Twitter Art is Dead, Long Live Twitter Art!

curt cloninger Jan. 1 2009 17:24Reply

Hi Jon,

This is a good example of how "2.0" net artists who use corporately created social networking tools (aka "surface level content templates") to overtly (or even subtly) critique said networks are always going to be "subject" to the corporate control of the institutions in charge of those networks. The recent "Pirates of the Amazon" project is a similar example (although it is seems more ingeniously conceived than this twitter example, because it didn't rely on Amazon's hardware/software/system, and thus Amazon had to resort to the external legal system to shut it down). An earlier example is Keith Obadike's Blackness on sale at eBay. The "aw shucks," cluetrain-manifesto-inspired, neo-corporate-cuddly speak used on the Twitter suspended site page ( ) is telling. They are not offended, legally threatened, or even critiqued. They are comfortably in control of their own spin as they endearingly eradicate every trace of the project.

This is the conundrum of critical art in the era of corporately commodified social networking. How does a tactical media artist hack a corporate service (like mySpace) that is alread purposefully left open to be user-configured? Either we have arrived at open source utopia and we simply need to begin using these networks as they afford, like all the other happy users; or the agency of our radical protests have been rendered irrelevant because the corporations have decided to let the people eat cake (provided we eat cake in their approved way). Any further protestations simply seem like sour grapes (or, in this case, spam). "We gave you twitter for free, why are you munging up (y)our utopic network?" "We gave you reasonably priced access to Amazon's DVD database, what are you bitching about now?"

It seems like for such a project to succeed (and to me, mere canonization in parochial net art circles as yet another conceptual/tactical one-liner doesn't count as "success"), it needs to somehow be more widely distributed. Either a bunch of people employ these bots at the same time, or there is some kind of purposeful residual trace built into the life-cycle of the project, something to live on beyond a few screen shots, blog posts, and discussion board dialogues.

Either that or abandon situationist "tactical media" paradigms altogether and move towards something akin to De Certeau's "user as tactical consumer." But that is a longer essay.


jonCates July 22 2010 19:13Reply

hi Curt + all

i have just written a new Furtherfield blog entry on Jake Elliott's (aka @jakevsrobots) Artware RSS projects in which i respond to this reply:

looking fwd to the continued conversations

// jonCates

curt cloninger July 22 2010 22:09Reply

Thanks jon,

My favorite of those projects is
It reminds me of

Algorithms that modulate visuals (whether "figurative" or "abstract") are somewhat interesting.
Algorithms that modulate and mashup text language with visuals are more interesting.
Algorithms that modulate and mashup text language with visuals where both text and visual sources are derived from a kind of living, real-time, networked, online, noospheric meme culture are even more interesting.
If you can frame those mashups in an minimal/iconic comic book context that strongly suggests a specific kind of direct/literal reading, even better (and more cognitively jarring).

We human "viewers" are always going to try to "make sense of" / "decode" whatever absurdities are placed before us. That's what we do. We treat whatever "writing" (Derrida's term) that has been placed before us as if it has some sort of communicative intention, as if it "intends/means" to "share/uncover/reveal" some sort of hidden metaphysical secret, as if it is sent to us by some intentional, singular, other human authorial presence.

So the Eliza effect (generative code that seems like it's human) causes us to question the importance of the "sending" human author. But this difference (human/puter) has been a common theme of code-centric inquiry since at least Turing.

Far more interesting/novel than merely "'puters seeming human" is when generative code is applied to a collective online "consciousness" of texts and images that actually are derived from real humans (albeit an amalgam of humans, heavily mediated, tending toward the least common denominator). Then the generative code acts like some sort of brute force Freudian analyst, tricking out uncanny combinations of words and things, not psychoanalyzing any single individual as much as collectively schizo-analyzing contemporary human culture (or at least the drossy/dreggy manifestations of contemporary human culture that drift along the surface of the contemporary pop net). The title "I Pretend" plays into this Freudian "reading" quite well. Such work goes beyond mere dada absurdity and on toward a kind of real-time aleatoric analysis of collective human subconscious. Yes, the results are "disturbing" to say the least. Freud would call them "unheimlich" (uncanny, literally un-home-like). We are always already not in Kansas anymore.


jonCates July 23 2010 08:13Reply

thnx for yr reply Curt

yes, abs'ly unheimlich! && yes, i def'ly agree + i thin/feel you have deeply interconnected der roter Faden when you describe I Pretended as collectively schizo-analyzing contemporary human/digital culture

it is also Elliott's most recent Artware mashup machine/Algorithmic Art account in his series of projects, so i thin/feel it is also safe to say that he is refining the process as he moves from each concurrent experiment/lesson/project

// jonCates

I think the modern world and technology Totally SUCKS. It,s only fun for the wealthy who can get or afford the latest greatest gadgets so they can be super-yuppies. They should have never taken oil out of the ground! This new generation of techno-bot young people is so dishearteneing everyone twittering or tweeting or text messaging. People spending way too much time on laptops and PC,s What about growing a vegetable garden? Or playing a musical instrument, an acoustic one which requires no electricity? Yeah join the fray and hoopala sure go ahead! Why not you can afford it right? THIS consumer based petro-chemical age sucks Big Time. Oh and rhizome? thanks for letting me vent, ahhh! I feel much better now!……(laughing) "bAbyLon JOHN"

John McArdle Aug. 25 2010 08:21Reply

Trolls dweebs nerds it's all the same to me, name calling is mean and we all know mean people suck so, dude WTF? babylon john drummer for Yak ReMiX and partner in The Wiz sound company we now have a tour bus as well EAT ME!…..(laughing)

John McArdle Oct. 21 2010 11:36Reply

Wow! someone made a statue or sculpture of a "troll"…..Warning: this is a false troll, I actually have a real troll I can show what one really looks like if you want.