Web spinning

Posted by Rhizome | Mon Dec 2nd 1996 1 a.m.

Kenseth Armstead asked:

Where are you going with your online artwork? I am sure there are many
commercial applications but I want to know about the art you *want* to
make. How do you direct yourself? What sites inspire you?

Kristen Ankiewicz replied:

I graduated with a degree in Visual Environmental Studies and
English/American Literature from Harvard University in 1993, studying
primarily painting, photography, and poetry. I completed a thesis
illustrating my theory of reader participation in the work of art from the
point of view of the artist as well as critical reader. (That is, I'm both
the artist and the reader, my goal was to accommodate both.) I examined
"the reader" not as a type or ideal, but as an ultimately uncategorizable,
distinct person. In pursuit of understanding my own work, I examined how
the richly varied, unpredictable spectator and the visual or verbal object
-- put forth by an author with her own set of intentions -- together make
"the work of art."

My approach stemmed from a fundamental paradox: I most admire those works
that can be remade by each reader/viewer. At the same time, as producer of
art myself, I hesitate to forfeit ownership. Ultimately, I concluded that
the solution is to embrace the ideal of plurality from both positions. I
want spectators of my own work to draw their own conclusions; as a spectator
of other works, I take the same freedom; as artist, I strive to enlarge the
potentiality of the reader's experience regardless of how my artistic
intentions are received.

My fine art portfolio as well as my latest creative experiments are
exhibited at Ankiewicz Galleries (http://www.ankiewicz.com). Ankiewicz
Galleries is the focal point for my creative endeavors, a virtual space
where I can curate my own work, play out visual themes, and interact with
other artists and art-lovers. I hesitate to name my favorite site, because I
am more often inspired by reader feedback and interaction with art-fans,
engineers and designers than by any one site. I am extremely
process-oriented, and for this the Web is ideal. The Web is always a work in
progress, always mobile, always under attack and revision. I find the
personal nature of art-consumption and presentation via the Web very

My undergraduate thesis, which attempts to locate the source of meaning in a
work of art, comes close to capturing my artistic aims. I am particularly
enamored of the role of color and texture in artistic works. Color is a tool
for deviating from representation. In _Desire in Language_, Julia
Kristeva notes that "by overflowing, softening, and dialecticizing lines,
color emerges inevitably as the 'device' by which painting gets away from
identification of objects and therefore from realism"(231). Color is the
symbol of Chaos, the first introduction of disorder into an otherwise
primarily logical system of painting. The surface of colors (and textures as
well) -- noisy and nameless -- is the verbal side of painting. Yet,
language has a surface, too; language, especially in literature, is full of
references, sounds, and double meanings that elude our search for a
signified. I am drawn to Roland Barthes's observation of a third meaning,
one that hovers, indefinably, above the text (Image, Music, Text). The
meaningfulness of connotation emerges as a haze above more precisely
nameable meanings.

It is this haze, this noise that adds ambiguity to both verbal and visual
texts, that I search for in my own work. It is with readers in mind, not the
ideal reader but the possible reader, that I swim through the murky depths
of ambiguity: I want to provide a work that involves all readers, while
allowing one to grasp different meanings than another.
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