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Image: Dan Proops, Caravaggio, Censored, 2007


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Patrick May 7 years, 10 months agoReply

"Hawaiian-shirted IT dudes"

Ouch, that sounds like me!

michael Connor 7 years, 10 months agoReply

But, "More money than taste"? If only!

MTAA 7 years, 10 months agoReply

It's rare in art criticism that a critic highlights a show or artist just to smack 'em down.

I like it.

've had very, very similar ideas to this – specifically an update to L.H.O.O.Q. with the face pixeled out – but either through laziness or some other factor never got around to making 'em. Guess I'll forget about those ideas now ;-)

Paddy Johnson 7 years, 10 months agoReply

Yea, I probably could have been more specific with the unicorn landscapes, hackerism, and one trick pony art boing boing posts as "art pablum". Proops bothers me because his painting actually seems to be going from awful to even more awful. "Painting Downloading: Please wait, is pretty facile, but "humorously" censoring the genitals of a classical painting, or whatever else he's interested in as a means of social commentary, is utterly infantile.

Tom Moody 7 years, 10 months agoReply

MTAA:
Re: your "liking" artist smackdowns.
That's funny, when I discussed Cory Arcangel's Team show on my blog a while back one of you was very concerned about criticism destroying an artist's market.
I guess it depends on who is doing the smacking and who's getting smacked.

T.Whid 7 years, 10 months agoReply

Just for the record, I think there should be more objective criticism in the art world.

But if a negative review is directed at me, I'm not going to like it. So yes, of course it depends on who's smacking and who's getting smacked. I don't see how an artist could see it any other way.

+++

At no time did I say that critics should shut up in order to protect an artist's market. That is total bullshit.

I'm angry that you forced me to go back through your very unorganized blog to find the comments you are characterizing negatively here.

Here's the thread:
http://www.digitalmediatree.com/tommoody/comment/41091/

People can make their own decision about what I said, but here's some actual quotes not the BS you're trying to put in my mouth:

"Everyone should feel free to publicly give their opinion on an artist's work. But be prepared to defend your remarks and don't expect the artist to be happy about it. I'm just stating the obvious…"

"The critic's purpose is to crit & publish those crits. The artist's purpose is to create and exhibit those creations (and sell them). The critic may hinder the artist's purpose. When that happens, the artist isn't happy… is that a surprise?"

"Of course critiques can sometimes be helpful, but public critiques of an artist attempting to market their work? The negative probably outweighs whatever positive comes of it. I suppose that's to be judged on an individual basis. I'm not accusing critics of being hostile, just doing what they do. To me it's similar to the legal system – it's adversarial. Both critics and artists have their jobs."

At the time you tried (and failed) to characterize my remarks as somehow being against criticism. Artists are pissed by bad reviews (is this a surprise to anyone?). That's all I was saying and am completely mystified as to why there is any discussion about it.

You seem to naively think that every artist should be happy to hear everyone's opinion about their work all the time.

Tom Moody 7 years, 10 months agoReply

My digitalmediatree blog isn't unorganized–you found the exact language I was talking about.
I couldn't disagree more with these statements:

>>The critic's purpose is to crit & publish those crits. The artist's purpose is to create and exhibit those creations (and sell them). The critic may hinder the artist's purpose. When that happens, the artist isn't happy… is that a surprise?"

Artists aren't uninvolved with the process of explaining and defending their work. They write (or approve) press releases, recruit critical proponents…
Some critics are also artists, and their words are not the typical institutional "one way" argument. Especially words on their blogs.
You say the negative effect of criticism on an artist's market outweighs the positive effects of criticism.
Yet many of art movements were defined by "negative" criticism–e.g., Impressionism, Fauvism–and now have enormous markets.
You didn't say critics should shut up, nor did I say you said that.
Your words "total bullshit," "BS," and "naive" are emotional and don't contribute anything to this discussion.

Tom Moody 7 years, 10 months agoReply

Typo: "many of art movements" should read "many art movements."

T.Whid 7 years, 10 months agoReply

There is no discussion.

There's you trying to mis-characterize my remarks out of context and me vigorously setting you straight.

You said "[t.whid says] the negative effect of criticism on an artist's market outweighs the positive effects of criticism."

No I didn't. I said "I think there should be more objective criticism in the art world."

You toss out a snarky comment and then try to pretend there's a discussion taking place at some loftier level. There isn't. I see your remark about my comments on your blog as a deliberate misreading intended to make it look as if I'm against healthy discussion in the art world. It's an insult.

Why you do this, I don't know. But don't pretend that you weren't flinging some feces in my direction and act above it.

Tom Moody 7 years, 10 months agoReply

"The negative probably outweighs whatever positive comes of it"

is a direct quote from your own post. Sorry you don't want to discuss it.

MTAA 7 years, 10 months agoReply

This bit comes right after the bit you quoted: "I suppose that's to be judged on an individual basis."

Meaning, from artists individual POV a negative public crit of a current show could be worse for the artist, on a whole, than whatever enlightenment they might get from the crit. I understand the original might not be as clear as I intended, but for all the comments that came after and before, anyone that wanted to honestly construe my true meaning could have done so. But you continue to intentionally mis-characterize and quote it out of context.

Plus, even as you intentionally misread it, I tried to clarify with this: "I think there should be more objective criticism in the art world."

But you continue to harp on that one phrase.

Why do start this supposed discussion with an insult if you really want an honest conversation?

Tom Moody 7 years, 10 months agoReply

"Meaning, from artists individual POV a negative public crit of a current show could be worse for the artist, on a whole, than whatever enlightenment they might get from the crit"

But you specifically tied this to the market, not just what the artist does or doesn't get out of the criticism on a personal level.

You said that criticism "hinders an artist's purpose." I don't agree and I'm not mischaracterizing it.

T.Whid 7 years, 10 months agoReply



Moody again paraphrasing and misquoting, "[T.Whid] said that criticism 'hinders an artist's purpose.'"

No I didn't. I said, "The critic may hinder the artist's purpose."

The 'may' is important. And it's true of course, whether you agree or not.

Only a fool would say what you say I said. You seem bent on trying to portray me as one.

I'm through with your silly trolling.

Tom Moody 7 years, 10 months agoReply

I don't agree that "the critic may hinder the artist's purpose." I think criticism helps us understand artist's work, even Dan Proops'.
Readers can decide who is the troll here, T. Whid.

nathaniel stern 7 years, 10 months agoReply

pick me! pick me! I'm a troll!

Tom Moody 7 years, 10 months agoReply

Another typo, darn: "I think criticism helps us understand artists' work, even Dan Proops'. "

is what was intended.

And speaking of Proops, some thoughts:

It's hard to argue about paintings without the paintings present. It's quite possible that if Proops could paint as well as Caravaggio (or even John Currin, who's worked hard to get the old master depth and sensitivity in his rendering, making collectors go gaga), the viewer would have to deal with the fact of those painted pixels in a way that you might not seeing them at 72 dpi on a browser.

As in, "my God look at the amount of time and finesse that went into this art just to make this point about censorship or whatever." Your rational mind would be pulling you in one direction ("this is a bad idea") while your senses were pulling you in another.

It seems unlikely that the work has its ducks in a row to that degree but we could at least entertain the possibility.


Ethan Ham 7 years, 10 months agoReply

I went and looked at the BoingBoing posting about Proops. I was mildly entertained by a discussion thread argument between Proops and a user named Suedeheadabout whether Proops's work builds on Cubism.

Tom Moody 7 years, 10 months agoReply

Some afterthoughts from my blog (http://www.tommoody.us/archives/2008/04/15/dan-proops/):

Based on the jpegs (http://www.samsdesktop2.com) it looks like another case of "computer envy" where a contemporary artist working in the tried-and-true medium of paint on canvas adopts digital imagery as subject matter (a trend that arguably began with Lowell Nesbitt painting photoreal pictures of IBM mainframes (http://www.tommoody.us/archives/2007/07/17/lowell-nesbitt/) and was more recently seen in Miltos Manetas's still lifes of Playstation equipment or Wayne Gonzales's airbrushed renderings of basic Photoshop effects).

The intended tension here is between a slow, contemplative medium and a fast, disposable medium. For example, painting the browser window and scroll bars as well as the porno imagery inside that frame. Or rendering every facet of a wireframe Nefertiti model. As Ed Halter says […] this appears, from the jpegs at least, to be "quick-glance commentary on medias new and old through easy-to-get juxtapositions." That is likely the case but you can never say for sure until you see the work–there is always the possibility of a formal wow factor or something surprisingly wonderfully trashy happening in a person-to-painting encounter.

Rob Myers 7 years, 10 months agoReply

"Relational Aesthetics" argues that the techniques of traditional media are required to give critical distance when depicting digital content. Julian Opie's "Imagine…" series achieved this in the early 1990s. It's certainly not the only possible critical position. But to describe this as "computer envy" is like describing critics as jealous failed artists. It gives a certain frisson but doesn't generate very much heat, never mind light.

Nesbitt's picture doesn't look photorealistic, it looks like the illustrations in children's books explaining IT of the time. It fits into the what was by then the established Pop strategy of depicting the physical and media products of capital as if they were high genre subjects (see Hamilton's "Hommage a Chrysler Corp"). I like Nesbitt's picture but it does not depict digital imagery, it depicts an expensive and new piece of computing machinery as seen in print media. So this is not an image that has any historical bearing on Proops's work, it is not an example of that genre, and it did not start that genre.

Ken Knowlton pixellated naughty photos in the 60s using the computing technology of the time. I have forgotten more artists who paint over bits of pictures than I can remember. The history of the play of revealing and obscuring images in art is a rich one. The history of detourning and ironising high art and low media images is a long one. There is more informative art history for Proops's work to fail against the background of than Nesbitt. Apart from anything else, putting Proops's work against that background gives him something to do, he clearly knows his art history.

I may try to get to the show to see if there's any wow. Paddy is absolutely right about the yBA hangover and the apparent visual paucity of the work. I agree with MTAA about the obviousness of Proops's current work. I have censored abstracts in old sketchbooks and I have seen painted dialogs many times before. But everyone has to start somewhere. Proops's work has got a sort of Glenn Brown/Banksy ethic that could go somewhere if he pushes it. Concentrating on the digital reference points misses that.

Tom Moody 7 years, 10 months agoReply

Rob, you're being a bit selective in reducing my timeline from Nesbitt –> Proops. I did mention some other artists in there. Nesbitt isn't a very good photorealist but that was the dialog around his work in the 70s. He went on to paint giant flowers that looked like seed catalog photos but slightly more clumsy/expressive.
I'm not too concerned if "computer envy" doesn't float your boat via Proops. It is a real trend in the New York painting world at least.

Tom Moody 7 years, 10 months agoReply

I meant vis a vis and not via in the next to last sentence.

Steven Read 7 years, 10 months agoReply

Critics, Markets, Objectivity…

I am an artist who was once publicly highlighted by a critic just to be smacked down. The critic was T.Whid:
http://www.mtaa.net/mtaaRR/news/twhid/burn_in.html

At the time, Cory's piece was being marketed by a gallery, and also I'll assume was a friend/associate of critic T.Whid. My piece was not being marketed, just some outsider dude who got 15 minutes of VVORK fame with it.
http://www.vvork.com/index.php?s=screen+burn

Being the receiver of the smack attack, no I did not like it. No problem there. But I did not see it as objective. Nor did Tom:
http://www.digitalmediatree.com/tommoody/comment/39987/

This is biased, yet perhaps relevant information. It seems weird, perhaps unfair, to deductively quote/link blogs as if they were official archives of thought/action. Yet I did.

MTAA 7 years, 10 months agoReply

Hi Steven Read,

I have to ask, is there something wrong with me not being objective?

Did I make someone some promises I don't remember?

I'm an individual like yourself. I don't speak for anyone other than myself and I say what I like. Everything I type is my opinion. There is no objectivity.

Cheers.

Steven Read 7 years, 10 months agoReply

Sure - be nonobjective! I'm all for it. Say whatever comes to mind, wherever. But perhaps I made the mistake of thinking you were acting as 'critic' on your aforementioned mtaarr blog post. And then you said this:

"Just for the record, I think there should be more objective criticism in the art world."

and now this:
"Everything I type is my opinion. There is no objectivity."

If I am to believe you were acting as critic, then these viewpoints are opposed. Thus you must not have been acting in this case as critic… perhaps as artist, or blogger, or person… in which case there need be no objectivity. But it sure seemed like you were critiquing art.

I say all kinds of crap here, or on my blog, but I wouldn't say that I try to act as critic. I act as artist.

T.Whid 7 years, 10 months agoReply

Yes. You were mistaken. What does 'acting as a critic' mean anyway? I may be critical of things, but that doesn't mean I'm doing anything but giving my opinion.

I think the art world needs more critical or objective reviews – not saying they're going to come from me.

Steven Read 7 years, 10 months agoReply

Oh yeah, brush-off. I am having a hard time being analytical/conclusive about Proops painting(s) without seeing them in person. Yet I will admit that I liked Halter's initial 'smack down' tone, but that might be too easy.

Tom Moody 7 years, 10 months agoReply

A friend thinks I need to address this observation of Rob Myers':

>>Nesbitt's picture doesn't look photorealistic, it looks like the illustrations in children's books explaining IT of the time. It fits into the what was by then the established Pop strategy of depicting the physical and media products of capital as if they were high genre subjects (see Hamilton's "Hommage a Chrysler Corp"). I like Nesbitt's picture but it does not depict digital imagery, it depicts an expensive and new piece of computing machinery as seen in print media. So this is not an image that has any historical bearing on Proops's work, it is not an example of that genre, and it did not start that genre.

Response:

The painting is 205 x 205 cm (6.5 x 6.5 feet) so "children's book" is probably not the connotation that sprung to mind when the work was first seen hanging in show of "media products." Hard to say, we're talking about a jpeg, but yes, definitely Pop, which is where photorealism or hyperrealism came from.

As for whether a picture of a computer is "digital imagery," obviously it isn't and Rob is nitpicking–taking my term "computer envy" and creating his own frame for it: "To be a precedent for Dan Proops you must have had to do "pixelation" or imagery made with a computer to be envious of the computer."

My frame was Nesbitt, Manetas, Gonzales, Proop: painters who have a universe of possible subjects to paint: fruits, the home, attractive young people, war, landscapes, cityscapes, etc. but choose computers and their products and byproducts because they feel that is important subject matter.

I call it envy because they have not made the next logical leap, which is to walk away from the painting studio and make the art with the thing they are so interested in.

I hope this clarifies where I am coming from.

Tom Moody 7 years, 10 months agoReply

Clarification of the clarification (a post on this may be necessary, with pictures): Manetas has made art with the computer, but the work he got known for, at Postmasters, was paintings of computer gear. NY painters referencing "the computer or computer imagery": Michael Zahn, Shirley Kaneda, Jeff Elrod, Torben Giehler, Carl Fudge…

Tom Moody 7 years, 10 months agoReply

That is, painters exhibiting in NY in the last decade…

Paddy Johnson 7 years, 10 months agoReply

Having read this conversation through a few times, it is not my impression that any one was trying to deliberately misread comments made. I have however, noticed a reluctance on the part of both parties to acknowledge that the other might have a point.

To my mind, it's quite understandable that T. Whid might feel attacked, but also quite reasonable that his statement "Of course critiques can sometimes be helpful, but public critiques of an artist attempting to market their work? The negative probably outweighs whatever positive comes of it. I suppose that's to be judged on an individual basis." might have ruffled a few feathers a while ago, and need to be revisited (I'm not going to bother with the rest of the quotes since this was the original bone of contention). The point that seems to be unclear in this conversation is whether "critiques of artists marketing their work" = pre-reviews of unseen/yet to be opened shows, or reviews in general. I can't tell from the original thread how it was meant; I had originally assumed the former, based on previous threads at digital media tree, and because the latter sounds as though T. Whid isn't in favor of criticism, which doesn't make any sense because he's already said he thinks it has value, even though he isn't likely to personally enjoy it. (Perhaps you can clarify this issue T. Whid?)

This may or may not be relevant, but my own position on the question of the fairness of pre-reviews: I'd bet negative ones aren't all that helpful to the artist which is one of the reasons why they are typically avoided, but too much hoo-haa in their favor can be annoying too, even if there's a relationship there. The binary set up here though, doesn't take into account that there are more people involved than just the critic and the artist. While Cory Arcangel may not have benefited from threads evaluating upcoming shows, a large number of people did. For this reason, I see more good than harm came out of the discussion.

Regarding the formal characteristics of Proops painting: As Tom points out, it's hard to know too much about the "wow" factor that may or may not be present in these paintings, with a jpeg, but my educated guestimation tells me that the technical proficiency is reasonable, but not exceptional. Places that give me pause are the artist's treatment of the feet, and drapery, which looks stylized out of necessity as opposed to the rationed choice of an accomplished painter. The lack of investment in the subject matter as a whole though, to my mind almost entirely negates the chance of a wow factor. Unless it was somehow "self-aware awful", (which given the artist's thoughts in interview is entirely unlikely - http://www.creativereview.co.uk/crblog/desktop-dan/), I can't imagine being able to sustain interest in this work for any length of time.

Rob Myers 7 years, 10 months agoReply

I am not "nit picking".

The scale is unimportant. Pop blows things up, that was 1/3 of Warhol's toolbox. Nesbitt's imagery and apparent technique were my point of reference, not the scale of his work. Nesbitt's moonshot paintings are more relevant to Proops's work because they deal with the image-making potential of technology and how that relates to society.

If "computer envy" is the only link between Proops and Nesbitt's work it is a very, very weak concept. I am not trying to misdescribe it as digital imagery; I wrote that Nesbitt does not paint digital imagery (…where Proops does) in order to point out the problem with the concept of "computer envy" for describing anything useful that links the work.

Painting provides a different point of reference when considering digital imagery (or if, we must get confused, the hardware and software and associated cultural imagery of computing machinery) pace Relational Aesthetics (the book) or Art & Language (post-1980) or Joy Garnett or… I'm sure there are painters who are unreflectively trying to produce what will sell to our new media overlords, and in contrast I know there is good reflexive computer art, but there's also a tradition of critical distance in art and art criticism that doesn't confuse technics with subject matter.

Tom Moody 7 years, 10 months agoReply

Rob,
I didn't say "computer envy" was the only link between the two bodies of work.
You might recall that up to that point in the discussion the frames for the discussion were "Boing Boing artist," "tiki bar kitsch" and "YBA hangover." I wanted to introduce at least another possible lineage for the work, and also introduce the idea that materiality, presence, and scale might alter our reading of it since we were all talking about jpegs.
I get the sense that you would be perfectly happy to only talk about jpegs as long as we could frame it in the good ol' Art & Language way of talking about things. And that's cool–knock yourself out.
I was being devil's advocate for the work, but I can't be an advocate.
Like Paddy and Ed and T.Whid (if I can presume to guess why he seconded Ed), I suspect that it's butt-awful in person. The jpegs are beyond stupid (too literal, obvious, etc)
In fairness to the painters I mentioned, many are doing important work and aren't just producing for their overlords. I am much closer to them than I am to you and would never say something as blinkered as "scale is unimportant."
Paddy, I will address your comments in another post (or comment).

Tom Moody 7 years, 10 months agoReply

Paddy:
A brief recap of the Tom/T.Whid fight history (simplication is not attempt to mischaracterize and I'm not in this for personal spite):
You reviewed Cory's Team show and had some critical but supportively worded things to say.
I seconded you on my blog and added some thoughts.
Commenters came on my blog and said I was hostile, nay, the only voice of hostility in an otherwise Coryphilic world.
I said calling me hostile wasn't productive.
T.Whid said you have to expect people will be mad because of the reasons you quoted above.
I interpreted this as saying that the criticism of Cory's show wasn't valuable–otherwise why defend the accusations of hostility?
Then suddenly T.Whid pops up months later cheering on the unmitigated smackdown.
I made fun of that and T.Whid exploded in curses and personal invective.
If T.Whid will concede that my criticisms of Cory were not rooted in personal hostility or a desire to hinder his career then we have no argument.

MTAA 7 years, 10 months agoReply

To quote myself:

"I'm not accusing critics of being hostile, just doing what they do. To me it's similar to the legal system – it's adversarial. Both critics and artists have their jobs."

emphasis added

from here:
http://www.digitalmediatree.com/tommoody/comment/41091/

Why do you continue to harp on this thing?

Steven Read 7 years, 10 months agoReply

Rob, with painting I think scale is important! But of course just one element.
Tom, I think "computer envy" is perfect coinage. I suppose the reverse is what I sometimes have in my work (painting envy).
TWhid, I think its gotten (wonderfully) complex with all the hats an artist on the net wears. One drifts between artist, publicist, critic, curator… back and forth, minute by minute. It is not easy to tell which/when, which may cause confusion. Or one could say, as I will, that I'm only 'artist' while online, but that might be bull sheeeeeiiiiit.

nathaniel stern 7 years, 9 months agoReply