A woman in Europe named M_____ 0______ (name permission pending) is researching "artblogs" and sent these questions to artist & blogger T.Whid. He forwarded the list and my slightly edited response is below. All this stuff vomited out, probably, because it was so shocking to see this level of interest about something American galleries usually say "huh?" about:

• After having done research on the artblog phenomena for a couple of months now, I’m surprised to find that not many artists use this media. Personally I would find it an ideal space for artistic exhibition, exploration and exchange. Do you have an explanation to this?

• What made you start blogging?

• What keeps you blogging?

• Do you perceive your blog primarily as a personal or as a professional project?

• Does your blog affect your work process as an artist?

• Do you know of other artists blogging (besides M.River)?

• Do you know of artists reading your blog?

• Do you feel part of the blogosphere? I mean do you feel part of a community of (art)bloggers?

• Have you met any problems being a blogger?

Dear M_____ O______,

The non-responsiveness of the art world to blogging is a recurring theme with me. I write from New York but the syndrome is widespread. I attribute it to several factors:

(a) somewhat rapid change in tech--just as the galleries are getting all their fancy dot-com era Flash sites up and running, this thing called blogging comes along. Worse, some bloggers make fun of the Flash sites! Galleries and artists tend to rely more on tech experts to do their updating and even if they know about blogs, not everyone has (or should have) the personality for daily ranting.

(b) art galleries (and artists who produce for them) are still stuck in the era of steam trains and butter churns. In this world, it's all about print--hard copy reviews from recognized institutional authorities that can be sent to collectors and curators. Ethereal pixeled criticism is regarded as too impermanent and likely the work of lone cranks.

(c) institutions like the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council perpetuate the divisions between gallery art and new media art by requiring painters to send in slides for fellowships, residencies, etc., whereas a new media artist can just send a URL. This idea that a photo emulsion glimpsed through a Magic Lantern contraption on a metallic screen in a dark room is the "best" or "most accurate" way to judge physical work is très 19th Century. Once the medium of information exchange changes (to URLs, etc) then metacriticism linked or patched into those resources will seem more natural.

(d) the economic (collector/donor) base of the art world includes many tech-savvy people, who stare at computer screens all day for a living and by damn, when they want to relax they don't want more screen stuff, they want to immerse themselves in the healing balm of the "old ways"--viewing pigment-impregnated vegetable oil smeared on coarse cloth; standing in a clean quiet room having elevated discourse about exquisite, handmade objects; reading elegantly typeset reviews on solid paper stock with good offset printing (see (b) above). Dealers and artists tend to follow the collectors' preferences.

(e) as T.Whid mentioned [in his response to you], many artists are quite simply tech-phobic and/or uninclined to check in on a blog. Some are excited by the idea of jpegs of their work being viewable all over the world and the subject of ad hoc critical dialogue while their shows are still up; others don't give a hoot and would rather avoid the computer and wait 9 months for an Artforum review (possibly) to come out.

Tom Moody

PS There is an emerging community of art blogs out there that tends to draw its lines of subject matter narrowly, chewing over news of museums, auction sales, gallery gossip, old school art appreciation... I'm more interested in the crossover of visual art, tech, electronic music, film, science fiction, and politics than just replicating the art world online. I sometimes get linkage from the pure art sites when I do something "out there" like criticize the Whitney, or one of the major magazines, but rarely when I just talk about a show (in Williamsburg or wherever), and never when I stray outside their specialized field of interest. I'm happy for the traffic, of course, those are just some patterns I've noticed. I do read and link to some of those blogs. As for blogs causing me "problems," I was a print critic for years so I'm already screwed. Actually the blog has been quite helpful in clarifying that my art practice and thoughts about other artists are intertwined--it was a way voluntarily to take the institutional edge off my writing.

- tom moody 6-23-2004 9:46 pm

Marie Osmond?
Even once you get the tech stuff up and running blogging takes a lot of time (underline for emphasis - not a link). A lot of artists can't aford to make work, work work, and blog - especially if thier work work and make work are away from the home computer.

I like how "his" questions were in numbers and you answered in letters. Very cool.
- joester 6-24-2004 10:01 am

"a photo emulsion glimpsed through a Magic Lantern contraption on a metallic screen in a dark room"....yay! that's a satisfying description of 35mm slides, still for some reason, a requisite format for art presentation. feh.

nice art blog encapsulation.

Mister O?

- sally mckay 6-24-2004 10:38 am

Okay, smart guy, I changed Mister O's questions to bullets (a first for this page!). I once had a job that left me no time to do art and write. Once.
- tom moody 6-24-2004 11:12 am

Hey, I posted my replies too :-) I'm not as polite as you and posted her name for a while.. I've removed it now however.

- twhid (guest) 6-24-2004 5:51 pm

Thanks--here's a link. I hope other people post their replies in your comments. I have another post in the works that continues this train of thought. Along similar lines to M.River's response, which I'm going to not-so-politely post here:

twhid: ...I'm not sure why more artists don't maintain blog-like web sites.

mriver: I'm not too sure about this. Blogs have certain limits. One of which is the question: Is your blog art or is it information about your art. I would guess that for most artist information sites have no appeal. For [the] computer artist, under the stance of open source and all that goes with it, information is interesting

M.O.: Do you perceive your blog primarily as a personal or as a professional project?

mriver: It's an art project. So again, it's hard to say what the stance makes a blog - personal / professional / or something else

M.O.: Does your blog affect your work process as an artist?

mriver: Yes, but it's hard to pin as to how. I think of the Blog as a shared (with T.Whid) and open (with anyone) sketch book. This is something odd. I know when I'm jotting down thoughts that other might read them. So, that state of being observed does change the information that I send out. Perhap more so than if I just kept some private notes on my work.

- tom moody 6-24-2004 6:26 pm

I follow a blog only because I can get more info than if I sat by the coffee table, as it is where I research online, or side table--in my case, to get a wider view of what is going on. If collectors are, and I don't personally know that they are, hunting the pulse through, and only through, regimented matter, it tells something--there is more room for collectors.
But there always is. With a very small group of thinkers and collectors in my circle I am more likely to send an email with a link with something I found through a blog=the rest they already know from other sources. 10% I get a reply with a thanks--that's a good percentage in my books.
Doesn't it come back, interestingly, to the idea of pixel curation, which has yet to be weighed in --very light and very tight, short-lived for sure, though estimated more accurate when someone has the mind for it.

- anonymous (guest) 6-24-2004 6:41 pm

i think its post studio liberation for the artist. as stated, no 2"x2" slides that never see the light of a slide projector. no editors. no "we dont like that one, tom. lets leave that out." i think it provides truer access to the artist. done properly, no trips to pearl paint, the framer, no art movers, no storage units, anyone price an artists garrett in the village or a soho (or even redhook) loft lately ? none of that. direct access to the artist is better economics.

- bill 6-24-2004 6:55 pm

It's a fun survey and it's made me very late for work. I put my answers here at MTAA.
- sally mckay 6-24-2004 6:58 pm

Just some background: twhid sent the survey around to a handful of people, some of whom cc'd him their emailed responses to the Danish student. I read some of them and they were pretty good. He is inviting those (lurking) folks to post their previously emailed answers--it is not an open call. Your responses are fine but I just want to clarify what he's asking.

- tom moody 6-24-2004 7:50 pm

I'm a dork. sorry all.
- sally mckay 6-24-2004 8:09 pm

As I've said elsewhere, the more the merrier :-)
- twhid (guest) 6-24-2004 8:15 pm

Not so much on artblogging per se, but reading this thread I found some overlap with issues I’d recently touched on regarding the nature of the web as a meeting point of public and private discourse. I see that Sally picked up on that in her comments at MTAA, which is gratifying.

My thinking in this direction has generally been more from what I’d call (for want of a better term) a spiritual viewpoint. If we have any access to spirituality, it’s not so much about another world as it is about the remoter possibilities of this one. At this time the web seems to offer a vision of hope for our communications, and artblogging, I suppose, offers hope for improving the status of art-related discourse, which many of us think needs some sort of kick in the butt.

As far as actual art goes, it’s harder to say. Bill gets to it with the idea of “post studio liberation” which borders on spiritual talk. The spiritual problem is always that it turns out to be a sort of shell game, with each level of attainment leading to a new level of ignorance. It can turn into a hall of mirrors, like Tom making fun of the old slides while worshiping at the altar of old-tech high-tech like MS Paint. The problem is that we continue to have to work through some sort of medium, whether it’s ocher in oil or code composed of symbolic digits. Psychedelicist Terence McKenna used to talk about the possibilities of visual language, but even that only leads to another vision: of visible thought. In heaven there is total transparency; everyone knows everything about everyone; ideas play out without the messy resistance of a medium, and things become so obvious that we all end up in agreement.
But it looks like it’s going to take an awful lot of messy talking and making to get to that point. Should be fun.

- alex 6-24-2004 9:54 pm

Alex that's beautiful. J., J., and A., (backseat bloggers, ie: reading over my shoulder) agree. A. says, "that's having your cake and eating it too, which is the way it should be."
- sally mckay 6-24-2004 10:51 pm

Gee, thanks. And I’m really only teasing Tom; we can’t avoid these sorts of contradictions, and in fact they’re the source of the tensions that actually force us to figure something out.
Visa vi the web, I suppose there’s quite a gap between artists working in “old fashioned” media and those working in digital media that are at home here. There’s a big difference between having your work online or having pictures of it online. Talking about slides and such reminds me of how much of my experience (especially my introductory experience) with art has been through reproductions; I’ve never really seen many of my favorite paintings. Being in NY and looking at stuff like Minimalism (which had a certain resistance to reproduction) served as a sort of “reality therapy.” Time and distance change art, though I don’t think they disable it. Our experience of an ancient carving in a museum is certainly different than the original audience’s, but we are still engaged. The web is changing our experience of time and distance, and who can guess at all the possibilities in that?

- alex 6-24-2004 11:40 pm

I knew you were kidding but I've been giving some thought to reconciling the apparent contradiction of dissing slides while using MSPaint. I'd say both make fun of the cultural lust for the "perfect copy," whether it's the shuddering sensitivity that insists on analogue projection to gauge delicate wisps of glaze, or the graphics geek addictively demanding more resolution! more resolution! This gets into what you're saying about the therapeutic slap of seeing minimalist art in situ.

Also, this is the second time someone's called my interest in old tech a religion: it's the price you pay for having convictions in a post-relativistic artworld. The second post about "artblogs" I'm working on touches on some of the other issues you raised.
- tom moody 6-24-2004 11:55 pm

There is a digital artist showing here in town, big photoshop collaged work printed out in inks on paper as massive high rez panels. Someone complained to me that this kind of image needs to be backlit in order to really pop, and I thought the comment was an interesting indicator of how images on screens are becoming yet one more medium available to us. I agree, by the way. My preference is to see work that was generated on the computer, on the computer display. One reason is as sort of purist 'truth to materials' response that is my own problem to get over, the other is simply that light renders colour so much better than ink does. I'll take RGB over CMYK any day.
- sally mckay 6-25-2004 12:08 am

CMYK is such a miserly gamut. And it's soooo hard to get the pixels to move on paper.

To a certain extent, web art is an extension of Sol Lewitt's approach of writing instructions to allow others to recreate art works. Because you're not posting images. You're posting code that instructs browsers how to construct a rendering of an image. The art is the instructions. "Algorithmism"?

- mark 6-25-2004 2:01 am

Hey, I said that! About one artist in particular...

- tom moody 6-25-2004 6:20 am

Yes you did. I vaguely had that post in mind. Messing around with PHP scripts to programatically generate JPEGs (which again are just instuctions to a machine) got me thinking again about the instruction/algorithm idea.
- mark 6-25-2004 9:10 am

Hey, as long as Tom is mentioning me again (http://www.digitalmediatree.com/tommoody/?23146 and/or http://www.digitalmediatree.com/tommoody/?23964), thank you very much, (and BTW, I have found both of these posts extremely provocative, full ideas I've barely reckoned with in my work), please let me post the URL for my main weblog: http://chrisashley.net/weblog, which is a change since his posts.

Now, I wish I had something smart to say besides marketing myself, but it's late and I'm tired. So I'll say something I've been saying for the last couple of years: my weblog is a studio, a gallery, and an archive. My weblog gives me a regular deadline. I must produce. The work gets shown. It accumulates. I can easily look back at what I've done, pull it out and reuse or remake it. In my case, in particular, the drawings I make in HTML are embedded in each post, there are no other files. The page is the image. The material of my art is HTML, that of the web (well, somewhat; I don't bother with XHTML, CSS, layers, Javascript, etc., but you get the idea). I like HTML because it's simple, and easy to learn. It feels democratic, like basic literacy.

Having even a small audience for the weblog makes me productive in a way that sitting in my studio making things on paper or whatever just doesn't inspire. My weblog has acquainted me with artists with whom I engage in regular dialogue in ways that just wouldn't have been possible before. My weblog puts my production totally under my own control. I make it, I show it, I give it away, it has a public life.

I am surprised that I don't see more artists treating the weblog as an art medium, rather than as a more standard medium for writing in a journalistic, critical, or organizational mode. Am I missing them? And, I have to say, most photoblogs don't count for me as a use of the weblog as an art medium.
- chrisashley 6-25-2004 10:36 am

Not sure if it's art, but it's algorithmic. (3000 randomly sized, placed and colored circles.)

Started down a completely different path, wanting to emulate Chris' HTML color blocks using PHP alpha blending. But alas, the version of PHP on tulip.he.net doesn't support that feature. There's a way around, I think, but not tonight.
- mark 6-25-2004 1:43 pm

To continue the tanget away from the core topic ...

The GIF standard, or specifically the LZW patent, will become free on July 7, 2004. Once a GIF toolkit is back in PHP, I could imagine automatically generated animation, rather than the automatically generated still image linked above.

dancing dots 2 dancing dots 1 dancing dots 2
- mark 6-26-2004 7:05 am

I think most artists don't do blogging or "digital art" is because they don't have computers or don't want to spend the time it takes to learn the applications.
Thortoons Temporary Invasion of Freedumb Space
This isn't exactly a blog, but it seems to be updated often. They are interactive animations, mostly political in nature. Very entertaining and disturbing.
- Abraham Kalashnikov 6-30-2004 5:05 am

Damn, the spammers are forcing me to close all my best threads! They tend to be the long ones, with lots of URLs. Sorry, all, I had to close this.
- tom moody 3-13-2007 1:33 am