As a giveaway for dues-paying members, Rhizome.org is offering a downloadable archive of... drumroll... Ryder Ripps' Facebook account.
There is bad hagiographic writing and there is wrong hagiographic writing. Joanne McNeil manages a little of both here:
In the recent issue of Bomb magazine, Geoff Dyer in conversation with Jonathan Lethem, says his short book on the film Stalker was once conceived as a text that could be read in "real time… approximately the time it took the film to unfold." Likewise, Ryder Ripps's "Ryder Ripps's Facebook" is comment on the passage of time. (1) It includes every message sent and received, every image, every wall posting and his full list of friends, in addition to all other shared content. Rather than an invitation for scandal, the work could be interpreted as a moment in time preserved and captured, providing a temporal shift — we do not so often read our own messages from 2006, but a work like this invites us to explore the past. (2)
Over email the artist told me the appropriate tagcloud for the work might be, "Facebook, purekev, time, social media, work in the age of fun, friends as art, art as activity, download, delete, temporal history, privacy through rigor, celebrity, self infatuation, self as file, self as mediation, mediation/meditation, theft, lineage in the age of anonymity, laziness, ready made." It's a response to PureKEV, Kevin Bewersdorf's performance that over the course of three years, diminished the size of a gif of a sparkling white light until it's hardly visible on the website, while in the meantime he removed the rest of his work from the web. (3) "Ryder Ripps Facebook," as interactive epistolary nonfiction, provides a frozen moment, contra to the nature of the web, which is constant flux. (4)
1. This isn't the same at all. There is no meta-commentary about Ripps' Facebook dump that takes the same amount of time to peruse--it's just the archive itself.
2. How are we invited? Isn't this the same as looking at someone's vacation photos?
3. So it's a "response" because Bewersdorf took down all his data and Ripps is leaving his up? Ripps isn't deleting his Facebook, is he? [Update: A reader says he did - this could be clearer - deleting old posts or quitting Facebook? ]
4. How does one "interact" with Ripps' archive, beyond downloading it and reading it? What is special about a "frozen moment"? The Net abounds with mothballed websites.
Update: Revisions in progress.
Update 2: Rhizome links just keep on breakin' - the one I had for The Download was changed to http://rhizome.org/the-download/2011/nov/ after I posted this. Thanks to the reader who emailed about it. Just in case it changes again, here's their teaser post for the Ripps Download, which tantalizes with the come-on that "The viewer is invited to explore all of Ripps's Facebook activity, exposing some of the most intimate and private information." Yow. For those just joining us, this idea came about because Facebook (after much bad press) made the lordly gesture of offering users the ability of saving all their own posts, messages, etc, as a single download. Ripps is making "his" download available as a found object type gesture.
Update 3: Ripps has deleted his FB account, and offers the data as a "gold account" on his personal site.
Update 4: And yes, I knew the Facebook Gold account was a six-month old joke. Jeebus. Maybe with Ripps out of FB he'll have to start making regular jokes. Here's an idea: I'm gonna start making Word Press gags and snickering when you don't get them.
Update 5: See follow-up comment to Rhizome.
Update, Nov. 14: Am told that Ripps has reactivated his Facebook account. The precise, art historical term for this is "lame."