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More Damned Metablogging

Many thanks to Raphael Rubinstein for his nice piece on art blogs in the January 2005 Art in America, and for tossing this page into the mix. Dan at Iconoduel, another tossee, posted searchable text here, and still another, Joy Garnett at NEWSgrist, put up a scan. Garnett related the AinA piece to the recent Rhizome.org panel on art blogs I and other bloggers participated in, and also a research paper titled "Art Blogs: Why Such a Timid Emergence?" by Marie Omann, a masters degree student in Design, Communication and Media at the IT University of Copenhagen, which is published in .PDF form on T.Whid's and M.River's blog.

The panel and the paper tended to concentrate on how practicing artists use blogs, while Rubinstein focused more on the growing field of blog-style art journalism. Omann imposed especially tight criteria for her research subjects, requiring that the blogs be written by artists in their role as artists, have artistic content, and be updated daily. She then triangulated this activity within current sociological and media theory about the internet and its budding communities.

In brief, Omann mostly shrugs off the old-school Marxist view of Modernity as a community-destroying blight and posits art blogs as an example of "liberated communities," that is, "sparsely knit and territorially unbound communities based on individual choices." (Think fan clubs and terrorist cells.) Before the Internet, these "geographically dispersed social networks" already existed in our highly mobile, wired society--even participation in a biological family unit is increasingly seen as voluntary when its members live in different cities.

As for how well blogging fits into all this, let's just say my two cents were quoted at length so of course I think her arguments are great. But as I told Omann in a thank you email, she possibly oversold the idea of community within the world of visual art online self-publishing. Fault lines exist within this global village that are actually gaping, sulphurous chasms patched over with hopeful cyber-cement. Here are just a few of the divisions:

Print journalism (and its online variants) vs blogs. A subject of endless, mostly angry fascination among the art-journo-bloggers, and while Rubinstein has extended the olive branch of reciprocal fascination, it should probably be greeted with haughty skepticism. Just kidding, of course.
New York vs everywhere else. Another subject of endless fascination outside New York, but tedious to read. The discourse needs to rise above the level of lame us vs them conspiracy theories.
Artists vs non-artists. Shop talk steers the bus but others are welcome to listen in and back seat drive, assuming that's OK with James Elkins.
Gallery art vs new media art. Can anyone argue across this divide? Will the former please pay attention to the latter and will the latter please stop obsessing about not being paid attention to?
Blogging about art vs other stuff. It's silly to limit yourself to one subject in a medium that can tie you into any discourse at the click of a hyperlink.

This page promises to work hard to widen all these nascent, still largely unspoken rifts within the so-called community of so-called art blogs. In a friendly way.

Update: edited slightly to clarify that "NY vs Everywhere Else" whining is tedious universally, not just to New Yorkers. I hated it long before I lived here.

- tom moody 12-28-2004 12:44 pm [link]