “a pretty terrible art viewing context.” According to who else? Benson also chimed in helpfully on Nicholas O'Brien's post about NEW INC, the art incubator: "I feel like we are in need of more experiments in survival, going outside the existing structures, and challenging assumed cultural barriers." Meaning it's OK to develop art like a product, with a venture capitalist's expectation of return on investment.

- tom moody

April 12th, 2014 at 8:11 am

Posted in general

only paypal when absolutely necessary

Wolf Richter actually read Paypal's new privacy policy and the message in the fine print is Beware.

When you get on a PayPal site or use its services, it collects “information sent to us by your computer, mobile phone or other access device.” This “includes but is not limited to” (so these are just examples): “data about the pages you access, computer IP address, device ID or unique identifier, device type, geo-location information, computer and connection information, mobile network information, statistics on page views, traffic to and from the sites, referral URL, ad data, and standard web log data and other information.”

You read correctly: “and other information” – anything it can get.

PayPal also collects personal data by putting cookies, web beacons (“to identify our users and user behavior”), and “similar technologies” on your device so that you can be tracked 24/7 even if you’re not using PayPal’s services, and even if you’re not on any of its sites.

Wait, “similar technologies?” By clicking on another link, you find out that they include pernicious “flash cookies,” newfangled “HTML 5 cookies,” and undefined “other web application software methods.” Unlike cookies, they “can operate across all of your browsers.” And you can’t get rid of these spy technologies or block them through your browser the way you get rid of or block cookies. You have to jump through hoops to deal with them, if they can be dealt with at all.

In addition, PayPal sweeps up any information “from or about you in other ways,” such as when you contact customer support and tell them stuff, or when you respond to a survey (Just Say No), or when you interact “with members of the eBay Inc. corporate family or other companies.” Yup, it sweeps up information even when you interact with other companies!

It may also “obtain information about you from third parties such as credit bureaus and identity verification services.” And it may “evaluate your computer, mobile phone or other access device to identify any malicious software or activity.” So they’re snooping around your devices.

And when you download or use PayPal’s apps to your smartphone, or access its “mobile optimized sites,” it collects location data along with a host of other data on your mobile device, including the unique identifier that ties it to you personally in order to manipulate search results and swamp you with location-based advertising “and other personalized content,” or whatever.

After vacuuming up all this information “from or about you,” PayPal will then “combine your information with information we collect from other companies” and create a voluminous, constantly growing dossier on you that you will never be able to check into.

Who all gets your personal information that PayPal collects? You guessed it.

This is dire.

- tom moody

April 9th, 2014 at 8:57 am

Posted in general

eat my windows

With Microsoft you get the nerd in the blazer and with Apple you get the annoying hipster but they're both horrible.
A few words on Microsoft's ending of security updates for Windows XP yesterday.
Microsoft loves to say XP's a twelve year old operating system, as if that's a persuasive reason to stop supporting it.
Ars Technica estimates it's on the devices of "28 percent of the Web-using public." Cutting this percentage loose will increase malware and botnets.
Also, consider this scenario:
A person buys a PC in April 2009 for professional audio production. His Windows options are XP and Vista. Vista is buggy for audio production so the sales staff recommends XP.
Five years later, Microsoft cuts off support for XP and recommends, as an alternative, buying a newer PC.
This is planned obsolescence, supposedly a bad thing honest companies don't do.

- tom moody

April 9th, 2014 at 8:43 am

Posted in general

a kickstarter sucker born every minute

Barry Ritholtz on the Facebook purchase of Oculus VR (maker of virtual reality headsets or something equally '90s-retro stupid):

What did the KickStarter funders of Oculus get? Note I use "funder" and not "investor," because investors have a potential for an investment return. These funders, who backed the company three months after the JOBS Act passed, did not. As the Journal noted, they were promised “a sincere thank you from the Oculus team.” And, for $25, a T-shirt. For $300, the dangle of “an early developer kit” including a prototype headset. Total money raised: $2.4 million from 9,500 contributors.

Talking people out of $2.4 million dollars in exchange for zero percent equity is a perfectly legal scam. Then selling the company for $2 billion dollars is simply how this particular crowdfunding works.

- tom moody

March 26th, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Posted in general

unexamined GIF of the day

This Anthony Antonellis GIF was Art F City's "GIF of the Day," but why? It's kind of the standard blitzkrieg of data: approximately 50 GIFs, represented by only a few frames each, that move in space as well as time. But the spatial movement isn't particularly noteworthy -- it goes diagonally down, straight up, diagonally down, and straight up. An uninspiring zigzag gesture, filling up space as it goes. The frames go too fast for the mind to absorb, even on repeat viewings, but we see some obvious net-ish signifiers: Britney, QR code, alien head, a Francoise Gamma (?) gif. What are we left with? More noise, more useless information, dazzling but ultimately joyless.

Some have declared GIFs "over" and yet, this trend never got much of an intelligent airing. There were a few essays, and the show Art F City did where some yelling occurred after one of its premises was churlishly questioned by a participating artist. The point was to have some critical traction for these slippery modern ephemera. Not sure if "GIF of the Day" or ladder competitions do that.

- tom moody

March 25th, 2014 at 9:27 am

Posted in general

rhizome telethon notes

Corinna Kirsch and Paddy Johnson liveblogged yesterday's portions of the fundraising telethon (which is still in progress overnight) and Kirsch raised a question about my segment, specifically regarding an artist's use of Google. Just for clarification, here's a link to the text I was reading aloud (the slightly smoother blog version) about a Javier Morales post on Nasty Nets. Petra Cortright showed this Morales post when we did the Net Aesthetics 2.0 panel in 2008. Thanks to Kirsch for her notes and commentary. At 12:38 pm EST she wrote, about my reading of my Rhizome comments aloud: "Funny that comments originally thought of as vitriolic seem tame when read aloud from a binder. I’d like to see all these comments in a book." She also noted: "Rhizome’s Zachary Kaplan asks if reading the old comments brings up old emotions at the time. Tom says it actually does come back in a 'horrible rush.'" Kaplan also asked if I workshopped the comments before posting them -- if only.
Rhizome's editor Michael Connor preceded me as a telethon presenter and wrote this post, while the camera was rolling, during his hour of screen time. Once I got home and had a chance to read it, I replied in the comments to his thoughts about comments. Both he and Kirsch note the sad passing of the comment torch from blogs and/or listServs to "social" (meaning Facebook and Twitter).
As of this writing, Rhizome is only about $700 short of its $20,000 fundraising goal -- you could still kick in.

Twitter feedback:

@tommoody is holding a bounded media object live on #rhizome (let's unpack that joke: UmThatsMyLuggag connected someone's phrase from that 2008 panel to this binder):

new daytime drinking game, everytime @tommoody sez "blogger" take a drink (Nicholas O'Brien -- wish I could have)

Update: Kirsch also noted that the sound was intermittent -- I watched some of the YouTube later and confirmed. In case you were following and my voice cut out just as several carefully developed lines of argument were coming together into a piquant punchline, the comments can all be read here.

- tom moody

March 20th, 2014 at 5:42 am

Posted in general

comment-reading for Rhizome telethon


Tomorrow, March 19, 2014, at noon EST I'll be doing a reading for's annual community campaign. The fundraiser takes the form of a 24 hour telethon of streaming video that runs from 11 am on the 19th to the same time on the 20th. Guest fundraisers have one-hour slots. Go to the Rhizome front page for the stream. [Schedule]

Have been an indefatigable commenter on the site for years, and veteran of new media slugfests where I go down swinging amidst a pile of bodies. Will be reading these comments aloud for an hour: on twitter I described it as "part poetry, part filibuster." To give you a flavor of the ordeal, please see the photo above, that's five-plus years of my Rhizome comments printed out, single-sided -- the tree-killer version. The flags are for ones that might work as "stand-alone" writing, as opposed to long strings of back-and-forth dialogue.

Will probably take breaks to sip water and hector viewers to donate. The goal is $20,000 and the total's currently at $13K.
Why contribute? Here's what I wrote last year:

Notions of "net art" and "new media" change over time and we have nothing like a consensus on whether these even exist. Still, the idea of a digital commons where this can be hashed out has merit.
Rhizome's relationship with a museum (the New Museum in NYC) adds a provocative element to the mix: the possibility of institutional legitimacy or illegitimacy makes people genuinely angry, whereas in most digital situations the appearance of democratized crowdsourcing gives every decision a layer of cottage cheese affability.
My own writing about Rhizome was described last year by an AFC attack ninja as venomous when at the most it was mildly critical (it's all available for perusing if you want to have a venom hunt). The same ninja said my writing about Rhizome impeded Rafael Rozendaal's career!
The escalation of mild to venomous and the potential for artist career destruction would not even be considered if the attack ninja hadn't perceived something to be at stake in writing about Rhizome. This may be a strange and roundabout logic in support of donating but it's worth dollars and cents to me.

The loyal opposition can't be seen writing puff-piece paeans to the organization's improved programming; hence this reblog of last year's passive aggression.

- tom moody

March 18th, 2014 at 11:05 am

Posted in general

The Verge on teens quitting Facebook (except they aren't)


Hey, Verge, your tracking pixel is showing.
But anyway, the article in question merits a skim: an interview with Danah Boyd, author of the book It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.

If the only question you care about is "when is Facebook over" the interview comes up short. Boyd says, arrestingly, "the era of Facebook is an anomaly" and that's the quote The Verge uses for its headline but elsewhere she says "I don’t think people are quitting Facebook. There’s quitting Facebook and there’s just not making it the heart and center of your passion play," which isn't very exciting.

- tom moody

March 15th, 2014 at 8:34 am

Posted in general