Outsider Definition

After the previous post on Henry Darger a friend wondered if "outsiders" can exist anymore, with the Net leveling and connecting. Sure, "outsider" now equals "someone not on the Net." But seriously, the term outsider sounds cruel and judgmental and snobby but all it means is "one who makes art heedless of a context larger than one's own computer (or studio, or computer/studio)." We can like an outsider's work as much as an insider's but it's always fair to ask "where is this coming from?"

Using that "metric" it's actually harder to identify an insider than an outsider. The same friend thought the two net art camps discussed in an earlier post possibly ignored some of the other subdivisions. Well, yes, and to heck with all of them. A type of artist exists, let's call him Patrick, who cannot describe any new artwork or art movement without giving a long summation beginning with Manet, working through Cubism, minimalism, Pop, several shades of conceptualism, and then increasingly fine gradations of "net art" to the present example and where it fits in that continuum. This is perhaps taking insider-dom to extremes.

To be an outsider you just make your work and let the historians take care of it. To be an insider all you really need to understand is what you're doing (Camp Two) and how it differs from stuff you hate (Camp One), plus some vague background knowledge of how it all fits in the history of art, which you don't need to recite every time. I had a discussion with a Camp One/Camp Two analyzer about how much depth you even need to go into explaining the camp you dislike. You don't want to dignify it with too much scholarly exegesis. As they say in politics, "if your opponent is drowning, throw him an anvil." But if you acknowledge another camp at all, and care about it, you are an insider.