Since 2001 Rhizome has, as a major part of its programming, awarded commissions for the creation of internet-based artworks. The 2008 commissions were recently announced and the North Carolina-based artist Lee Walton was one of the deserving recipients. Walton's work humorously reframes day-to-day, somewhat banal activities as pieces of conceptual and performance art, often necessitating the participation of unwitting collaborators. In 2005 at Art in General, as part of his Experiential Project, he reversed the viewer's gaze back out to the street to decipher who was and who wasn't a part of his public 'happening,' and in my favorite of Walton's works, The Competitionist, the artist competes with innocent joggers on an outdoor track, culminating in a dramatic photo finish. This conveyance of the simple act as performance, as well as his athletic focus on endurance and duration, allude to 1960s and 70s precedents without being at all derivative. For his upcoming Rhizome commission, 'Remote Instructions,' Walton will solicit participation via the web 'and orchestrate a series of video performances that will take place in real cities, neighborhoods, villages, and towns around the world,' indicating that these participants will be fully aware of their performative potential.
Since 2001, media artist Doron Golan has been doing what no museum or institution has yet managed. He has amassed a significant collection of net art works by major artists in the field, archived at Computer Fine Arts. Furthering his prescient stewardship of the medium is a commitment to exhibition and a collaboration with Cornell University Library's Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art to preserve the work in an off-line form. The current exhibition, NETworks at the Haifa Museum of Art, in Israel, includes a small selection of works from Golan's collection which, in the words of curator Christiane Paul (who wrote for the catalog), includes projects which explore 'the fundamental qualities of net art.' But perhaps what's most impressive about Computer Fine Arts is that it represents a model for collecting and ownership entirely different from that of the hedge fund managers who are driving the current art market. In the Computer Fine Arts model, the artist retains full rights to the piece but Golan has a copy on his server and the rights to exhibit the works when and where he wants. This model reflects an understanding of the realities of digital and distributed art works and further underlines the importance of Golan's contribution to the field, not only as an artist, but also as a patron.
Walking into Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is like walking into a larger than life fine art 'cabinet of curiosities.' Commissioned in 1902 by patron of the arts extraordinaire Isabella Stewart Gardner, the museum contains her extensive and eclectic personal holdings. Gardiner's sublime jumble of art works juxtaposes decorative arts and illuminated manuscripts from across the ages with canvases by the likes of Titian, Rembrandt, and John Singer Sargent, Greek and Roman antiquities, and Asian statuary--reflecting a particular upper class Victorian sensibility. On display in the museum for the next three months, Cliff Evans's new five-channel video installation Empyrean utilizes a similar juxtaposition of disparate visual elements to reflect a contemporary American sensibility. With the internet as his source, Evans animates both militaristic and commercial images to create dramatic moving photomontages that illicit reverence, fear, and humor. Placed within the context of the Museum, his 'digital polyptych' appears like a religious altarpiece, perfectly at home among Gardiner's diverse and evocative collection.
With Brody Condon's second solo show, titled Three Modifications, opening at Virgil de Voldere Gallery in New York City this week, l thought I'd take the opportunity to do a little Rhizome-based background research. Condon, an early practitioner in the 'game art' genre, gained much recognition through his work with the collective c-level and his often cited piece 'Adam Killer.' Subverting expectations of the first person shooter game 'Half Life,' Condon inserted and then killed (over and over) an avatar of his friend Adam--to gruesome yet beautifully kaleidoscopic effect. 'Adam Killer' is an important example of this type of game hack and also happens to be part of Rhizome's ArtBase (and the subject of numerous discussion threads on Rhizome, including a great interview with Jonah Brucker-Cohen). For the new work in Three Modifications, Condon exploits his game engine tinkering to more aesthetic ends. Formally comparing the visual similarities between the realistic yet highly stylized look of contemporary 3-D video games with those of 15th Century Flemish painting, Condon raises issues of representation, iconography, and multi-dimensionality. And as always, through his use of the game engine and his "self playing" games, he frustrates our desire for interaction, forcing us instead to participate through meditation, as opposed to physical action.
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 ...
Job Title: Exhibitions Curator
Position Type: Full-time contract, 35 hours/week
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Years Experience: 3+
The Western Front Society seeks an outstanding, highly motivated arts professional to step into the role of Exhibitions Curator.
The Western Front is one of Canada’s pioneering artist-run centres and produces and presents works in five programs: Exhibitions, Performance Art, New Music, Media Arts, and FRONT Magazine. The Western Front was founded in 1973 by a small group of interdisciplinary artists, and has developed into an exemplary multi-disciplinary environment for experimental art practice and research. With a staff of ten plus interns and volunteers, the Society collectively produces over fifty events a year.
The Exhibitions Program has a mandate to present contemporary visual art by local, national and international artists. Intentionally open, this mandate has historically focused on artwork that is conceptual, media-based or otherwise ephemeral in nature. Currently the program promotes experimentation with conceptual models and contexts for visual art that have allowed the program to expand beyond gallery exhibitions to include artist books and posters, cross-disciplinary works, site-specific and Internet projects, and commissions.
The Exhibitions Curator reports to the Executive Director, and is responsible for:
• Developing and communicating a dynamic vision for the Exhibitions Program
• Curating exhibitions and all associated programming
• Editing publications
• Writing grants and seeking opportunities for additional funding or support
• Supervising one part-time staff member, contract workers, as well as volunteers
• Exemplary knowledge and understanding of contemporary art practices
• Excellent written and verbal communication skills
• Proven financial management experience
• Strong organizational skills
• Ability to provide direction and work with a diverse staff
• High capacity to meet deadlines and work under pressure
• Knowledge of a broad range of issues related to the arts
• A clear understanding of the philosophy and history of the Canadian artist-run centre movement
• Knowledge of the principle funding agencies and prior grant writing experience
• Knowledge of managing publications and print projects
• Experience installing a variety of art exhibitions
• Mac OS, Microsoft Office, electronic mail and Filemaker Pro, an asset
A competitive benefits package is available after the three months probation period is complete. After eight months of employment, four weeks paid vacation may be taken during the period when programs are recessed. An additional ten days paid holiday time may be taken during the December/January holiday period.
A part-time Exhibitions Assistant supports this position. Provisions are also made within the program budget for research-based travel.
HOW TO APPLY
The Western Front Society is committed to the principles of Employment Equity and encourages applications from Aboriginal persons, members of a visible minority group or persons with a disability.
Applications containing a cover letter, curriculum vitae, three references, and writing samples, must be received by 4:00 p.m. on December 14, 2009.
Please send applications by email only to:
Exhibitions Curator Hiring Committee
Western Front Society
303 East 8th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5T 1S1
NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE. Only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.
Therefore, not a distraction at all. I think it's a good barometer of where many of the artists (that I see in Chicago, Brussels, San Fran, and elsewhere) are pointing their vector of effort. To me, this shows me what is being "seen as important", when only 40 years ago, media art was still in a mode of challenging the galley and the object itself. This is a major shift...
While I agree with you Patrick that artists are directing efforts towards marketability, I certainly don't see it as a major shift. I think many Internet Artists who are gearing a part of their practice towards the institution/gallery setting, still create work that disrupts and challenges that system. And, I'm sorry, maybe my perspective as the one time programing director for a chelsea gallery that played a role in bringing some first generation net artists into the commercial sphere, but I just don't see this as a problem. I certainly see it as a trend to follow with interest, but don't see it as a whole hearted conversion to 'art world traditionalism.'
First off. Yes. the ongoing snark/sarcasm/animosity between tom, tim and mriver is super/totally/unbelievably "boring."
Secondly. And this is somewhat off topic on this particular string, but I think this entire net.art 1.0 v. net.art 2.0 conversation is, while not exactly boring, maybe a red herring. To be very simplistic about it, I don't really perceive much theoretical distance between the work of 'the old guard' and the work of the current "3rd generation" net artists. I think both were/are responding to the web as it existed at the time. In the late 1990s people wrote their own html, they 'view(ed) source,' and things were for the most part text based. And the art of the time responded accordingly, creating work about language, translation and disrupting the emerging systems that the general public was so quick to accept unconditionally.
Now, the web has obviously evolved into the web 2.0 (and all that comes with it). You don't need to code to be an internet artist because no one really needs to code to use the web anymore. You just need a myspace or facebook page, access to youtube or flickr, or a blogger address and you are 'actively' participating in the web (obviously a lot of people have written about the deeper implications of this type of migration - notably Olia in her Vernacular Web 2) http://www.contemporary-home-computing.org/vernacular-web-2/). So if internet artists are now making work that is a collection of links, a series of other people's youtube videos? Fantastic. As far as I can tell most of this work is doing so as a means to question the ease with which we are living our most intimate moments online.
The web is a different place, and so obviously the art that comes out of it is going to be different. But I think, at its very core, it is the same. Internet Art responds to the web, its development, and how we use it, regardless of whether it was made by MTAA or Guthrie Lonergan. Like I said, very simplistic, and not a fully formed argument at this point, but I think looking at why this work is so different is far less interesting than exploring its shared characteristics.
ps. This is just an aside. All the muttering about the 'newer generation' of Internet artists having more gallery success is also a bit of a distraction. I guarantee that Vuk, Olia, Thomson and Craighead alone have sold/exhibited more work in the past three years than all of the newer generation put together.