recently reading an editorial by philippe de montebello, the director of
the met [museum] in nyc, i was troubled by his idea that superior
aesthetic form is the primary criteria for a lasting artwork. he stated
that though daumier merely made political cartoons, we appreciate his
work over his contemporary Gavarni because "he was only a journeyman
what's troubling to me isn't the overly conservative tone of the piece,
or the obviously out-dated modernist view of form being the single most
important attribute art holds, or the assumption that the artists he
derides in the article care about the staying power of their work. (most
artists don't care, only the museums and collectors who need to protect
their investments.) no, what troubled me was that young artists who do
have a romantic notion of being appreciated and famous long after they
are dead have gotten very bad advice. net artists especially have gotten
very bad advice from that editorial. the aesthetic superiority of the
formal qualities of your work won't ensure lasting appreciation, pr
its simple to have good pr while you're alive and kicking. you do it
yourself. you create networks of like-minded individuals who all promote
one another. you issue press releases. you can hire someone to do it, if
you have the loot. but after you are dead, the pr machine may quiet down
quite a bit. you are no longer controlling it, if you're lucky you'll
have endowed an institution to keep your name in the public eye. or the
museum curators and the collectors will keep you in the press as a way
of boosting their collections value. but as a net artist, who are we
kidding? no one will have you in their collections, you'll never have
enough money to endow an institution. sure you have the power of the
internet in your grasp, so in your time you can easily be known
worldwide, but what happens after you're not updating that website once
i believe i have an answer: confusion!
that's right, while you are alive, create lots of confusion about who
you are and what you do. and leave lots of cryptic clues on email lists
and bbs's all over the internet. the historians love a mystery, and the
future net art historians are going to have a gold mine of information,
but only if we do our parts to help them now!
1. ensure that any email you send does not have your actual name on it.
2. if at all possible find a few alias's to identify yourself, not just
one: m.river, mark river, mike river, mike sarrf, is a good example. you
could even pretend you are 2 or more different people.
3. create different and fanciful resumes, narratives, bios, statements
to include in any and all shows you are affiliated with and on your
4. the future net art historians may begin to become discouraged by all
the confliciting data, so you need to sow the "truth" throught the data
stream in a way that will be challenging to the historian, but not
impossible for her to create a final story. to insure a place in the net
art pantheon, sow 2-4 different "truths" through your data stream, this
will promote healthy, attention getting debate amongst the future most
ambitious net art historians.
5. create networks with other net artists to help bolster these
different "truths" through your data stream.
i encourage anyone with any other ideas on how best to spin one's future
narrative to post it to this forum, i encourage mark tribe to, after a
period of discussion on this topic, destroy this email and all threads
relating to it so as we're not found out!
remember, its always nice to be "rediscovered".