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Paddy Johnson on New Media: Why It Doesn't Suck (her title). MTAA on What a New Media Person Has to Do To Cross Over to the Gallery System (my title):
There are some new media artists who cross over and make it look easy. Cory Arcangel and Jennifer & Kevin McCoy come to mind. Arcangel succeeds by acting a bit like a ethnographer who travels into hacker culture and exports the bits that make sense to the art world. The McCoys succeed by addressing the older tradition of film and not letting themselves geek-out when addressing the art world.
Speaking as someone with a sneakerhold in both worlds, I'd rather spend my remaining dwindling critical energy explaining the sacred mysteries of the gallery universe to Internet users than trying to tell a gallery person why a spaceship flying over an endlessly scrolling videogame landscape with the caption "lol, usenet" is funny. My sense is the former crowd is genuinely curious while the latter is boastful of its own cyber-ignorance. I will, however, take a crack at defending a Net Art 2.0 piece that I happen to really like. As Paddy describes it,
[The] Guthrie Lonergan piece MySpace Intro Playlist, a curatorial project that consists of 20 [actual, found] MySpace intro videos, inspires the same questions video art has posed to the viewer for years, “Why am I watching this?” To be honest, even as someone who uses these tools on a regular basis, I still have problems figuring out what to do with this piece. It is a cabinet of curiosities I feel I'd rather see on blogger Jason Kottke’s remaindered links, than to have it exist on the more aggrandized Rhizome Timeshares page.
I'd say it's the essence of traditional video art, which deals with themes of construction of identity, guerilla theatre, acting out, and "problematizing" the medium (i.e., using it so badly it becomes self-conscious)--except there is no auteur operating the camera and doing bogus sociology. Nevertheless, as a viewer of this "artist as curator" work, as I said in an earlier post, "I feel a bit like James Stewart in Rear Window watching these normal people doing their awkward and occasionally very funny home movie bits to introduce themselves to a million total strangers. It's completely public domain but feels invasive somehow." That's the artist making me uncomfortable.

Update: In fairness to Paddy, I first encountered that piece on Lonergan's page with a link to YouTube. Some art works best "underground"--as in, you found it yourself or through a small network--and doesn't always survive an institutionally enlarged context. Cory Arcangel's Whitney Artport page is one of the few instances I can think of where an artist's anarchic sensibility completely trumped the "normalizing" effect of a museum web page.

- tom moody 8-16-2006 4:30 am [link]