Required Reading

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This PDF is to serve as an extended statement of artistic purpose and critique of our contemporary relation to objects and images in Post-Internet culture. More than anything, it poses a survey of contemplations and open questions on contemporary art and culture after the Internet.

“Post-Internet Art” is a term coined by artist Marisa Olson and developed further by writer Gene McHugh in the critical blog “Post Internet” during its activity between December 2009 and September 2010. Under McHugh's definition it concerns “art responding to [a condition] described as 'Post Internet'-when the Internet is less a novelty and more a banality. Perhaps ... closer to what Guthrie Lonergan described as 'Internet Aware'-or when the photo of the art object is more widely dispersed [&] viewed than the object itself.” There are also several references to the idea of “post-net culture” in the writings of Lev Manovich as early as 2001.

Specifically within the context of this PDF, Post-Internet is defined as a result of the contemporary moment: inherently informed by ubiquitous authorship, the development of attention as currency, the collapse of physical space in networked culture, and the infinite reproducibility and mutability of digital materials.

Post-Internet also serves as an important semantic distinction from the two historical artistic modes with which it is most often associated: New Media Art and Conceptualism.

New Media is here denounced as a mode too narrowly focused on the specific workings of novel technologies, rather than a sincere exploration of cultural shifts in which that technology plays only a small role. It can therefore be seen as relying too heavily on the specific materiality of its media. Conceptualism (in theory if not practice) presumes a lack of attention to the physical substrate in favor of the methods of disseminating the artwork as idea, image ...

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From the Archives

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In 1993 Howard Rheingold wrote a remarkable book called The Virtual Community. In this book he gives what might best be called a personal account of the expanding culture of people communicating via computer networks. I asked him some questions about the relationship between virtual and traditional communities, most appropriately, via e-mail.

Howard Rheingold has been publishing books and articles on computer culture for many years. He is the multimedia columnist for Publish magazine and editor of Whole Earth Review. He has also been a consultant to the US office of Technology Assessment, and recently he took charge of Planet Wired a network project that will document the digital revolution with local examples, made accessible via the Net to a world-wide audience.

More than merely informative, his book The Virtual Community is above all a highly personal account of the way in which people are using computer networks as communication devices, or rather how they are engaging in Computer Mediated Communication (CMC), the term Rheingold prefers. Rheingold maintains that Computer Mediated Communication creates a new sense of community; people from around the world are linked together in public discussions, people who exchange ideas and messages, share interests and work together, outside of the constraints of geographical space and across social barriers.

In his book he provides us with a somewhat formal definition of virtual communities, which he describes as “social aggregations that emerge from the Net when enough people carry on those public discussions long enough, with sufficient human feeling, to form webs of personal relationships in cyberspace”. Rheingold has himself been actively involved in one of the early network communities in the US, The Well, based in San Francisco.

Using networking technologies within the context of traditional geographic communities produces Community Networks. I began by asking Rheingold to explain ...

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Elements of Vogue: A Conversation with Ultra-red

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Ultra-red is an activist art group founded in 1994. The group proposes an alternate model for art and activism, one in which it is not the artist's critical intervention that serves as the source of cultural action, but rather that art might contribute to and challenge the process of collective organization and relationship building itself.

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Mister Modularity: Vittore Baroni, TRAX, And Network-As-Artwork

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The concept of networked art, or art which relies on exchange and collaboration across great geographical distances, has had a rich history prior to the Internet's first rumblings (and is now, fittingly enough, being archived, reappraised, and 'blogged' all over that same Internet.) Unlike the "one to many" presentational modes of the museum, shop, or gallery, networked art pieces were comparatively intimate "one to one" experiences, absorbed by one recipient at a time. Whether we call the collected efforts of this culture "mail art," "correspondence art," or simply "networking," its history is unlike other 'art historical' narratives, insofar as few people feel qualified to act as a spokesperson for the admittedly varied intentions of other networked artists: there is an almost universal reluctance to promote oneself as the "head" of anything in this culture. Especially on the European continent, where the most radical art collectives (e.g. Surrealism) have splintered into warring factions while under the mismanagement of paranoid leaders, no one is particularly eager to waste their otherwise productive time on internecine squabbling about whom deserves what title. So, in these situations, those who are just the most enthusiastic about their work, and its place in a larger creative milieu, end up becoming "ambassadors" by default.

One such ambassador, Vittore Baroni, is an individual who makes introductory biographical surveys like this one such a daunting task: his work spans every conceivable medium from rubber stamps and "artistamps" [mock-'official' postage stamps] and stickers to novel fashion items, and his tastes run the gamut from sublime atmospheric music to graphics exhibiting an exaggerated 'comic book' sense of humor and horror. Other than a general disregard for the taxonomy of art genres, the defining characteristic of Baroni's artwork is the nurturing of paradox and contradiction (he tells me that "[the term] 'paradoxical' is for me a great compliment, and a very positive adjective.") However, I may be getting ahead of myself here, since Baroni disavows the word "artist" entirely. In an early manifesto for his TRAX 'networking project,' co-founded with Piermario Ciani and Massimo Giacon, Baroni demurs "we are not artists, because art is a word that means everything and nothing," and proceeds to apply this to more clearly defined creative categories: "we are not musicians, but we create sounds. We are not actors, but every once in a while we get on a stage. We are not writers or publishing houses, but we can print our own writings." So what exactly is Baroni - and who are "we"?

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Required Reading

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Marina Abramović, view of The Artist is Present at the MoMA. Photo: C-Monster.

Inevitably, the fast pace of consumerism is accompanied by the tantalizing promise of slow time—Allen Ginsberg once complained of a heart attack en route to his weekly meditation.

Just as the arts were reinvented in the age of the camera, so too must they be in the age of accelerated time. If the internet and the touch screen represent the apparatuses of our age, then the material and the prolonged have become a niche for the discursive and formal role of the arts. Much like a spa, the arts play host to a malnourished subject eager to experience something nostalgically other. Slow time and tangible bodies become so rare experientially that their aesthetic value finds a home in the cul-de-sac of scarcity that is art.

Since the advent of mechanical production, the arts have been the space in which the hard-to-find seeks refuge. And while the art market has been much discussed, we now find another form of scarcity in forms of experience. At times in tension, at times in collusion with capitalist scarcity, the scarcity of experience encourages forms of art that are not as easily distributed as—and thus more distinguishable from—the mass produced goods of the broader market. Massive installations, sculptures, performance, civic institutions (the museum), time-based relational aesthetics all find value in their experiential distinction from larger markets. Museums offer special opportunities to experience the body in space. In this spasmodic era, we find the arts recalibrated as a temporal, spatial, and bodily escape.

This kind of shifted aesthetic disposition resists not only the pace of the information economy, but, perhaps more importantly, our very ability to consume our experience. If we are frantic, it is only because we need to ...

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A Report from Repair: Ars Electronica 2010

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The theme of Repair for this year’s Ars Electronica festival was apropos, as the festival moved to the Tabakfabrik, a former cigarette factory and sprawling complex of buildings that was churning out cartons of Marlboros as recently as last year. The smell of tobacco was still heavy in the air, and evidence of the factory’s work continued to linger: ear plugs still available in dispensers, pneumatic tube carriers still sitting in baskets, and boxes emblazoned with cigarette logos being used as exhibition design material. The factory, which is a protected historic landmark, is beautiful and perhaps deserved a Golden Nica of its own -- for best representation of the festival theme.

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Required Reading

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Is it still necessary to define art by intent and context? The gallery world would have us believe this to be the case, but the internet tells a more mutable story. Contrary to the long held belief that art needs intent and context, I suggest that if we look outside of galleries, we’ll find the actions, events and people that create contemporary art with or without the art world’s label.

Over the past 20 years, the theory Relational Aesthetics (referred to in this essay as RA) has interpreted social exchanges as an art form. Founding theoretician Nicholas Bourriaud describes this development as “a set of artistic practices that take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context”[1]. In reality, art erroneously known to typify RA’s theorization hasn’t strayed far from the model of the 1960’s Happening, an event beholden to the conventions of the gallery and the direction of its individual creator. In her essay Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics, Claire Bishop describes Rikrit Tiravanija’s dinners as events circumscribed in advance, using their location as a crutch to differentiate the otherwise ordinary action of eating a meal as art[2]. A better example of the theory of RA succinctly put into action can be seen in anonymous group activities on the internet, where people form relations and meaning without hierarchy.

Started in 2003, 4Chan.org is one such site, and host to 50 image posting message boards, (though one board in particular, simply titled ‘/b/’, is responsible for originating many of the memes we use to burn our free time.) The site’s 700,000 daily users post and comment in complete anonymity; a bathroom-stall culture generating posts that alternate between comedic brilliance, virulent hate ...

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Interview with Jaimie Warren of Whoop Dee Doo

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Whoop Dee Doo is a kid's show, run by about 20-30 volunteers in Kansas City. The show is filmed in the style of public access television shows of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, drawing heavy inspiration from the likes of The Carol Burnett Show, The Gong Show, Pee Wee's Playhouse, You Can't Do That on Television, Mr. Wizard, Soul Train, Double Dare, public access horror show hosts like Svengoolie, and the Chicago public access program Chica-go-go. The group has put together shows around the country and internationally, from the Smart Museum in Chicago, to a holiday party at Deitch Projects, and a collaboration with Loyal Gallery in Malmo, Sweden. In each new venue they draw on local communities of performers and artists to collaborate and contribute. Performers range from musical acts and performance artists to Civil War Re-enactors, Celtic Bagpipers, Christian Mimes, drag queens, drill teams and science teachers. Kids help build the sets and make props along with artists and volunteers, and they are a huge part of the show itself. Whoop Dee Doo is intended to showcase the diversity of artistic talent within the community, and to create an opportunity for these groups to work, and party, together. Unlike many kid's shows, Whoop Dee Doo is in no way dumbed down or infantilizing, and it forms an important part of the vibrant and creative Kansas City arts community.

The show is hosted by artists Matt Roche and Jaimie Warren. Matt plays a quiet, awkward werewolf, and Jaimie is generally wearing red spandex and covered in empty food packaging. I spoke with Jaimie about the art scene in Kansas City, about working with kids and technology, and about the philosophy of Whoop Dee Doo.

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Performance, All Over the Map: On Chris Salter's "Entangled"

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Chris Salter's Entangled is a massive undertaking and a book long overdue. In this ambitious project, Salter sets out to provide a historical overview of the intersections between technology and artistic performance in order to demonstrate the profound entanglement in the historical trajectories of both sets of practices and developments. Entangled seeks to address how technological developments have altered our making and perception of artistic performance and the socio-political, cultural and economic contexts of such developments (p. xiii). Furthermore, Salter understands the histories of new media arts, theater, and other stage-based artforms as divided in a tension between the technophilic and technophobic, and his investigation is an attempt to fill this gap.

Peter Sellars describes, in his Foreword to the book, Salter's approach as radically inclusive. Indeed, Salter sets out to frame an impressively diverse range of practices as performance. Those practices include, but are not limited to, theatre, opera, scenography, architecture, video art, installations, environments, sonic arts, robotics, media arts, live and body art, expressions of popular culture such as music gigs, and more. Entangled consists of eight chapters, each focusing on a different form. This distinction is not designed to separate disciplinary trajectories though; instead, it challenges disciplinary boundaries through its fluid narrative that consistently foregrounds intersections, crossovers and common histories.

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New from dump.fm

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A few months ago, we published a statement by dump.fm co-founder Ryder Ripps on the image-only chatroom, which had just been launched. Since then, the site has taken off big time. See below for some gifs from two ace memes to emerge from dump.fm - Sloth Goth and Deal With It. dump.fm have also instituted a Hall of Fame for other gems produced by users as well as an image vortex which visualizes the images dumped to the site in real time.



Deal With It

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Sloth Goth

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