Surf Clubs vs 1 Minute Marxism

A specialty of the veteran Internet artists who dominate the Rhizome chatboards is a kind of instant dialectical materialism. Whenever a new form ("thesis") comes along, they resist and ridicule it ("antithesis"), then burn rubber to claim they were always already doing it ("synthesis").

This happened with the "8 Bit movement" and now the "surf club movement."

In the latter case, the race to the nebulous center can be seen on this discussion thread. A Rhizomer states that "discourse collapsed" with the "found object gamesmanship" of current practitioners. This statement is challenged. Soon another Rhizomer posits the existence of longstanding camps and claims the current movement has proven them both correct.

I am oversimplifying (conflating the surf clubs with Web 2.0) but that's the general drift of the discussion. Unfortunately you could never follow it because of another tendency of the veteran Rhizomers: the asynchronous verbal pile-on. This is accomplished in part by the tactic of replying to current comments with long arguments appended to earlier comments. An impossible hairball of words accumulates and all thought disappears to an outside observer. (It's also a bit like a Nature Channel show I saw where bees kill an invading Japanese hornet by smothering it with their bodies. Eventually the hornet's body temperature is raised and it cooks to death.)

But seriously, some interesting exchanges can be teased out of the hairball and I plan to post some of them with afterthoughts, in the coming weeks, prior to the Net Aesthetics 2.0 panel at the New Museum. I hope to talk about my own work vis a vis Net Art 2.0 but it will be good to have some of these arguments in mind.