Jason Spingarn-Koff wrote:
I finally made it over to the "alt.youth.media" show at the New Museum
for Contemporary Art (583 Broadway, NYC).
I applaud the concept of investigating youth culture through how it
represents itself -- through such mediums as Zines, skate board
stickers, music, video, and computer art.
However, the area which is perhaps most relevant for the RHIZOME
community -- the dark cluster of computers -- was a bit disappointing.
One of the CD-ROMS produced by "young people" asked the question, "Does
art help you with computers?" A strange question which summed up the
purpose of much of the interactive work in the exhibit: teaching
"digital media" to young people for the sake of introducing them to
This is a perfectly understandable position for a school board to take,
but the end product of many of these exercises/experiments just wasn't
that interesting. In the context of the other work in the show, the
computer seemed to be a bit of a contrived medium for self-expression.
The students must have spent so long learning *how* to make CD-ROMS that
they were left with little time to figure out *what* to say.
The "On-line Zines" were more engaging but still paled in comparison to
the hard copy Zines which are the center-piece of the show. It seems
that everyone was intrigued by the vast collection of Zines, and the
curators even provided a terrific area for "do-it-yourself" Zine-making,
complete with free computer/scanner, Xerox, paper cutters, etc. The
real-space physicality of Zines seems to be extremely important to their
success: the selection of type and paper stock; the choice of size and
format; the option to hand-color, stamp, or staple; the historical
record stamped by each Xerox machine. Can the web or CD-ROMS ever
capture these qualities?
Until digital media technology is easier to use and more affordable, I
wonder if our financially-strapped schools should encourage more
traditional (i.e. Zine-like) publishing as a means of self-expression,
and be wary of the digital hype.
Kenseth Armstead responded:
As usual, you cut to the core of the issues. I left alt.youth.media.
feeling charged. The overall un-moderated and totally blasphemous tone
of the show carried me to another level. I wanted to lose a decade or
so and jump right in. The clutter and necessary sophomoric energy
restored my zits and adolescent insecurities. This was true even of the New
Media Works. It will not be long before leagues of sassy, filthy
mouthed, expressive hooligans run the web wild. If I were not chained to
a desk I would spend a day in that show just rambling through the
It is true, however, that the New Media works there fell with a soft
thud, compared to the hard copies and installation works. Maybe there is
something in the ink of print that transports the reader. I wonder what
the analogous digital potion/scripted element is?
This leads me to question whether the New Museum has plans to follow up
alt.youth.media.? There will always be a fresh supply of raw materials.
Maybe a year or two from now the technical side of the new media zine
won't be a problem. Kids are getting computers earlier and earlier these
New media (computer bound) and old media (object oriented) productions
jousting in the same space is sometimes still not a fair competition.
I wonder what other people are thinking about alt.youth.media.'s digital
works? Or if anyone has seen the web site for the show. Is it up yet?