Artist Profile: Jeff Baij

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It seems like artists who were actively making and showing their work online a few years ago have either started making objects and pursuing the familiar career path of the artist—gallery shows, teaching engagements, studio assistantships, grants, and so on—or they gave up and went into another field, like programming or web design. You haven’t done either of those things. You’re still making internet art. What’s that like?

its really weird brian

like really really weird

lemme give you a few reasons why my life has ended up like this, and also a few reasons why its weird

um i mean to be honest the first reason i dont show really is because being around gallery people for more than 5 or 10 minutes without being absolutely shitfaced is literally (Literally) in my top 3 least favorite things in the entire world.

teaching could be cool? i actually love the idea of molding (moulding?) young minds but how does one start this career path? maybe you can give me some pointers. even in an [ed.] if you'd like. [I think you’d have to get an MFA. But based on your answers I don’t think you’d like being in an MFA program. – BD]

assistantships are the same deal as showing- artists are gross, both mentally and physically (trust me on this, i am one) and i like making actual money

which brings me to why i dont make objects: im poor

so maybe i should apply for grants? is that how artists get money to work? i have no idea im really bad at the art thing, except that my work looks really nice and makes a lot of cute girls super happy.

ok so its weird because when im at an opening or out with new people they always say OH WHAT KIND OF ART DO U MAKE and i always say UHH I TAKE OTHER PEOPLES SHIT OFF THE WEB AND CHANGE IT A LITTLE BIT AND CALL IT ART and its awk my g, so awk.

another reason why its weird is because i get super wasted with a lot of like "cool" and "up and coming" artists on the regs and being the net guy/ coolest person in the room is like, pretty exhausting u know?

i just wanna use this space to say plz dont remove any of the swearing from the interview, ive waited a very very long time for this

also plz dont correct any spelling or punctuation, they arent mistakes (im just that cool)

also please leave the above note in the interview (also this one)

next!

For some time you’ve been posting images to your web site almost daily. What is it about the blog format that appeals to you? At least one of your full-window works, the screen-capture collection everythingustand4, also has dates attached to each part of it, and Golden Rock, while it lacks timestamps, is a series of images connected by a vertical scroll. Do you think of these as distillations or excerpts of an ongoing, daily practice of making? To put it another way, how interested (or uninterested) are you in formats bigger than a single image file or blog post? Lately you’ve been posting lots of animations of rotating gems. Do you think of these as studies for a larger piece, or objects in themselves?

the main thing about the blog format is that as a little net artist (pre 2009) i would sit down and try to think of a Really Cool and Clever Idea and either get totally paralyzed because it was never Cool or Clever enough, or i would actually make it and be totally disappointed. i mean even if i DID end up loving it i was sorta like "wtf was the point of sitting around for  2 weeks of my life tortured over this thing when all that happened was like 10 ppl bookmarked it on delicious?" so i figured fuck this, i'm basically never gonna spend more than 10 minutes on something ever again, and put it on my site, shitty or no, and see how that pans out. like my thought at the time was "at least im practicing" and maybe a good BIG idea will come out of all that. it hasnt btw but whatever. another reason for the blog format is i can keep track of how many entries i make, and my original plan was to make one thing every day, which i have actually done. well, if i miss a day i make 2 the next day or whatever but if you count the amount of days between when i started the blog and count how many entries i've made its THE SAME NUMBER. and honestly i feel like that makes me unfuckwithable.

and i guess in a way that sort of answers your question about things being a study for a larger piece, i almost feel like at this point my site in its entirety is the piece, and all of the entries and collections of entries are excerpts from that larger piece, because really its all a little overwhelming to take in at once.

but also the reason for having things collected together is really just as simple as wanting people to be able to access those in one place, easily. like i can say oh go to this url and you can see all of the pics i've taken of my FUCKING DISHES in one place, holla.

so at this point im really not interested in anything beyond sort of the cumulative monster that the blog has become, and a pretty front page. thats to say i'm never ever ever thinking about a larger piece, ever. i usually only think "oh god i need to make something today, i hope whatever i make doesnt suck" and then eat some eggs and get on with living my life

Some people like to talk about “deskilling” in contemporary art, borrowing a term from labor theory that describes the decrease in knowledge required from industrial workers as factory tools become more sophisticated. Certainly in digital art there is a lot of dependence on software products and their readymade effects. This is something you addressed explicitly in your series of Photoshop Tutorials, and your blog might also be viewed as a record of how you’ve acquired and discarded proficiencies with a variety of digital tools. How would you describe the place of skill in your work? Could you share some thoughts on skill in internet art more generally?

the thing about Doing Photoshop, and realistically most of the things i make, is that im usually doing something like "skill denying." look, i use photoshop a lot for my Real Job, and im really much better at making i guess what you would call "slick" images than my art lets on but i really dont care too much for slick art. wait let me start over.

when i first started getting seriously into making art on the web people were already pretty heavy into the nasty nets/doublehappiness look. the naive web look or "dirtstyle" or whatevs. like back then maybe people didnt know wtf they were doing and now they do?

anyway that look is still sorta the seed that all of my work grows from, but the problem is that naturally the longer i make art the less genuinely shitty looking it is and the more i have to fake the shitty. so you could say there is a gentle gradation from unskilled to skilled as one moves from my older work to my newer work but i try to hide that gradation as much as possible. you could also say im a poser. mostly not on purpose, it just sorta pops off that way. like the first thing i ever put on the web was also the first thing i ever made for the web.

there is the thing where if one uses the most up-to-date out of the box effect to make art then in a couple years that art is gonna seem very um, of that era. personally that's sorta terrifying. i really hope that in 20 years people dont look at my work and go OH THAT LOOKS SO 2013.

so lets say generally a person making digital art right now can have maybe not a full set of skills but maybe hide that with effects (which is not a knock btw, its actually awesome) but i prefer to hide my prodigious skills with shitty effects or shitty out of the box online image generators etc.

that isnt to say i know how to use all these awesome programs (like after effects? nah man)

ok i think that makes sense?

What’s the relationship between collecting and making in your work?

i very very very rarely start something from scratch, 95% of the time i see an image or a tool or whatever online and then a light goes off in my head and i know that i can crank out a bunch of stuff using that as a starting point. im a huge huge collector. like right now i have probably 10 tabs of different image generators and weirdo web only art tools and like a folder with about 50 images of SLIMER.

in the case of those jewel gifs you mentioned earlier, i mean i saw this jewel sellers youtube channel with literally thousands of those videos and im like "oh hell yes i could ride these well into 2020 if i really wanted to" and the blog entry problem is effectively solved (until i get bored of making jewel gifs)

the problem for me has always been that im going to screw around on the internet for 13 hours a day anyway, and as a way to justify that behavior i collect all this crap i come across. but then since im apparently an Artist and not just a Collector i would feel kinda lazy if i just put these things on my site so im all "lets throw a filter on this, ok its mine now, i made something, yay me" and i can reward myself with another drink

thats simplified but lets get real

It hasn’t been active for over a year, but The Pulse used to be an anonymous blog that made fun of works and trends in internet art. Many people seem to think that you were behind it. Why would they think this? Is it true?

it seems more likely that it was a group of people and i was just one of them, yes? but no it wasnt me sadly- im much funnier and and also im a better writer (refer to my tweets for proof of this)

also im like, a really nice dude and it would pain me to be such a shit talker

wait no im sorry i am shit talker, the reason people always thought it was me is because i did have a very public trolling period but yo i prefer people to know im the one handing out the burns ya know? its the thug in me

Age:

29 BUT ALMOST 30 :\ (maybe 30 by the time this is published)

Location:

venice, ca

How long have you been working creatively with technology? How did you start?

i was probably 7 or 8 when i started seriously fucking around with ms paint (my aunt had a pc and it was the highlight of family visits etc etc etc, everyone has this same story)

then i had a "net art" site with some high school friends probably around 99. it was on tradewinds. we were obsessed with superbad and hell.com and we made our own version of that

i would LOVE to dig out those images sometime, tumblr would flip out

Describe your experience with the tools you use. How did you start using them?

i mostly use photoshop now, i think i probably started around 95 or 96

i started with photoshop 4 if that gives you an idea of how long ago that was

now if you were to say "the internet" is my tool than also prolly 95- compuserve in ryans basement 4eva

Where did you go to school? What did you study?

i went to uarts originally for graphic design but i switched to painting when i realized i didnt like TAKING ORDERS FROM NOBODY

im a really good painter actually

ask sumbody

What traditional media do you use, if any? Do you think your work with traditional media relates to your work with technology?

right now im going really hard on sculpey/fimo so this might technically fuck up your first question about objects because indeed, they are objects

um but yeah those objects are for a series of videos im doing so nevermind, still not objects

wait does sculpey count as traditional?

Are you involved in other creative or social activities (i.e. music, writing, activism, community organizing)?

lol hell no

actually hold up there is this girl i like who is really into live music and we are really trying to write a illustrated childrens book

also twitter is creative and i guess also counts as writing. also its social. so is instagram, fb, vine, all that. follow me: DOGGIEPRIVATES

im much too selfish to be an activist and i live in venice, and believe me, that community is organized enough

wait i made bangin ass linguini w/ scallops a couple nights ago and i had to bring the full force of my creativity to bear to knock that out (AND IT WAS BETTER THAN MOST ART, TRUST)

What do you do for a living or what occupations have you held previously? Do you think this work relates to your art practice in a significant way?

i make websites and other assorted designy things for a vacation rental company and yeah i mean, i learned more about making sites there than i ever did making art

also its pretty significant because it pays me and i can use that money to buy food and eat instead of dying and if i were dead i would not be making art

Who are your key artistic influences?

well nasty nets was the first time i cared about art really and i will always be an artist in "the school of guthrie” [lonergan]

ummm i like morandi and diebenkorn a lot but you wouldnt know it by looking at my stuff

the fact is i really really dont like most art

people who put lots of stuff on the web but dont call themselves artists- they are super inspiring tho

Have you collaborated with anyone in the art community on a project? With whom, and on what?

mike manning and myself made a cool site for emilie gervais and lucy chinen's ART OBJECT CULTURE

also i made a painting for parker ito once and also helped him carry a giant block of ice another time

oh and like a year ago i told bea fremderman i would make her a music video but i think she forgot and also im lazy

i think its possible i dont play well with others in an artistic context, i dunno

Do you actively study art history?

does nick faust's facebook feed count? because thats literally the only art "history" i fuck with

Do you read art criticism, philosophy, or critical theory? If so, which authors inspire you?

no i hate theory get outta here with that garbage

im a maker baby, i use my soul

Are there any issues around the production of, or the display/exhibition of new media art that you are concerned about?

i mean yes, insofar as showing net art on a computer screen at a gallery is a terrible terrible thing and projectors arent much better

this brings us back to the object thing doesnt it, sigh

thanks brian that was really fun!

for all other inquiries i direct you to my okcupid profile: http://www.okcupid.com/profile/newgenres

(plz leave this in the interview too, k thnkx *kisses*)