curt cloninger
Since the beginning
Works in Canton, North Carolina United States of America

PORTFOLIO (7)
BIO
Curt Cloninger is an artist, writer, and Assistant Professor of New Media at the University of North Carolina Asheville (US). His art undermines language as a system of meaning in order to reveal it as an embodied force in the world. By layering, restructuring, hashing, eroding, exhausting, and (dis)splaying language, he causes language to perform itself until its "meaning" has less to do with what it denotes and more to do with how it behaves. His work has been featured in the New York Times and at festivals and galleries from Korea to Brazil. Exhibition venues include Digital Art Museum [DAM] Berlin, L'Instituto de México à Paris, Living Arts of Tulsa, and The Art Gallery of Knoxville.

Cloninger has written on a wide range of topics, including new media and internet art, installation and performance art, experimental graphic design, popular music, network culture, and continental philosophy. His articles have appeared in Intelligent Agent, Mute, Paste, Tekka, Rhizome Digest, A List Apart, and on ABC World News. He is also the author of seven books, most recently "Fresher Styles for Web Designers" (New Riders). He maintains lab404.com, playdamage.org , and deepyoung.org in hopes of facilitating a more lively remote dialogue with the Sundry Contagions of Wonder.
Discussions (1122) Opportunities (4) Events (17) Jobs (0)
DISCUSSION

on the inherent bias of words


Interesting works by 'newer' artists or artist groups that have
nothing to do with nettime/Next Five Minutes/Ars/ Transmediale
circuit are rarely noticed by the players of the "scene"... The
question then haunts you: what makes the work of few serious artists
in net.culture ignored by most nettimers? One tries to think like the
curators seem to have thought, so here we go: is it because they are
somehow not easily packaged as "cyberhype"?

- Coco

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In 1936, the Literary Digest conducted a poll to forecast the result
of the upcoming presidential election. They predicted that Alf
Landon, the Republican candidate, would win by a large margin. In the
actual election, the incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt won a landslide
victory. The Literary Digest had harvested the addresses of the
people they sent the survey to mainly from telephone books and motor
vehicle registries, thereby introducing an important selection
effect. The poor of the depression era, a group where support for
Roosevelt was especially strong, often did not have a phone or a car.
A methodologically more sophisticated forecast would either have used
a more representative polling group or at least factored in known and
suspected selection effects.

- Nick Bostrom

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Net art critics write about art that lends itself to some sort of
obvious dialectic. If I can't unearth some clever insight, if I
can't tie the art in with some pithy cultural reference or statement,
I'm going to skip over that piece of art and not review it. So the
art that gets reviewed and curated is often the art that lends itself
to pseudo-intellectual sound bytes and observations.

But the best art is not an argument. The best art is beyond an
argument. We can have arguments with words. But art can do so much
more. Cary Peppermint once said to me offlist that he didn't
dialogue by posting to rhizome. He said his artworks themselves were
his contributions to the dialogue at rhizome. That seems about
right. Art as argument alone is like using Van Gough's "Starry
Night" as an evening shawl (something which I'm sure would please
certain performance artists immensely).

A while back at rhizome, alex galloway would throw out various
artists and invite people to critique them -- a sort of workshop in
new media critical writing. He proposed meta.am, and Josephine Bosma
was at a loss to say anything insightful about their newer work,
because it was mostly (gorgeous) abstract shockwave interactive
environments. She instead fell back on talking about their older
work (which paired random images with random text), presumably
because this older work had historical and biological references, as
well as some "data culture" ramifications into which she could sink
her theoretical teeth.

When writing for net art news, I try to tackle work that I think is
good (yes, I said "good"), regardless of how easy or hard it is to
reduce into words. That's my challenge as a critical writer. So I
tackle some abstract visual piece that has no conceptual statement
whatsoever, and I talk about it in terms of its visceral/sensorial
impact. Or I take a sprawling conceptual piece like mark amerika's
new joint, and I try to concisely distill it all into under 100 words.

As a critical writer, I'm not trying to make myself look good or
clever. I'm trying to help people see what they might otherwise miss
in a work that I deem valuable. I am subordinate to the work of art.
I am subordinate to my readers. I am merely serving/facilitating.
My hero and model in terms of art criticism is Lester Bangs, who
wrote about the most non-linguistic of all art forms (music) in its
most banal genre (rock & roll). It was said of Lester Bangs that he
perceived rock & roll as literature, and he wrote literature as if he
were playing rock & roll. A sample:
http://www.harbour.sfu.ca/~hayward/van/reviews/astral.html

My point is that there is a selection effect, an inherent bias, in a
lot of net art curation and a lot of net art criticism. Because
(since Barthes) curators and critics no longer see themselves as
stewards of the art. They see themselves as makers. Curators make
context; critics "make" interpretive meaning. Artists pandering to
these two forces (and the money/fame that follows) tend to make works
that are didactic, overboard conceptual, full of extropian bullshit,
and infinitely "discussable/interpretable." Their work will tend to
be political, reactionary to contemporary society, always
"media-aware/reflexive," objective, and impersonal.

Because subjective, personal, emotive art doesn't give the lazy art
critic much to sink her teeth into. With personal/subjective art,
the art critic is forced to experience the work on a personal,
visceral, para-intellectual level before she can even begin to write
a word. And such "spiritual" forms of critical interpretation and
writing are no longer taught in school, because they presuppose the
existence of concepts like truth & beauty that are no longer in vogue
in academic circles. In short, it's "hard" to write intelligently
about such un-conceptual work. So that kind of work is dismissed as
parochial and peripheral to the thick of things.

Yet for my money, the more difficult it is to reduce a work of art
into words, the more "necessary/applicable/valuable" that work of art
is. Beware the artist whose artist statement is more carefully
crafted than his artwork. Beware the allusive, passionless, academic
art critic.

rock & roll ain't noise pollution,
curt

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DISCUSSION

source_4


ahhh... we'll snort with pleasure
ahhh... we'll forego washing
we'll hold a holiday of love
I'm a green tree you're the air
I'll follow you there
I'll follow you

engulf me lover

ahhh... we'll take a tumble
ahhh... down in the gravel
I'll take your hand to lead me over
hang our colors in the air
I wanna follow you there
I wanna follow you

engulf me lover
and loop me into blue
enfold me lover

ahhh... we'll taste the nectar
ahhh... we'll share the bounty
I'll bear the cost of our defense
never looking back again
I'm gonna follow you in
I wanna follow you

engulf me lover
and loop me into blue
enfold me lover

enclose me lover

- edith frost

http://www.playdamage.org/4.html
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DISCUSSION

source_7


she shines
in a world full of ugliness
she matters
when everything is meaningless

fragile
she doesn't see her beauty
she tries to get away
sometimes
it's just that nothing seems worth saving
i can't watch her slip away

i won't let you fall apart
i won't let you fall apart
i won't let you fall apart
i won't let you fall apart

she reads the minds of all the people as they pass her by
hoping someone will see
if i could fix myself i'd -
but it's too late for me

i won't let you fall apart
i won't let you fall apart
i won't let you fall apart
i won't let you fall apart

we'll find the perfect place to go where we can run and hide
i'll build a wall and we can keep them on the other side
...but they keep waiting
...and picking...
...and picking...
...and picking...
...and picking...
...and picking...
...and picking...
...and picking...
...and picking...
...and picking...
...and

(it's something i have to do)
i won't let you fall apart (i was there, too)
i won't let you fall apart (before everything else)
i won't let you fall apart (i was like you)
i won't let you fall apart

- trent reznor

http://www.playdamage.org/7.html
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DISCUSSION

source_9


i'm so close
i'm almost inside
it won't be long
before the mystery is mine

i'm so close
i'm almost inside
but there were times
i hung my head and cried

i'm so close
i'm almost inside
i'm so close
racing the tide

i'm so close
i'm almost inside
a dream unchained
that can't escape my mind

i'm so close
i'm almost inside
but there were times
there was no end in sight

i'm so close
i'm almost inside
i'm so close
racing the tide

i'm so close
i'm almost inside
those big waves
we always knew i'd ride

i'm so close
i'm almost inside
i'm so close
racing the tide

i'm so close
i'm almost inside
i'm so close
racing the tide

i'm so close
i'm almost inside
i'm so close
racing the tide

- mercury rev

http://www.playdamage.org/9.html
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DISCUSSION

source_10


Lines form on my face and hands
Lines form from the ups and downs
I'm in the middle without any plans
I'm a boy and I'm a man

I'm eighteen
and I don't know what I want
Eighteen
I just don't know what I want
Eighteen
I gotta get away
I gotta get out of this place
I'll go runnin in outer space
Oh yeah

I got a baby's brain and an old man's heart
Took eighteen years to get this far
Don't always know what I'm talkin' about
Feels like I'm livin in the middle of doubt
Cause I'm

Eighteen
I get confused every day
Eighteen
I just don't know what to say
Eighteen
I gotta get away

Lines form on my face and my hands
Lines form on the left and right
I'm in the middle
the middle of life
I'm a boy and I'm a man
I'm eighteen and I like it
Yes I like it
Oh I like it
Love it
Like it
Love it
Eighteen!
Eighteen!
Eighteen!
Eighteen and I like it

- alice cooper

http://www.playdamage.org/10.html
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