Tributes to Tom Moody
Artists and friends remember the blogger, musician, and artist

Image: Portrait of Tom Moody by Michael Manning, reworked by Moody.

In the wake of his passing, we reached out to Tom Moody’s close friends and collaborators for remembrances and tributes, which are collected below; some are also quoted in a longer obituary written by Gene McHugh, which includes a deeper discussion of his art and music. These remembrances are a powerful reminder of how important Tom’s work was— his mentorship of other digital artists, his achievements in advancing theoretical ideas around digital art, and his artistic output. Our intention is to continue to support Tom’s memory through archival efforts, in conversation with his community and estate. 

To those who were close to Tom, we offer our deepest condolences. If you’d like to include your own remembrance in this post, email (or use the long-neglected comment feature below). 




Petra Cortright: 

tom was a true artist's artist. he showed up for other people. he showed up for me early on. i wish i had had the chance to tell him that he really changed my life. he put important words on my work, he called it Art before i even knew what it was. he was an adult who took me seriously and i owe him a lot for that. i have so much respect for his prolific output and endurance until the end and it is something to be remembered and admired.

the energy he brought to discussions was essential. even if he disagreed with people, he was still fair and above the belt - you don't even see that anymore, nowadays people just block and shut others down. he always wanted the conversation to endure. what a crucial, rare trait. what a loss to lose someone like that.

tom was part of the internet that was the good internet. an internet dedicated to sharing knowledge and culture and connecting people - and he did connect people. many people met because of him. many people made art because of him.  

his punk spirit is a loss to the world and i will miss him very much.

 John Pomara:

Tom and I were very close friends for many years. We met in Dallas Texas back around 1986. I had just returned to Texas after living in NY City for 5 years. We quickly became friends always discussing trends in the art world as well current critical issues and theory. We were always discussing NYC and the art world as well as traveling back and forth.

Tom was an encyclopedic source of art knowledge with a memory for facts and details. We constantly challenged one another as artists in our studios helping to push our work further. He was at that time doing provocative paintings of various sizes reflective of "bad painting," like thrift store works, grouped together 3 or 4 at a time. They had a Mike Kelley-like influence challenging viewers to look the other way. Great work!!!

 He wrote my first art review in Artforum which helped me immensely by explaining my work, giving it a context to the current painting discourse. He had a way with words explaining difficult, and challenging issues that even a layman could understand. He went on to write reviews for Artform when he permanently moved to NYC around March,1995. We stayed in contact over the years since I come to the city several times a year keeping up with the art world. Tom would always fill me in on the latest important artists and exhibitions and go along with me making the rounds to the galleries. 

He was truly a wonderful friend and will be greatly missed!

 Ryder Ripps:

I met Tom Moody in 2010 through a website I conceptualized called, a real-time image sharing platform with an active net art community. The site had a distinct culture – unpretentious, fast paced, lampooning / recontextualizing commercial pop as art / for lolz and with little distinction between what was art, communication, remix or jokes. Moody was the oldest active user as well as the most knowledgeable/seasoned within past net art scenes / movements. He was the first person who took the platform seriously as an artwork in and of itself – understanding the context within art history, he told me he knew of my father Rodney Ripps' work and we would speak beyond GIFs and internet sensibility into larger art contexts, such as my father's abstract expressionist painting and how it relates to his own.

The early days of, between 2009-2011 fostered a very close knit community and culture with its own way of speaking and thinking – of which Tom was a fixture and helped develop. He critiqued everything, especially corporate/institutional overreach, striving for an internet that he saw most culturally enriching. These ideals can be extrapolated through conceptually unpacking his own work – the way he reappropriated naive default software supplied by Microsoft (MSPaint) for a tool of raw expression – a tension present throughout his output and interactions with me. In his music he often used a piece of music equipment called The Mutator, an outboard filter that can produce extreme audio transformations, in addition to the SidStation, a synth with a core taken from the Commodore 64 game console – these two tools conceptually align with the way I see Tom's art.. a modification, experimentation and critique of technology from the inside out.

I connected deeply with Tom's critical nature, and would often confide my own many complaints in him.. which more often than not he would present to me a less angry view while still remaining critical – reading back on these exchanges where I would share my gripes about people in net art or writers – he would often offer a more balanced perspective, which was respectable and I would deem worth listening to – crumugden to crumugden. When many in the community were condemning me based on knee jerk reactions to intentionally controversial art I created, on his own accord, Tom would defend me in his blog and send out open letters to publications who he felt failed to understand the work. Tom meant a great deal to me, he was a beacon of honesty and displayed unwavering, outspoken individualism, something unfortunately very rare and increasingly missing in the corporate algorithmic internet that he passionately worked against.

Through his blog, Tom Moody left behind an immense digital footprint, which I hope many spend the time to appreciate and learn. His legacy represents the best of the internet – a communal, fun, honest, human and vulnerable space to create. 

Michael Manning:

I met Tom Moody on in 2008.

I was new to net art and didn’t have a place or fit into a scene. Tom never felt like he did. We became fast friends, emailing daily, meeting up in New York going to shows, doing visits in his studio in Jersey City.

He was a brilliant artist. Truly better than almost all of us. As a traditional painter, he was exceptionally skilled and conceptually grounded. Those attributes only flourished further with his digital work. Tom knew exactly how to break things or make them perfectly uneven in a way that was unique. His work never felt labored or polished, but was beautifully complete at the same time. His GIFs seemed to move in ways animations shouldn’t, simultaneously defying the slick aesthetic future he loathed and the one note category of ‘glitch.’

While he was known for his GIFs, I always preferred his work in MS Paint and later exploration of web-based painting apps. Tom’s approach to painting digitally was unlike anyone else. His practice was highly informed by his traditional training as a painter. This aesthetic and skill permeated each of his works, complimented by smudges, smears, hard lines, patterns and other graphic elements that were idiosyncratic to each program he used. He rendered blobs of matter spewing with limbs, masses, joints turning in on themselves with classical brushstrokes as if for concept art, then overlaid them with moiré shading or stamped brushes you’d only see in an open source graphic editor. His practice was perpetual, casual but not unserious. He made paintings and GIFs, daily posting them to his blog,, or wherever he felt like that day. Certainly never Facebook. 

Tom was funny, smart, caring, and uncompromising in a way very few people are. Most people widely regarded him as a grump or curmudgeon because he was perpetually critical and vocal about his discontent with the goings on of digital art and culture at large. I always regarded his commitment to critical rigor as a sign of respect to our community and an acknowledgement that what we were doing was worth consideration as a meaningful endeavor. In all honesty I think Tom said out loud a lot of what everyone was thinking when it came to the net art scene. Ryder and Tom always joked net art was just 50 people who all hated each other. Tom just acknowledged those types of dynamics instead of faking it for the status quo.

Tom probably would have laughed at the idea of being memorialized on Rhizome. He spent a good bit of digital ink lamenting his disdain with the politics and canon making at Rhizome but he did so because he understood that institutions matter.

He was a great friend and mentor. I will miss him dearly.

Paddy Johnson:

I met Tom Moody the way every blogger connected in 2005—he called me out for a blogging offense. I don’t remember the specifics now, but I decided he was right after reading the arguments in his post, so I wrote to thank him for it. After that, we were friends. 

I paid attention to Tom because he was better than anyone else online at explaining and contextualizing digital art in terms the art world could understand. He once compared the authorless circulation of GIFs to Jim Shaw’s Thrift Store paintings at MetroPictures—an analogy that made a lot more sense when he penned it because they had not yet seen mainstream adoption. 

Tom considered himself an artist first and would want to be remembered for that work more than anything he wrote. The fact is, though, no artist’s career is just the sum of their body of work, but a reflection also of the lives they touched and made better. I don’t have space to list all the ways Tom did that for the digital art community, but a sliver of it lives in the massive archives of his blog. Tom described the comment section of his blog, a once-popular site for debate, as “bloody” but ultimately worth the intellectual effort.

As idealistic as it sounds now, we sincerely believed that those arguments would lead to more shared knowledge and better art-making. (Even then, it probably seemed absurd—I remember sharing this idea with a boyfriend only to have howling laughter returned!) But the fact is, Tom’s work did make art better and the community stronger. He was generous. He was funny. He was smart. And he will be sorely missed by all of us.

Cory Arcangel:

There were only a handful of people who were in the New York net art scene of the early 00's. It was a scene of square pegs, as everyone had come from different fields. There were dystopian cyber libertarians, lower east side performance artists, west coast cowboy hat wearing BBS hippies, trad contemporary artists who decided to "drop out", and, of course, Tom Moody. Tom — who looked like he stepped right out of a middle management I.B.M. office in 1976 — was a poly-math. Once on a studio visit to his tidy, sunny, and quite pleasant New Jersey flat in 2005, we discussed his prints, writing, music, art, and Djing. Having come from trad art criticism (writing for Artforum for example) he was already juggling in his head extremely complex ideas regarding the new forms made possible by digital tools and the Internet. These ideas would become influential and provide a conceptual structure for several of the movements that emerged in the 00's — especially the (amazing) Surf Club scene.

That's not to say, he was on the sidelines as a critic and theorist. He was truly in the mix as an artist, and musician as well. For my own work, he was one of the first people to take it really seriously very early (more serious then I!), and on the flip side, he was also one of the first to really hold my feet to the fire as my career progressed (and never let up till he passed).

These days, now 20 years later, whenever I see someone from the old scene, I am immediately filled with warmth, and enjoy nothing more than sitting down for a coffee, and re-connecting. I am saddened I will not have an opportunity to do that with Tom. My thoughts to his family.

Marisa Olson:

Tom Moody and I did collaborate and overlap in a number of ways as artists in the scene that grew out of the social bookmarking community and into the Pro Surfer net art community that started with Nasty Nets, a group project that I cofounded with three other friends. Tom was one of the first people that we invited to join the group because of others’ admiration for his ‘good links,’ as well as his art and music. — All of which we were familiar with through his blog.

Tom and I became friends, attending each other‘s art and social events, and I’ll never forget that I had my first taste of absinthe at some art party that he took me to  before I even moved to New York. ;) 

When I started thinking about organizing a gallery exhibition related to animated GIFs, in 2004-2005, Tom was one of the first artists that I knew I wanted to include because of the way that he not only used the medium as a creative form, but also worked in a continuous flow between online and offline media—creating drawings that became GIFs and vice versa. This was even before I coined the term “postinternet art,“ a year or two later and work like his was definitely at the forefront of my thinking about artists working on- and offline in response to the internet. I mention this because, while Tom never became as famous as some of the other younger artists that blew up when the gallery world co-opted the term, he was definitely influential in the formation of the concept, if not the early atmosphere around postinternet art.

Travis Hallenbeck:

In 2004, I had a job with a high speed internet connection. I looked at every search result for “MS Paint” and zeroed in on Tom, of course. We wrote hundreds of emails and comments to each other on so many sites and met up at least once a year to go over everything that mattered. But Tom left the BosWash megalopolis in the summer of 2019, and he may have not said goodbye in person to anyone as far as I know. "Sorry to bail on you without ceremony." Yearning for a final message, I re-read his emails and his blog, listen to his music and imagine him saying that about his death, too. I daydream about going on a grocery run with him in his Nissan truck in central Texas, and I wish I had found time to visit him and see how he was living after retiring from the part-time research analyst job he had at a law firm downtown. He had 100% of his time to devote to his own work, and it was so exciting. I think about his product box paintings whenever I'm breaking down a box for recycling.

Sara Ludy: 

Here's some drawings from Computers Club Drawing Society that bring a lot of joy.


St Celfer (John Parker): 

I miss Tom + our collaborations.

This piece moved from the tactile world of a rorschach I made out of bathtub stickers on canvas to my photo documentation of it to Tom's animated GIF, an uncanny improvement.

I miss Tom and our scratchy discussions. He was very exacting and had an undaunted integrity witnessed here where he explains how this piece is ultimately to be seen in the 3D world on a CRT screen (and not on this one!):

During our last conversation in person in late January '22, he told me he hoped to be the "monk on the mountain" - I now know what he means:  His mountain is (and and - storage for music and video).

What I like most about visiting Tom on his mountain is that you are welcome to leave and pursue your own thoughts. Should it provide inspiration, he feels immense satisfaction. The mountain is vast. Have you seen his travel posts?

Jules LaPlace:

Tom Moody was an artist and musician, moonlighting as a critic. A painter with fine art training, he used the computer out of necessity, and made work that transcended the abject digital medium. His excitement at the heady praxis of the early 2000s blog era peaked around the Infinite Fill show, but turned to dismay as his former contemporaries fled into privatized social networking silos, where the GIFs were not even GIFs anymore. Tom Moody never used Facebook, and by the time Adobe turned Photoshop into a monthly service contract, he had already switched to Linux. He mistrusted any software that pretended to be more than a tool to be applied, grudgingly, to the task at hand. His glitches were violent, passionate, futile attempts to make an image that would defy the commercialized internet. He preferred smaller, more intimate sites such as and its successors, where imagistic conversations could be had with alacrity, moving in a lateral direction to prevailing net-art trends.

My own relationship with Tom wasn't always easy. Our first contact: I emailed him, "hey this image you posted was made with my software!" and he responded, "thanks, I've updated the blog post, but you may or may not like what I wrote" - ouch. But like many prickly people, he warmed to you if given a chance. I have fond memories of Tom at barbeques, art openings, Thanksgiving dinner, after-work evenings with the young and drunken crowd. He was supportive if you showed him your art; he could be generous with his praise if he felt you were giving it your best. Sending him a painting or a song might kick off an artistic dialogue, if you were lucky.  We all showed up on his blog at some point, and it always felt like we'd really made it. I think he would have liked us all to keep going. Thinking of his reaction to Kevin Bewersdorf's candle performance: while you were offline, deleting your blog as performance and meditating on the Tao, we were all still here, working as usual.

Tom once told me that an artist's gift was being able to step outside of society, to observe and comment. I don't disagree, but it's all too easy to boil this down to: look on society, and see the others sipping craft cocktails as they sink into the muck, the lead and dioxin of the American wasteland. But I think there is more to see than that. As I read through his blog, I'm glad to find him still painting, still making music, still posting about art and collaborating. Tom Moody rambling the countryside, a raw photo essayist. I was excited to see him making mixes, especially a “deep house” vinyl mix that recreated his DJ sets at that one downtown bar circa 2000—a mythic time for us Moody heads, who imagine him somewhat younger, fresh into his use of MS Paintbrush, on the cusp of starting a blog. Like seeing his oil paintings, which he still kept in his apartment, wrapped in archival plastic, surrounding him as he slept. For a moment you glimpse him in his pre-Internet life, in his twenties or thirties, young like we were. A wave of tears breaks upon the rocks, falls back into the sea; a moment passes and Tom Moody the Australian cricketer emerges from brief eclipse.

St Celfer (Published May 7, 2022):

I miss Tom + our collaborations.

This piece moved from the tactile world of a rorschach I made out of bathtub stickers on canvas to my photo documentation of it to Tom's animated GIF, an uncanny improvement.

I miss Tom and our scratchy discussions. He was very exacting and had an undaunted integrity witnessed here where he explains how this piece is ultimately to be seen in the 3D world on a CRT screen (and not on this one!):

During our last conversation in person in late January '22, he told me he hoped to be the "monk on the mountain" - I now know what he means: His mountain is (and and - storage for music and video).

What I like most about visiting Tom on his mountain is that you are welcome to leave and pursue your own thoughts. Should it provide inspiration, he feels immense satisfaction. The mountain is vast. Have you seen his travel posts?


Lisa Moody Breslin (Published May 7, 2022):

These loving tributes, and Gene Mchugh’s obituary, so capture Tom’s genius, generosity, compassion and complexities.

My love for music, especially song lyrics, is rooted in Tom’s passion for music. (Imagine cutting your 10-year-old-future-English-major teeth on Yes and Rush lyrics!). 

My insatiable curiosity about the people, the worlds and the cultures that open through music and art stem from him.

He was an amazing big brother and friend, especially when we could rise above the cards that life dealt us. 

Tom lived his passions and followed his truths. How many people have the courage and the ability to do that?  

Together, we helped each other recognize that what life gives us and what we take don’t have be the same. 

Tom, the life he lived, is a beautiful reminder that the ability to love and experience love unconditionally varies from person to person.  We are lucky if we land with a few good people with whom we can do both.

I am forever thankful for his art family who love him and who continue to archive details about the Tom to remember. He was loved and is so missed by other family members as well.


Lisa Moody Breslin