IMG MGMT, part two

Over at Paddy Johnson's blog, the second installment of a summer series called IMG MGMT (do we need to spell it out?) merits a look. Artists can be obsessive picture collectors and computer archiving and web distribution have advanced this formerly secondary practice to the forefront of many careers.

The eye-as-sponge approach prevails in Claudia Wieser's enjoyable dump of art, architecture, and found photo jpegs. The viewer threads connections among curvilinear (and occasionally hard-edged) utopian modernism in many guises, from not-so-famous buildings to random street views.

One of Petra Cortright's trademark ascii-meets-new-age-crystal explosions inspires until about halfway down the page, when she begins including famous artists' work on a "rainbow" theme. The New Museum's execrable "Hell Yes" logo breaks the fourth wall, but not in a good way.

Other artists have taken narrative approaches. Michaela Melián's post isn't a collection per se but a fairly focused art-and-photo essay on Hedy Lamarr, whose career ran the remarkable gamut from glamorous film actress to inventor of a patented "frequency hopping" communications protocol with both military and civilian applications. This technique, developed with avant garde composer George Antheil (Ballet Mécanique), is a rare instance of art-for-art's-sake contributing to the world of advanced technology. By interspersing her own techno-flavored paintings and collages on a Lamarr theme, Melián brings this secular story back to the realm of art.

Jon Rafman's gathering of images from Google Street Views isn't really collecting at all but solid, groundbreaking journalism. Obviously untold hours were spent perusing this recent-but-everyday tool for images in very specific, focused categories. Photos that look like art photos, photos of mishaps, photos showing the success and failure of Google's face-blurring software, photos that show class issues in a supposedly "universal" product (the down and out are more likely to be photographed unsympathetically than the up and in). As much as one hates to see more attention paid to the monopoly that aspires to put the happy face on Big Brother, this is worthwhile, thoughtful research.