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tom moody


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VVork and XYZ Art

What follows are some comments from a thread about the blog VVork. The commenters are sort of picking on that blog, including me, but there are defenses of it as well. To the extent problems are being identified with a certain type of conceptual art and a certain type of digital art related to it (particularly as represented on the Internet), VVork is a convenient focal point. I've made all the commenters anonymous since this was a casual discussion and people might not have intended for these remarks to be elevated to "formal" status--the identities are all in the thread, I just want to get at the essence of the discussion. Slightly edited--if any commenter wants to amend what's said here let me know.

* VVork makes 'clever' very unappealing, like some disease that art catches when it gets on the Internet... It's usually: "hey, i did X to Y and now it's Z...get it??!" [T]he perfect example ... is that piece where its a choir singing the NASDAQ stock exchange graph as music... Who cares? Is there anything interesting going on beyond the punchline? (..well, perhaps in the larger context of the artist's other work [which we aren't made aware of]?) VVork's format/context is ideal for one punchline after the other.. It's like Boing Boing for conceptual art. Boing Boing is to real life what VVork is to art.. But why reduce others' art into little nuggets that can be easily thrown around and reblogged and put into other random contexts on the net just like any other Internet garbage (i.e. YouTube vids of cats and sloths)??

* VVork is popular because they show lots and lots of pictures of art from around the world without a bunch of commentary. I love that! It's kind of weird how rare it is. But the structure implies a promise it can't fulfill. Unlike, say, magazine editors, bloggers have neither the resources nor the mandate to represent outside of their own cultural constructs. I think the feeling of sickness comes from the fact that we feel like we are seeing some kind of general trend, but really its just some dudes posting pictures. There are masses and masses of other art options, not to VVork's taste, crowding in the wings. If they wrote on the work, the subjective filter would become explicit, but the unique aspect of the site would be gone. If they took submissions it might get closer to an evolutionary model, but without an editorial mandate it would make no significant difference. Maybe a post-your-own art wiki would do it.

* VVork is provincial in the sense that it conveys the impression, through its sheer relentlessness, that anybody in the world can be a player as long as you're making [the type of work we're discussing]. Getting seen on VVork [might be] an alternative to "moving to New York" (which people still do, in large numbers, sorry) but everything starts looking the same because of the lack of criticality within the vehicle itself. It's a blog, as you say, not the Global Museum of Great Art. Just because they are popular does not mean they are an institution that has a responsibility to anyone. As bloggers we are free to put in our two cents about their program and they are free to listen or not as they see fit.

* Seems to be two thingies going on here, one is vvork's presentation ... the other is the.. "X - Y - Z" style of archetype vvork art. the XYZ thing is, to me, natural to computers...the data comes in, who cares from where/as what, you can do something to it, and then the data goes out - also who cares to where/as what. so you wanna take stock market info [x] and turn it [y] into music [z], or you wanna use your atari joystick [x] to change the color and placement of text [y] on a tv screen [z] or you wanna take your whatever "physical computing" sensor interface [x] and use it to turn [y] lights on an off on a building [z]...it's like every single piece ends up being just an iteration of the same translation exercise. i suppose im describing something as much NYU ITP/MIT style art as vvork art, but regardless it's one of the reasons why i don't pay much attention to any of it...and i dont make that stuff [or any interactive art] cos i dont wanna to get stuck using the rest of my life in an attempt to make the "best" XYZ.

- tom moody 4-30-2007 5:35 pm [link]