Peter Plagens started it in this month's Art in America, then Kriston Capps from Grammar.Police picked it up and passed it on to Paddy Johnson of Art Fag City (and Jen Bekman, Jeffry Cudlin, Global Warming Your Cold Heart, Hungry Hyaena, Modern Kicks, and Arthur Whitman), who then passed it on to me (as well as artist Martin Bromirski of http://www.anaba.blogspot.comAnaba, editor of ArtCal Zine Bosko Blagojevic, MTAA, James Wagner and Barry Hoggard of bloggy). 'It' is a series of questions posed to a few art bloggers on the differences between art writing in blog form and other forms of art journalism. And while not all the questions are relevant to Rhizome's blog practice, in the interest of keeping it going, I thought I'd take a stab at answering at least a few of them.
What's the purpose of your blog?
In contrast to some of the other blogs that have responded to these questions, Rhizome, is at its very base, a non-profit organization. Which, in this case, means it has institutional support, members, and staff, all of whom give the organization and--by extension--this blog a strong sense of purpose. Namely, to highlight exhibitions, activities, and artists either directly or in some cases peripherally involved in the field of media art, and to be a sort of 'community amplifier' for both pioneering internet artists and emerging media artists that comprise the Rhizome community. Aside from this, I personally think what most sets Rhizome's blog apart from other contemporary art blogs is that it is located within its own history as an active and international platform for art and debate. It has a built-in audience that has for years both presented and critiqued work in the same platform. So, in short, the 'purpose' is to present new work and events, and foster dialogue, both within Rhizome's own historical context and a broader history of art (and technology).
What scope and degree of editorial control do you exercise over your blog?
As a writer I am conscious of the fact that I am writing as a representative of Rhizome. That said, I think that my views and opinions are usually in keeping with Rhizome's editorial vision. Marisa Olson, who is the site's editor (as well as curator), is a writer herself and so is very sensitive to her writer's voices (and egos) and allows us to have an individual voice within the organization. In this way though (as a space with an editor, staff writers, and the aforementioned institutional mandate), I think Rhizome's blog functions much more like traditional print media than some of these other art blogs.
What about posting comments from readers, and what about anonymity?
Given that Rhizome was born out of a heady and utopian ideal of community involvement and collective engagement, enabling comments and discussion is a huge priority. In regards to anonymity, Rhizome's artist constituents have, since its inception, subverted and played with the structure. If this means allowing anonymous posts (with a creative intent) then I think Rhizome has to allow for any and all forms of artistic expression. Although the very young blog hasn't generated too much discussion thus far, I really think this is its strength and could become one of its most vital aspects.
Do blogs help correct the geographical bias in print art criticism, i.e., the tendency to think that most of the important stuff happens in New York or Los Angeles, and the difficulty of art outside those places to get national attention?
New media art, unlike a lot contemporary art, has never been particularly located in a specific geography and I think the blog continues to reflect that. Although, as new media art is expanding into the gallery space at an increasing rate (and many of these galleries are in major art centers), a lot of what we cover on Rhizome takes place in the same medium that I'm using to write about it--the web. This is obviously a particular advantage of Rhizome's scope because not only can you view the work in the same frame as you view the commentary, but you can also link back to experience other works in an artist's oeuvre.