Cory Arcangel and Hanne Mugaas' performance/lecture at Images last Friday was an unfortunate event for several reasons.

1) Most artists I know do have some self-doubt about what they are doing. Arcangel prefaced his performance by declaring the possibility of its failure, and a history of its past failures. Unfortunately, it didn't come across as self-doubt, it came across as an attempt to inoculate the audience against a subsequent failure.

2) uhhmmm ok ....ummm...ok...OK...no....uhhhhhhhhhmmmmm..ok...um...wait...ok... A few more nouns and verbs were needed. Or else just click on the youTube links a bit faster. I'll argue that it's not brave or interesting to surf in real time while speaking to an audience. (We all figured that out a long time ago during phone conversations with our mothers.)

3) Do not mistake the email links that you and your friends sent each other in 1997 and 1998 as an early universal web meme experience. That could actually be a perfect definition of a local experience. (For Christ sake, Vera Frenkel and Michael Snow were in the audience, he wasn't a 15 year old performing for 12 year olds)

4) I was a little confused by the proposition that an old dance clip's appearance on youtube was a direct influence on a later Beyonce music video. In the past I have been guilty of assuming that dancers and choreographers weren't the brightest bulbs, but I think it's safe to assume that they all know who Bob Fosse is. (it's not an obscure youTube reference that some choreographer discovered from an email link in 1997 - 1998.) [eta: Tim Comeau provided this link from NPR that does state that Beyonce learned about the Fosse choreography from a youTube video: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97356053. I stand corrected - L.M.]

5) The premise of the evening was that he would dealing with a clash between the art word and art on-line, that's a great subject, but that's not what was presented there. (as one friend in the audience pointed out it was a squandered opportunity) Again in the preface, he asked the question about whether it should be done at all? Obviously the audience was there to hear about it, so the question we have to ask back: are you the one equipped to present this?


- L.M. 4-13-2009 5:15 pm

I couldn't agree more. It was really disappointing and not worth $10. One more complaining point: there was a painfully contrived attempt to present the peformance as a collaboration. While Arcangel puttered around up front, Hanne Mugaas sat in a control booth in the same room doing nothing except occasionally sending a phatic message via chat software that she could as easily have contributed if she was also on stage. I'd be pretty curious to hear her version of the lecture. But, once-burned, I'd only go if the event was free and there was nothing else to do that day.
- sally mckay 4-13-2009 5:33 pm


I don't disagree with any of the points either of you have made about the Arcangel/Mugaas performance, particularly the problematics of the lecture not doing what the artist said it would do (address the difference between the 'real life' artworld and the online artworld) and the non-collaborative collaboration that was happening. But, strangely, I had the opposite reaction to the event. I really enjoyed it. I laughed a lot, was irked occasionally, but came away remembering everything that was shown and with lots of fodder for dinner discussion.

I remember coming away thinking that Images, and at Pleasure Dome, the co-presenter, really emphasize the importance of *experimental* film and video, but that as an audience we usually expect even the most experimental projects to be executed with some amount of professionalism. Arcangel's performance definitely was not professional, but I thought some of the approach was meant to mirror the material he was working with. The gallery of the bichon frisé throughout the history of art, for instance, is definitely not professional, but is (I think) amazing in part because of its DIY, idiosyncratic nature and its failure to achieve those standards.

I wonder if it was the failure to be professional–as both an artist and PowerPoint style lecturer–that rubbed some people the wrong way with the Arcangel performance. Especially your comment, Sally, about the cost of the event versus what you got in return as an audience. Ben Coonley's performance earlier in the week played with a similar idea, but his was all camp and fake, pre-scripted failure that came off much more polished. Was it the presentation's failure to be all it could be or purported to be that was disappointing, or the presentation style and execution, or some mixture of the two?

In any case, your critique gave me lots to think about and I want to ponder it some more.
- Gabby (guest) 4-13-2009 9:10 pm


I howled during the spaghetti cat youTubes. But until then I was bored and frustrated with his delivery. It was not refreshing or charming to watch someone ramble on in the persona of a regular guy who just likes to surf the internet for cool funny shit ...gosh shucks...

I don't think professionalism comes into the equation, we've all got pretty wide experiences of what performance can be, Fastwurms and Sally, among others, have done some of the most casual looking DIY performances I've ever seen. (I wasn't expecting to see a trade show software presentation with power point & T-shirt tossing either.)

- L.M. 4-13-2009 10:22 pm


I saw the brilliant Andrew J Paterson there and from his Images blog entry:

I was keen to take in Hanne Mugaas’ and Cory Arcangel’s Art Since 1950 (According to the Internet). I, like many, believe that The Internet and its electronic systems have indeed effected definitions of art object and/or exchange and who exactly is an artist. But…one can only be so slack and get away with it. One can only be so offhandedly disorganized without simply losing interest. And Arcangel (Mugaas was the technician, or the brains?) did not sustain my interest. Even my dead cat knows that seminal art events (emphasis on body artists such as Chris Burden and Bruce Naumann) are endlessly “re-made” by You Tube pranksters. The 22nd Images Festival had already established that original prints were destined to become copies of copies and therefore what exactly is an original anyway. Animal events loosely parallel to cinematic moments do not cut the mustard, and so on and so on and so on. When somebody stands in front of an audience and informs an audience that this is their third presentation of this lecture cum performance and - guess what - the first two presentations were disasters; that somebody lowers expectations and had better be pretty on top of his or her game if they intend to recover those expectations. But Mugaas’ and Arcangel’s presentation and aesthetic has nothing to do with recovering or re-examining anything - it is about detritus and general flotsam. Nothing more and nothing less. Over and out.

- L.M. 4-13-2009 10:31 pm


I read Andy's post earlier and, again, couldn't find much to argue with. It's interesting that both Andy and L.M. and Sally mention the issue of expecting one thing and getting another: a better link between the internet and how it's affected art, a more collaborative approach, something that overcomes the statement that the past two performances were disasters, etc. That was why I mentioned the aspect of professionalism - I guess in this case it's just a euphemism for "better executed" or "more convincing" which are maybe larger issues in performance art than professionalism.
- Gabby (guest) 4-13-2009 10:40 pm


I should have given you credit for that meaning of professionalism, Gabby. The word bugged me because we are all dealing with the contrived here, no matter what. As Andy points out, an aesthetic was chosen.
- L.M. 4-13-2009 11:06 pm


Hey there,
I didn't get to the talk but it's great to read your discussion. Thanks for posting!
- Leah Sandals (guest) 4-14-2009 12:49 am


I've seen Cory Arcangel perform twice before and he was fantastic both times.
- sally mckay 4-14-2009 1:13 am


Have you thought about what was missing this time?
- L.M. 4-14-2009 2:22 am


Also, for the record, corporate T-shirt tossing would have made the performance significantly better, in my opinion.

I've never seen Arcangel perform before, only his prerecorded videos, so I'd love to hear your thoughts on what changed this time, Sally.
- Gabby (guest) 4-14-2009 2:48 am


I think two things have changed. 1: in the past he was a bit less coy about his own abilities and intelligence 2: the gosh-shucks-I'm-just-a-hedonistic-culture-surfer persona is less charming now that more of us are doing it on a daily basis. And...number three...the first performative lecture of his I saw was about the electric guitar, and the second was about Paper Rad and Dr. Do was performing live as well. Another time I also saw Dr. Do without Arcangel performing with Paper Rad graphics. Those were all events where the art content was being produced live on the spot, with lots of reference to the internet-influenced cultural context surrounding them. Arcangel is canny, and smart, and informed and he's been around the block and no-way, no-how is he as naive as he was trying to come across. My reading of this performance is that he was trying to inhabit the role of audience, rather than the role of performer. I have a bit of sympathy for the project, but it didn't work out because trying to impersonate 'internet audience' in middle class western culture in 2009 is like trying to impersonate 'consumer,' or 'man on the street,' or 'artist.'
- sally mckay 4-14-2009 3:14 am


The assumed persona was really weird, now that I think about it. Especially when he'd go off on strange anecdotes about finding cool internet things in his college dorm. Unlike conceptual practices that "anyone could do" but only the artist/performer is supposed to be capable of thinking of or presenting, surfing for weird, but slightly conceptual or artistic, material on the internet is not counter culture in the slightest anymore. In fact, as Sally said, it's what everyone does in middle class western culture, whenever we have spare time. Maybe it would have been more effective if it was couched as an "anyone can find art on the internet" project rather than an "anyone can find cool stuff on the internet, but why would you want to if you have to act like this guy" project.
- Gabby (guest) 4-14-2009 12:43 pm


I do think you are right, though Gabby, my complaining about the fee is a bit of a red herring. This was a performance, and an experiment, and while I don't think it worked, I do think it was valid programming.
- sally mckay 4-14-2009 2:22 pm


When I heard Phillp Monk say to someone on the sidewalk afterward, 'that was pathetic and so was the audience', he was the second person I'd heard complain about it, the first being some generic art fag saying it was 'awful'. Meanwhile, I thought it was one of the best things ever, and this reaction reminded me of why I've largely dropped out of so much art stuff.

First, I dug the informality. I felt it was unfortunate he tried to squeeze it into 45 minutes, because he barely got started. There was easily a couple of hours there. Second, yeah, I'll pay $10 to watch YouTube videos on a big screen. They're more entertaining - and what Arcangel's point was, which I agree with completely, is that they're way more art than what the 'artists' are doing. Near the end, when he compared Baby T-Pain to his Jimi Hendrix video, saying he's always being outdone - precisely why YouTube is more interesting than an art gallery or video festival of experimental media. And what was refreshing is that Arcangel had an infectious enthusiasm for the material. The audience laughed and enjoyed it. That's where I'm all like, WTF people? Audience reaction was positive, individual reaction negative. One almost gets the impression that what defines anything as art (especially to the grumblers) is some kind of sentimental seriousness, as opposed to the more fun WTF? And by focusing on YouTube's WTF, he left the jaded romantics in the crowd wanting.

Third, I'm a bit of a nerd for seeing how computers have modified the >1990s slide-show. I liked how his lecture notes were a Google Sites webpage which he broadcast to us all. Very open-source culture. I could see how he was trying for some efficiency with Hanna using the Google chat, but that wasn't so effective - except for her ability to send him links during his talk.

As for whether or not it lived up to its promotion - whatever. I don't pay much attention to those write ups anymore since they always bullshit. The last time one caught my interest was for the Anselm Franke talk at the end of February, and then Mr. F gets up and says, 'i'm not going to talk about that, I'm just going to make this up off the top of my head'. I was so bored. Maybe because he droned on for 45 minutes before showing his first slide, and then it was some fucking b&w shot of a Native American on a horse. Mr. Arcangel too made it up on the spot, warning that it was something that they were still trying to figure out, and (I was very impressed by this) knew when to stop the YouTube video mid-through, with his 'ok, enough'. (That's bringing a level of sophistication in a scene that like to suffer through things). But looking back at the right up -post, I see that it syncs well enough that I didn't feel ripped off.

BTW, his notes with the links:

http://sites.google.com/site/artsince1960/newartsice
- Timothy C (guest) 4-15-2009 3:24 am


Oh, and re: point #4 => Beyonce via YouTube's clip. I looked into this on the weekend and his story was accurate; NPR did a thing about it

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97356053
- Timothy C (guest) 4-15-2009 4:22 am


Thanks, I stand corrected.
- L.M. 4-15-2009 5:02 am


But you are wrong about everything else. Always. Forever.

(Though that was a dumb thing for Philip to say. All Sally & I said was: "That sucked, bet Tim loved it.")

- L.M. 4-15-2009 5:10 am


Yes, I have perpetually bad taste. Lol
- Timothy C (guest) 4-15-2009 2:48 pm


Not like this blog, which is all about formal presentation and sentimental seriousness.
- sally mckay 4-15-2009 2:54 pm


Terence Dick is now directing people here in his latest Akimbo blog posting, where he's also on the bandwagon of "the whole thing was a waste of my time," adding,

"His inability to follow through to some sort of conclusion was just intellectual laziness, which was particularly frustrating because the topic could have been illuminating or worthy of debate (the atual topic and not the speakers's mode of address)."

Ok, then people. I'd like to challenge you to do better. I'd pay another $10 at some venue to see you're improved verison of this agreed-upon massive fail. Presumably in the Platonic ether for which you all have special glasses, there is the perfect version which you'd be better equpied to present then the New York City art-star (which is why everyone went in the first place, admit it). And if we agree that the NYCA* sucked, maybe that's a hint that we should be doing this type of thing ourselves, rather than waiting to have it be done for us.

Also, I'll add that I don't disagree with the main thesis of the complaint, that the thing was a fuck-up. But what I'm saying is that I liked it in-part because it was a fuck-up, and that his point => "YouTube is better than regular video art (stuff on the internet is better than what's in galleries)" is something I came pre-equiped to agree with, and so his inability to present that idea with any formality was off-set by the self-conciousness that as a performance/lecture it may not work. This itself became the perfomance - i.e. 'my point is insubstantial, therefore I will make a big fuss about how I'm not sure if my point has any substaintiality'.

So the challenge remains. How should this have been done? What is the larger conversation/debate that wants to be had?

Wouldn't such a debate just decend into creative insecurity and an attempt to shore up the self-percieved priviliged position of the artist in an era of democratized creativity? (This last question being how I'm reading the negative reactions, btw.)


- Timothy Comeau (guest) 4-16-2009 5:14 pm


You are leaping to a conclusion about our privileged artists' position, especially on this blog. I am fascinated and thrilled by what is being made online by people who don't position themselves as artists and we post it all the time. (Also taught a studio art class at U of Guelph in current web art practises last fall and my students were subjected to some gloriously inane stuff) Artists practising online are riding pretty damn close to all the other image making.

As for a better choice for this sort of talk/performance: Joe McKay (who would rock, as I know for a fact that no one can shut him up), Guthrie Lonergan , Olia Lialina, Paddy Johnson, John Michael Boling , Tom Moody, Oliver Laric, Marisa Olson, and Harm van den Dorpel among others (if you give me more time, I'll come up with a longer list.)
- L.M. 4-16-2009 6:42 pm


Actually, I'd love to see this Paul Slocum and Guthrie Lonergan project too.
- L.M. 4-16-2009 7:50 pm


democratized creativity on the internet comes about because A) the viewers are producers and B) the viewers have agency about what they/we look at. As soon as you set yourself up in front of a captive audience and start clicking links you are opertating in a completely different paradigm.
- sally mckay 4-17-2009 1:50 am


Am enjoying the discussion. What struck me about the performance was the streak of self-loathing, either contrived or actual, in Arcangel's presentation; the fake dopeyness and the tiresome patronizing of his audience. Flirting at a safe distance with abjection or treating failure as cosmetic is too easy. There was nothing about the form or content of this performance that most of us hadn't seen or thought before and any notions of the transgressive that fuelled the presentation were truly naive. I agree that it was coy and a wasted opportunity. If Arcangel is as smart as some imagine perhaps we can look forward to a fuller expression of that smartness. This effort was a dud.
- anonymous (guest) 4-17-2009 2:57 am


"treating failure as cosmetic is too easy"

right on anonymous!
- sally mckay 4-17-2009 3:53 am


But in the future, pick a screen name because when I convert anonymous comments to kitteh-speak they can lose a bit of their sting:

AM ENJOYIN TEH DISCUSSHUN!!1 WHAT STWUCK ME ABOUT TEH PAR4MANCE WUZ TEH STWEEK OV SELF-LOATHIN EITEHR CONTWIVED OR ACTUAL IN ARCANGEL'Z PWESENTASHUN; TEH FAKE DOPEYNESZ N TEH TIRESUM PATWONIZIN OV HAIZ AUDEENCE!!1 FLIRTIN AT A SAFE DISTANCE WIF ABJECSHUN OR TWEETIN FAILURE AZ COSMETIC IZ TOO EESY!!1 DAR WUZ NOTHIN ABOUT TEH 4M OR CONTENT OV DIZ PAR4MANCE DAT MOST OV UZ HADN'T CN OR THOUGHT BE4E N ANEE NOSHUNZ OV TEH TWANSGRESSIVE DAT FUELLED TEH PWESENTASHUN WARE TWULEE NAIVE!!1 I AGREE DAT IT WUZ COEE N A WUZTED OPPORTUNITY!!1 IF ARCANGEL IZ AZ SMART AZ SUM IMAGINE PARHAPZ WE KAN LOOK 4WARD 2 A FULLAR EXPWESSHUN OV DAT SMARTNESS!!1 DIZ EF4T WUZ A DUD!!1
- L.M. 4-17-2009 4:18 am


Sorry about that, L.M., it's just that I got distracted and by the time I added my initials, it was too late. Loved the conversion though.
- v.f. (guest) 4-17-2009 5:25 am


I will say this, it is interesting to watch the various ways in which internet artists and internet art proponents have been trying to validate the practice for offline institutions. The boundary between art/non art practice is not only threatened online, but, better, the vernacular of online art is utterly entangled and engaged with non art to the point where making the distinction is pretty well completely irrelevant.

Lots of net artists and curators shift between the two contexts with grace, creating installations in galleries that reference the online discourse without trying to replicate it. Since most people who go to art galleries use the internet, references to the internet work just fine in 3D settings. One example that I like is this installation by Tom Moody, curated by Sean Dockray. Michelle Gay's Spampoet installation currently on at Birch Libralato is another, and of course L.M.'s La petite mort de l'art Video at Images Festival last year was a really elegant/WTF transfer of online imagery to a gallery setting. Arguably, most new media and video work in galleries now is in some way, unavoidably, in dialogue with internet media.

Nevertheless, there is still a problem for net artists who want to bring the challenge of art/non-art boundaries into the gallery/museum space. Same challenge activist artists faced in the 90s, and fraught with the same inherent hypocrisy. I'm not being judgemental, I understand how artists who work outside the system might change their minds at some point in their career and try to seek validation from the system. I work on both sides of the fence myself. But the structure of moving a general public discourse into the frame of art discourse means that the latter subsumes and reifies the former. And the terms of value shift.

Has anybody read At the Edge of Art by John Blais and Jon Ippolito? The book is an attempt to historicise and validate internet art, and their introduction is pretty funny. Here's a snippet from a paper I wrote recently for school. Apologies for the academic-speak (yes, I used the word 'multivalent', I was pressed for time).

They seemingly embrace the dissolution of the category “artist,” as all upstanding net artists since Alexei Shulgin must, yet they are compelled to justify the benefits of something called “art” to society at large. Their strategy is to posit a formulaic analogy, suggesting that technology is a virus and art is an antibody. They argue that art adopts the functions of technology in order to “keep up” but art is “accountable to the social body as antibodies are to the biological one. Neither viruses nor technology by themselves are accountable to the bodies within which they operate.” The analogy does not hold up. First, the authors have naturalized technology as a progressive force outside of, and unaccountable to society. Second, they describe art as a force opposing technology, rather than a technological mode in and of itself. In their obvious efforts to bolster institutional support and funding for internet art, Blais and Ipppolito ultimately fail to embrace the multivalent hybrid potential of online art, opting instead for a set of false dichotomies between art versus technology and technology versus society in order to argue that art serves society by predicting and buffering the effects of technological advance.
In my opinion, the Arcangel & Mugaas performance was a another example of this kind of strategy, an attempt to marry two distinct discourses with the goal of educating the established art world about the value of internet practice and, in doing so, sacrificing too much of the value of internet practice.

- sally mckay 4-17-2009 3:48 pm


Wow. people are talking - back and forth and so on and so on. No, I didn't have to pay - since I was also an exhibiting artist in the Images Festival. Yes, I d have my own angle in the interplay between The Net and The Art, which is not Arcangel's. But I still thought it was a sloppy and muddled presentation. But I'm such an old formalist _ I'm long slackered out.
- AJP (guest) 4-17-2009 3:59 pm


back and forth and so on and so on (more?):
Gabrielle Moser
Terence Dick
Andrew J Paterson

- sally mckay 4-17-2009 4:20 pm


This is where someone usually steps in and says "This lecture must be really important, see how much you're talking about it?" Let's just go ahead and get that out of the way.
Sally, I have skimmed the Blais/Ippolito book. It's a lengthy compendium of self-conscious "tech art" and what we're lately calling Net Art 1.0 projects.
The artists I find the most interesting from that early phase, Olia Lialina and JODI, are condensed (dispensed with?) in a short chapter under the heading "html hijinx."
Arcangel was great a few years ago on web junk and internet subcultures. Making art about previous famous art is never a good idea. The fact that it's on YouTube is a pretty weak "net art" gloss on what is essentially just riffing on past masters.
- tom moody 4-17-2009 5:59 pm


Hey I would pay $10 to see Joe McKay to 'do this sort of talk/performance'

Maybe even $15
- galenagalaxian 4-18-2009 2:37 pm


I'm interested in trying to talk about these things without the Net 1.0/2.0 dichotomy. I think the differences are a lot blurrier than before/after and I think the labels are part of an attempt to historicize online practice that is still too murky and fraught (and close) for that kind of distinction. Kind of like people who are working through modernism calling themselves postmodern, and you don't realize til later that the terms of reference are fundamentally the same. It's useful to note shifts in value and motivation, but I don't think it's useful to pose them as opposing binaries.
- sally mckay 4-19-2009 9:31 pm


I like dichotomies, they focus the mind.

Do you really want to go back to late '90s era net art? I'm supportive of the vision in L.M.'s class lesson plans--if everything is so great why didn't she go back a little further?


- tom moody 4-19-2009 11:49 pm


Too many dead links. (though Olia Lialina and JODI weren't a problem)

But seriously, it was a studio course for 3rd year students who, it turned out, didn't really even know html, (some thought they were getting a class in Dreamweaver, which I don't know how to use, or could really bother with) I was generally showing them the most technically accessible methods that I could teach in one term, while using as much open source software as I could, as well as encouraging them to use some popular web resources for their own purposes (youTube, blingee, etc)

That sort of hands-on approach didn't lend itself to an orderly narrative about web art from the early stuff to current work. (It's a bit of a gap I want to fill if I do it again)


- L.M. 4-20-2009 1:06 am


"I was generally showing them the most technically accessible methods that I could teach in one term"

Right, I sensed your excitement about the methods, it had nothing to do with the content being interesting, fun, and more than a little nuts.

For Part II: the early years, covering Heath Bunting, Thomson & Craighead, and "tactical media"--you will need to explain how blogs and bling are very self indulgent and bad, dishing up eye and brain candy for the masses. From what I've seen the first generation doesn't share your equanimity (while claiming to have done everything first).
- tom moody 4-20-2009 4:36 am


"Do you really want to go back to late '90s era net art?" uh...no. Did I give that impression?
- sally mckay 4-20-2009 4:40 am


By saying mo and poMo were close you were implicitly saying the work such as L.M. taught in her class was much like the earlier slow-loading, find-the-place-to-click-me narratives about the body or absence thereof (your phrase, one of the best in the history of criticism). Or so I took it.
- tom moody 4-20-2009 4:56 am


The fact that most of the stuff I showed in class was absolutely bonkers should go without saying. (And for the record, I am excited about web based imaging tools that are brain-dead simple yet can be subverted for one's own purposes)

To be perfectly honest, my lack of interest with a lot of the earlier stuff had to do with the strong whiff of eau de cognoscenti, self importance and laughable technical conceits (my unfortunate memories of those early days.) coupled with the difficulty of getting at those digital tools. You had to be connected to play with the expensive toys way back when, so technically accessible really means a lot to me.

The rhetoric of interactivity from the early 90's also bored me to tears, since it described the directorial with a few little options. As far as I was concerned, tools were more exciting to contemplate. (not that they don't come equipped with their little presets that manipulate the outcomes)

That said, I'm always on the lookout for earlier works that hold up now.

...but carry on with the mo & pomo argument.


- L.M. 4-20-2009 5:41 am


I am re-skimming some of Rachel Greene's book Internet Art. She seems to have been sleepwalking in some of her descriptions of the early work. She calls Lialina's 1996 piece My Boyfriend Came Home From the War an "oblique, dramatized romantic narrative" with elements of interactivity (what Sally calls "find-the-place-to-click-me").
But to hear Lialina talk about that work in a lecture here in NY it is a Dadaist goof with a pseudo narrative (what boyfriend? what war?) that made fun of the slow loading tech of the time.

Heath Bunting's King's Cross Phone In, 1994, reads to me like the prototype Net Art piece that launched a thousand Rhizome commissions. Bunting publishes a list of pay phone numbers for a London train station on the Internet with instructions to start ringing the numbers at a certain time. Passersby in London witness a "spontaneous" international phone-ringing symphony--a Situationist or Fluxus type event. It's the predecessor of the cell phone "flash mob" although Greene's 2004 book was probably too early to make that connection.

To me it says more about long-distance rates and I would assume that the "international-ness" of the calls depended on how well heeled the participants are. I'm guessing most of the calls came from within the same area code, but Greene doesn't get into the economics of it at all.

In any case that situationist stuff is mostly a great story--hearing about it is just as good as participating. That interests me considerably less than making visual art, film or music with brain dead web based tools.
- tom moody 4-20-2009 1:14 pm


I realize this is straying from Sally's point about legitimizing net art in the gallery (and the Arcangel lecture that inspired it, if inspired is the right word). For something a little more on topic, see this Rhizome post about preserving Lialina's art for posterity and note all the comment spam after I mentioned "infection" and its effect on how we view the work.
- tom moody 4-20-2009 2:27 pm


In 1996 Alexei Shulgin said this

Artists! Try to forget the very word and notion "art". Forget those silly fetishes - artefacts that are imposed to you by suppressive system you were obliged to refer your creative activity to.

[...]

Media artists! Stop manipulate people with your fake "interactive media installations" and "intelligent interfaces"! You are very close to the idea of communication, closer than artists and theorists! Just get rid of your ambitions and don't regard people as idiots, unable for creative communication. Today you can find those that can affiliate you on equal level. If you want of course.

- sally mckay 4-20-2009 2:47 pm


When I was browsing around in the 90s looking for art on the world wide web jodi was, of course, extremely impressive. But I was more excited about etoy and RTMark who were operating in the 90s activist mode of not giving a shit about boundaries between art audiences and wider publics.* If it's worth doing, and you are an artist, you are free to call it art, but it's really not necessary. The biggest, single most significant change between then and now is more people online. The tools have changed (1.0 - 2.0) as a result of increase in masses of users, not as a result of changes in art theory. The art question about whether or not to delineate a special place for artists, and if so, how to do that, remains pretty much the same, and it's always been about the same amount irritating. But it's also becoming more and more silly and irrelevant as the numbers of people invested in calling themselves artists (on the internet) diminishes in ratio to the numbers who have never heard of rhizome and couldn't be bothered. Not that that stops people like us from going on about it.

*this mode has since been codified as relational aesthetics for commodification by the art world
- sally mckay 4-20-2009 3:06 pm


But no one listened to him. How many Rhizome commission proposals this year will involve some form of "interactive media installations" or "intelligent interfaces"? Most, I'd say.
- tom moody 4-20-2009 3:10 pm


Him meaning the Shulgin quote.
I was never a fan of eToy or so-called tactical media. The '90s people have more aggressive critical apologists but in my guts I feel I'm doing something different from those artists, activists or whatever you want to call them. I do think it's a change in theory, not just tools or numbers of people online.
- tom moody 4-20-2009 3:20 pm


L.M.'s compendium is one of the best articulations we have of this new work. Nobody is presuming to alter societal norms or telling you how to experience their art--I think that's a big change.
- tom moody 4-20-2009 3:29 pm


I'm not saying everybody has to be an activist. But I do think that the significant difference between online art and artworld art is the collapse of the barrier between makers and audiences. Shulgin's manifesto poses a genuine threat to those who want to hold onto authorship and expertise, and its not a surprise that it's being shuffled under the rug.

Yes the theory is changing, but it really hasn't been very long. Only about 1.5 generations. I have problems with self-historicizing by people who are simply defending turf.
- sally mckay 4-20-2009 3:31 pm


"Nobody is presuming to alter societal norms or telling you how to experience their art" - hear hear! Yes I much prefer this climate. (And it should go without saying that I am in total agreement about the fabulousness of L.M.'s compendium)
- sally mckay 4-20-2009 3:32 pm


But who is self-historicizing? The Web Art 2.0 meme was put out there in a couple of Rhizome panels. I could take or leave it as a way to describe what I've been doing. Most of the turf-defending seems to have been coming from people who objected to the shorthand (without seriously considering the work that underlies the shorthand).
- tom moody 4-20-2009 3:56 pm


I recognize and appreciate your advocacy, Tom, and I'm not trying to argue against your theory or your strategy. There's a politics about art&audience that pre-dates the internet and continues to inflect art practice both on and offline, and it gets lost when the history is divided into two recent chunks. I don't think that politics is necessarily your concern, and I'm not saying it should be. I'm just saying why I'm thinking about dropping the 1.0/2.0 dichotomy for a bit.
- sally mckay 4-20-2009 4:19 pm


You may drop the 1.0/2.0 and I will drop the politics about art&audience. (I still think 2.0 is a leap towards resolving those politics.)
- tom moody 4-20-2009 4:52 pm


okay!
- sally mckay 4-20-2009 5:01 pm


"The tools have changed (1.0 - 2.0) as a result of increase in masses of users, not as a result of changes in art theory."
I want us to keep in mind that web 2.0 is a term that exists without any help from the art world at all. So web art that happens now is happening during web 2.0 - but that does not mean it is necessarily "Web 2.0 art". Web 2 is defined by new technology and more users, but it's also a paradigm shift (users create the content) and a marketing strategy (post .com crash - battening down the hatches).
So I can see people defining their work as web 2.0 because they are taking advantage of social networking sites, not because they are aligning themselves politically or even aware of the Rhizome discussion.
Sorry, I know you had a nice ending to the post there. Here, I'll end it the same way.

okay!
- joester (guest) 4-21-2009 5:12 pm


The reason the performance was "by the seat of your pants" is why it was good. Cory was artfully mirroring the amateur aesthetics of the internet and the pathos of electronic collaboration. That also sums up his entire practice as one of the most relevant artists alive today. It's probably one of the best performances I've ever seen.
- Jeremy (guest) 5-12-2009 1:58 pm





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