"Each pattern has the maximum complexity and 'resonance' for the minimum number of frames."

OptiDisc Installation small Paddy Johnson is interviewing me and Michael Bell-Smith this week about our shows; I hope you'll check it out.
"Geeks in the Gallery" is a three part discussion with artists Michael Bell-Smith and Tom Moody, which will run on Art Fag City from Monday June 12 – Wednesday, June 14, 2006. A recurring theme of the talk is how technology informs artistic production, as both artists have individually exhibited work usually described as New Media, yet also seem somewhat skeptical of "tech art." Moody’s "Room Sized Animated GIFs" at artMovingProjects in Brooklyn is comprised of animated GIFs projected or displayed on variable sized CRT monitors/tube televisions, plus a looping movie of the artist performing a computer-fabricated (but realistic-sounding) "guitar solo." The show dates are May 5th – June 25, 2006; it can also be viewed online on the artist's site. Bell-Smith's exhibit "Focused, Forward" closed last week at Foxy Production Gallery and included digital animations steeped in the aesthetics of '80s and '90s video games, a print depicting collaged patterns that create a virtual Tower of Babel, and a game table-like video sculpture with a simulated radar graph of birds circling over the White House. Show dates were April 27 – June 3, 2006; it can be viewed online at foxyproduction.com. [...]
Some thoughful comments were made in response to my "preview remarks" about the interview and the general topic of "showing new media art in the gallery." I've replied to a couple of those, in the comment(s) to this post--anyone is welcome to chime in about that ongoing thread or the interview.

L.N.R., reBlogging at Eyebeam, makes the observation about the preview remarks: "Self indulgent, but interesting questions."

Michael Bell-SmithMichael Bell-SmithMichael Bell-Smith

- tom moody 6-12-2006 9:19 am

Me, a couple of posts back:

"By putting the GIFs in the gallery (as videos), I'm making an immaterial art that is highly context dependent--depending on the shape of the room, lightness or darkness of walls and floor, and acoustics (for pieces with sound). I want the viewer to recognize the almost joke-like simplicity of the imagery...and reflect on the mechanisms of the GIFs as well as the mechanisms of the white cube."
Robert Huffman says, "...I think there may be a logical inconsistency here. The white cube is not the environment of the .gif. Can Net.art effectively critique and explore gallery space? I suppose we shall see, however, "If you wanted to make a motion picture you wouldn't use stone." -Antony Gormley.

Robert, that's one issue we talk about in the interview. I would say the history of art, especially since the early 20th Century, has consisted of translation and "cross-pollination" among media. Imagism/Vorticism revitalizing poetry with ideas from painting, "art aspiring to the condition of music," and so forth. It's inevitable that GIFs are going to find their way into the gallery, and that gallery ideas will find their way into GIFs. I'm trying to make it more inevitable.

When a GIF is blown up to wall size you can barely help "reflecting on its mechanisms"--every pixel is as big as your head (I'm exaggerating). And when you have a few screens casting an overall blue glow on the gallery, with practically nothing else in the room except the white walls, overhead pipes, wires on the floor from gear, etc., you can barely help "reflecting on the gallery space."
- tom moody 6-12-2006 5:48 pm

More from Robert Huffman a couple of posts back:

The difference between gallery and net, as I see it? The work is created to exist, interact within, deconstruct its enviroment, whether we are talking about Richard Jackson or jimpunk. I would say Tom's push-pin pieces do an admirable job in the gallery, mechanisms are reflexively revealed as I believe he intended. But as we have seen in recent posts, Tom has had some trouble reconcilling gallery vs. net for his gifs. He has mentioned technical issues and quality of image, even posted images of the gifs as frame stills; but I am addressing the more conceptual issue Tom raised, that being truth to materials.
I don't think you can really say I've "had some trouble reconcilling gallery vs. net for his gifs" without seeing the show. Most of the "lack of reconciliation" I've complained about is that the Net is inadequate to document art that exists independently in physical space.

As for "technical issues and quality of image"-- I believe I've used the "problems" proactively by transferring the GIFs to video and showing them on tube TVs (or projecting them). They're not as "pristine" as they are on the computer but they're not trying to be. It's a translation, or regression, of media, with inevitable errors that are part of the work.

One of the dangers of discussing process or a learning curve on the blog is it gives a lingering impression of "unresolved issues." Anything I obsessed about on the blog got resolved at the gallery stage. At least that was the feedback I heard.

- tom moody 6-13-2006 3:31 am

On the subject of net art - I think one of the issues that net art has to deal with when transposed to the gallery is that "the white cube" imposes systems of evaluation that we use for more traditional mediums, and I'm not convinced that those results are always that useful. A good example of this was illustrated very literally in the 2004 Whitney Biennial, where the wall text written about the work of Cory Arcangel, described his piece as being something spun from the history of painting. I don't see modernist painting having much to do with his work, and I think the work suffers when it is supposed to be evaluated in the same ways you look at a painting. Net art doesn't function this way, and like it or not the onus is on net artists to explain why it doesn't, so that it doesn't continue to be interpreted in ways that don't make any sense.

I suspect most net artists would prefer that their work stand on its own in a gallery setting without having to write a manifesto (or as Tom suggests publishing a podcast) explaining how and why it functions, but I don't think we're at that stage yet. Minimalists had to do the same thing - and it caught on.....eventually. I don't feel it's particularly useful to say that net art doesn't function well in gallery, site a show you've never seen and leave it at that. I believe there is some obligation on the part of those offering criticism to propose a more creative solution than "it will never workť."

- Paddy Johnson 6-13-2006 6:31 am

Oh, don't cry FOUL!, "has had" is past tense, and you did, so I can. I didn't mean to imply that you had not resolved these issues to your satisfaction. The point I was making is only that the .gif work was not made to critique a gallery, which, I think, is why you had to go through that process to decide how to display them. If you had solved that before creating the work there might not have been any problem (truth to materials). Transferred to video? Well let's look at video art. I think it took video playing off an object (relating to your comment on media cross-pollination) , as with Oursler or Viola for example, for video to really engage a gallery space (and an audience for that matter), perhaps Net art will find a similar solution to it's inadequacy with documenting itself in a physical space. But that solution should be found first so it resonates fully within the piece, in my opinion. Anyone who isn't familiar should take a good look at Blast Theory to see some creative and logical solutions for illustrating tech-heavy concepts within a physical space. (I think this is being called Navigational art by people like Joselit.)

Tom wrote-
"4. Conceptualism in art also seeks to peel back the control mechanisms, to dismantle or parse the aura of the white cube and the mercantile systems underlying art (and therefore information) exchange."

-Here is where we got started. This comment is only true when it is the artists intention to do so, and not a convienent side-effect when the work is displayed, because at that point it isn't seeking to do anything, it just stumbled into a purpose. (I'll show that Nathaniel Sterne who the bitchiest blogger is)

"6. By putting the GIFs in the gallery (as videos), I'm making an immaterial art that is highly context dependent--depending on the shape of the room, lightness or darkness of walls and floor, and acoustics (for pieces with sound). I want the viewer to recognize the almost joke-like simplicity of the imagery (but not "overly simple," that's where the interviewer and I initially disagreed) and reflect on the mechanisms of the GIFs as well as the mechanisms of the white cube."

My response, in part-
- I call this a convienent conclusion because by changing "immaterial" to "ephemeral" and "GIFs" to "paintings" you could be explaining your MSPaintbrush pieces.

"The ideas come from the context (as you illustrated above), something almost always taken into account in the realization of Conceptual works. A small, but noteworthy difference, would you agree?"
- by this I only mean that the context the work would operate in helps to decide how the work will be realized, in good Conceptual practice (something tells me I am going to regret typing that).

So you are saying that by putting the .gif in a gallery you have created an artwork? Or did that artwork already exist on your computer? Does the gallery make the piece complete? Or does it make a new work? If I take your .gif file, say the Opti Disc, and project it onto the side of a building, the tallest in Omaha (which is a bank ha ha), will I have created a new artwork? Would you allow context to be so tyrannical? I may be a young fogey, forgive me, but I think good practice starts with context. This is why I consider your paper work to be so incredibly tight.

Just to clarify, I have not seen your current exhibit and did not intend for my comments to be read as a criticism of that show. I am only discussing the preview notes to the interview and your conclusions regarding hackers, Minimalism, and Conceptual art. You know Tom, I am working to get .gifs into institutions as well (the non-profit kind), and this discussion will help me to shape how I frame that exhibit within a proposal where sales are not necessary, but sound reasons for exhibiting the work over something more traditional most certainly are. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to hash out my concerns with you and your readers.

- Robert Huffmann (guest) 6-13-2006 7:23 am

Okay, I appear to have missed the latter part of this conversation. Um, please bear that in mind when reading the above comment.
- Paddy Johnson 6-13-2006 7:53 am

I don't think you missed anything. This conversation started with my "laundry list," but Robert is referring to things I've posted on the blog over a period of time. The crying foul part refers to a more strident early draft I wrote of my comment above. Sorry to go all Orwellian on y'all and soften it, but my first drafts aren't usually my best.

I'm not sure three people can even agree on a list of basic tenets of conceptual art, or a list of basic tenets of "net art," much less how to begin to compare them. I started with the physical and spatial aspects of both because my instincts *are* still those of a painter.

You're right that talking about Barnett Newman should have been pretty far down the list as far as evaluating Cory, but such considerations would be higher up the list in my case.

As far as the GIFs being context-dependent and whether they'd work on the side of a building in Omaha, I'd like to use my experience of hanging this exhibition, the back and forth thought process I went through with the gallery, as an "object lesson." I need a little time to write that narratve so it's of general interest and not merely self indulgent.
- tom moody 6-13-2006 8:14 am

Yeah, I was wondering who you were directing those comments at, Paddy. I am not sure anyone in this conversation has stated that net art in a gallery will never work. We started this a couple of posts back so maybe you missed the beginning. Anyway, I do want to ask you if you consider Net art a movement like Minimalism or simply a media like painting? From your comment it sounds as though you do. Couldn't there be a distinction between a Pop oriented digital practice(Cory Arcangel) and a Minimalist digital practice(Moody)? Then we have the issue of those who write the code, those who manipulate existing code, and those who simply use the end-user software. A gaming cartridge hack, like Arcangel's Super Mario World, isn't Net.art. proper, but his recent Suicide Letter vs.GoogleAdSense certainly is. Both works bring to mind various Post Structuralist ideas. I think a convincing argument could be made that he is mining a Post Modernist vein; appropriation, equating of high and low cultures, etc.
Can these works be assessed like a painting? Well, not formally, but why would anyone want to? However they can be related to through cultural theory, the same theories that underpin most painting from the last 30 or so years.
- Robert Huffmann (guest) 6-13-2006 8:40 am

Tom- I didn't intend for this to turn into a critical response to your work. I started out using your work as an example in my response to Paul regarding net based vs. gallery based Conceptualism. I picked up that ball and I ran with it, possible to far. Rather than a narrative regarding your thought process, perhaps we should turn back to that original laundry list.

"(i) what is the hacker aesthetic? (ii) what is the "gallery aesthetic"? (iii) how can these aesthetics be commingled? and most importantly, (iv) how can the viewer be made to understand these ideas just from viewing the work itself, without a podcast to explain it?"
- Robert Huffmann (guest) 6-13-2006 9:11 am

No, you don't get to retreat now, after you've busted me with my past writings to suggest that the thought process I arrived at in the course of this show was a convenient ex post facto grafting of former ideas onto some kind of intellectually suspect current theory. (smiley emoticon) I think I'm up to defending myself--I wouldn't do it, except others might have reached the same conclusions you did based on just seeing installation jpegs. I'm not mad--you raise some good points, even though I don't think "the theory" came about the way you're suggesting it did. My hope is that in a brief narrative I can continue to cover (i) through (iv). I just have to write it.
- tom moody 6-13-2006 9:32 am

No retreat, no surrender Tom. I just wanted to say that my conclusions are based on point #6 on your list, not installation jpegs of your current exhibit. I'll be waiting for the giant shoe to drop out of the clouds.
- Robert Huffmann (guest) 6-13-2006 10:39 am

No giant shoe. You're saying that the GIFs predated the show as Internet pieces and therefore could "not [have been] made to critique a gallery." But the targets and molecules started out as reflexive objects (photocopy "paintings" and installations), were translated into moving versions that first appeared on the Net and were disseminated as "Net art" before being repurposed as videos that went back, reflexively, into the gallery environment. The quality of the "reflection" changed but the critique has been continuous.
- tom moody 6-13-2006 5:15 pm

I'm with you there regarding pieces like "timelapsemolecule" or "exit Maurice", but I wasn't aware "eyeshades", for example, was created that way.
- Robert Huffmann (guest) 6-13-2006 6:04 pm

Here's a sequence (1998-2006). Eyeshades uses fill patterns because thinking about Cory's and Jamie's Infinite Fill Show reminded me I used to make that kind of stuff with MacPaint.

JCCC installation 2
Disc 1999

Eye B&W

OptiDisc Installation

- tom moody 6-13-2006 6:55 pm

On the subject of Net Art being a movement - I think it is, and I find it annoying that few people seem to be talking about it. Yes, work looks very different, but there are all sorts of examples of artists whose work would get labeled as part of movements, but whose art was broader than the scope of that movement. Picasso - started cubism, made all sorts of surrealist etc paintings. Duchamp - Dada, - never even considered himself a Dadaist, ditto for Jim Dine and Pop. There are always a few people who fit neatly into these catagories, but many don't, and they are often the figure heads of these movements.

I don't see that many people out there who are willing to take the risk of actually naming a movement again. Saltz went "way out on a limb" to name the most irrelevant movement in history (clusterfucks), and that's the best we get.

If you take a look at the music industry, anyone who does anything remotely different has a movement/genre named to describe their sound. Some of them stick, some of them don't. I feel that natural process of selection might help the art world. It's not that there aren't movements to name, it's that we don't.

I think a convincing argument could be made that he is mining a Post Modernist vein; appropriation, equating of high and low cultures, etc.

Sure, but it's always been my feeling that post modernism as a label is of limited use, and that it's current use value is deminishing. I mean everyone does this, and has been doing so for some time. It's like applying a label in your gmail account to every email you receive. It's not much good as a method of sorting.

Of course, if we were to truly keep the methods of Internet use in mind when we were to name an art movement, it probably wouldn't happen. If google tells us anything, it's that presorting is of little value. I suppose if we are to keep this in mind, we might call the movement net art, but then we'd add tags for each artist. This way we could have a discussion panel that might finally escape the titling of the latest version of some stupid psuedo software program, and also be a little more specific (net art < animated GIFS >< Appropriation >< Invention >). Not very elegant, but it works.
- Paddy Johnson 6-13-2006 7:32 pm

To which I would add, though, that Net Aesthetics 2.0 (incl. blogs, streaming media, kitsch) is way more interesting than version 1 (social sciences projects swaddled in techspeak).
- tom moody 6-13-2006 7:45 pm

I notice Paul Chan is on the cover of this month's Artforum. Does that mean the art world is embracing cybercontent?

I think probably not. To be perfectly gloomy, the Paul Pfeiffers and Paul Chans are a digital bells-and-whistles sideshow to the bigger cycles of painting (Schnabel), conceptualism (Rirkrit) and painting (Shutz), that grind on ad infinitum.
- tom moody 6-13-2006 8:15 pm

One note, ironically, my use of tags to illustrate my point on Net Art didn't work the first time around because the site read them as such - and thusly rendered them invisible.
- Paddy Johnson 6-13-2006 8:30 pm

Doing a quick skim through that Chan article--I'd say Bell-Smith and he are similar but Bell-Smith is more interesting because the work is visually epigrammatic and ambiguous--you don't get all the grim back story and un-subtle politics. Also, I'd take Cory's found Bomb Iraq game over Chan's preachiness.
- tom moody 6-13-2006 8:34 pm

We could sure use some official names for the different kinds of digital/electronic/net art. It would definitely make conversing about it easier, and make us sound more important!

I use: "lofi", "ars electronic-ish", "dorkbot-style", "bent", "pop", "top 40", "musuem of science and history", "information remapping", "sucky".
- paul (guest) 6-13-2006 9:43 pm

Those are good--I'll try to think of some more. A friend with an MFA and an engineering background said for geeks art basically came down to "it's cool" or "it's shit." Oh--instead of "museum of science and history" I say "Exploratorium."
- tom moody 6-13-2006 9:58 pm

Paddy- No one is talking about it because that conversation occured 6 years ago. When the hype died down, I think most people realized that code is the same as paint or clay. Media that is not object oriented often needs it own catagories, as with film and video. Perhaps code based work will as well. My favorite "new" genre associated with the net and code would be Generative art. What defines a movement is how and for what purpose media is used, not who is associated with it. I may be wrong about that.

I did not mean to use PoMo as a label to define an artists work. I am only saying that the cultural and anthropological theories (as well as their place in the context of art history) that inform our appreciation of painting can and should be used to assess code derived work, because this is where we will find the similarities in how the works function.

"everyone does this"- no they don't. Many young artists have shown a sincere return to "pure" formalism.

Clusterfuck aesthetic is "the most irrelevant movement in history" ! Wow! You are not afraid to go out on a limb. I like the cut of your jib. I don't agree, but I can certainly appreciate a bombastic comment. I do not consider Sarah Sze or Jason Rhoades to be irrelevant. But you are probably NOT implying that.

As to the music industry model, well that just plays into marketing, and I have a knee-jerk reaction against anything as crass as that.

Tom- Thanks for the sequence. I can see were you're coming from now.

I think the artworld has embraced cyber-content, at least on the artist level. I like to think we are the artworld, not the pompus stuff-shirts at Artforum. (Please don't shatter my terrarium, it's comfortable in here)

Paul Chan. I grew up with him. His gallery bio says he was born in Hong Kong and now resides in NYC, but he spent his formative years (from age 5 to 18) in Omaha, NE. Five years ago he came into a gallery I was working at and showed me his "30,000 years..." piece. I didn't like it, it was so conciously derivitive I had to take him to task. His response was, " I worked 3 years on that" !! (I had to show him a painting I spent 2 years on). He actually tried to make a case that Henry Darger (who he had blatantly ripped off, even bragging about it in the title, like it was a flag to signify insider credibility!, but it seems like all Chicago educated kids pimp Dargers legacy) was the first digital artist!! (how convienent, as the work is a digital projection!) This was before he was included in his first group show at Greene Naftali, the one Roberta Smith singled him out from and wrote such a glowing review. I have felt like the guy that didn't sign the Beatles ever since. I wonder if he would have become such a festival juggernaut if Smith hadn't written that article? Good to read an unfavorable criticism of his work, I certainly couldn't get away with it, personal history and all. And yeah, Arcangel stomps him. True genius can accomplish much with very little.

- Robert Huffmann (guest) 6-13-2006 10:31 pm

I am aware that this conversation happened six years ago, but I don't have to be happy with its results. I think we have licence to revisit issues when necessary, and I believe there have been enough changes over the last six years to reopen this can of worms. Maybe I'm wrong about this, but I do feel like net art is currently being applied interchangeably as a term for a medium and a movement and it makes things a little messy. Maybe "net art" isn't the right name for the movement, but I think we should do some serious thinking about what is going on. Unfortunately I have not proven myself to be the most brilliant at naming these sorts of things (though Tom and Paul certainly are). The only thing I've ever been able to come up with for a genre is "found-tech".

On subject of "everyone does this", limbs and bombastic statements - I understand that I have not put things in the most precise manner, but it's clear you understood my meaning. I think there is something to be said for measured response, but in the comments section of a blog it sort of takes the fun out of things. I invite you to look forward to a slew of overly bombastic statements in the future.

On the subject of music industry and marketing. Yes, there is an element of marketing to it, but you make it seem like this is the only reason for naming a genre. Patti Schmidt makes a regular practice of this on Brave New Waves, and she's not selling anything. I don't buy that argument for a minute.

- Paddy Johnson 6-13-2006 11:09 pm

Re: Chan, I saw that same group show, and thought the piece was nice, despite that the Darger reference was tired. I suppose I had a "wait and see" attitude. As for him becoming a festival juggernaut, I have some thoughts on that, but I'll give the shreds of my career a break.

I totally missed "clusterfuck"--how unfortunate for those artists to have such a horrible word associated with them. Whoops, there go the shreds.

Coming back to Paul's list, I was going to add Generative, thanks, Robert. Also Faxel (Paper Rad), Gameboy, Gamers, 8-Bit, Reaktor Klub, Worth1000, Bryce (Creepy Clown), Pixel Art, Depthcore, POV Raytracing, MaxMSP, Subgenius, Flash (Homestar), GPS-based, flash mobs, Wireless, Glitch (Karl Klomp)...

There should be a name for Quicktime/YouTube Performance (acting out) vids.
- tom moody 6-13-2006 11:10 pm

My crack at a list of terms and genres: "Found-tech", "sucky" or "suckage", "ready-image"...uh I don't know...I'll have to think about this some more.
- Paddy Johnson 6-13-2006 11:23 pm

I think we're talking more along the lines of the 20 different flavors of house music, not marketing words for Big Four execs like "Rap" and "Heavy Metal". And I'd argue that the mainstream art market is only a little less gross than the Big Four anyway.
- paul (guest) 6-13-2006 11:29 pm

Those are good. "Found-tech" would cover a lot of my microgenres, except most of them aren't self-aware the way gallery art is.

Just finished reading Calvin Tomkins' great Rauschenberg bio. On the subject of art historical also-rans, Ivan Karp's trial balloon name for what eventually became Pop was "Commonism." uggh

And then there was Kootz Gallery's "the Intrasubjectives" for AbEx...

- tom moody 6-13-2006 11:34 pm

No Paddy, what I am saying is that you get to name an "ism" when you can list some basic tenents holding the different artworks together under your chosen rubric. Right now I think the only thing we can agree on is that it is all built from symbolic logic. "Symbolic Logicalism"? To clunky....and that's like putting Brice Marsden and Kent Bellows together under the rubric of "Paintism". It just doesn't get to the point. Generative art is very well defined. Navigational art is as well. How does Arcangel define "dirt-style"?
- Robert Huffmann (guest) 6-14-2006 12:00 am

There used to be a page that totally explained dirt style but the person who originally put it up (not Cory, although he was a contributor), allowed it to drop off the Net. Or so the legend has it...
- tom moody 6-14-2006 12:10 am

The gallery press release described me as a "central figure in New Media"--I went along with it, figuring it would raise the hackles of the largest number. I'm a creature of the gallery world, though, who started spending a lot of time with his computer and actually admits it.
- tom moody 6-14-2006 12:14 am

To the interview-

Paddy asked- "Why is using technology to bring together original and appropriated imagery so engaging?"

There was a resident at the Bemis last year named Bob Koons who did just this. He begins by appropriating romantic, representational landscape painting sources and scans them as digital files, manipulating them into abstract images. (Bleeding the colors and tweaking them to unnatural hues). Koons then meticulously copies these images by hand back into the analog format of a painting.
In Bob's words- “The resulting object weaves back and forth between a natural and artificial presentation of landscape and between abstraction and representation." But they do more than that. They take the work of Constable, Turner, Freidrich and point at the inherent "falsness" of their images, in my mind neatly showing that there is no "natural" representation of a landscape. He could just do this anyway without the digital file, but the file acts as the language that "translates" how the work is seen. A rather neat metaphor to illustrate the notion of a historical horizon, as well as the idea that all painting is inherently abstract. You can see examples on the Sandy Carlson Gallery website.

How does this relate to the interview? I think it is a good example of how the "cross-pollination" of media can bring about new ways to illustrate ideas in a subtle manner. I also like the idea that wedding appropriated and original imagery through technology is like watching TV in Asia, or having your friend explain "Eraserhead". It adds that extra layer of distance between you and the source allowing the message to be that little bit more uncertain.

Just my thoughts. Really good interview so far, I'm looking forward to the conclusion.
- Robert Huffmann (guest) 6-14-2006 12:46 am

However, when I say "art world" I don't mean "us" but rather the five people here in New York who decide who will be the next "festival juggernaut."
- tom moody 6-14-2006 12:46 am

Could you introduce me to those five people Tom?
- Robert Huffmann (guest) 6-14-2006 12:48 am

Paul: Thanks for clearing that up - that's what I meant. And I agree that the gallery version of this is only a little less gross.

Tom: I know, I had that page book marked. I really think Cory should put it back up - it was my understanding that he made that page himself. He didn't mention he was working with anyone else on this - and I think the page had a picture of him on it on the front, didn't it? Maybe I'm making this up....it doesn't exist anymore.

Robert: Fine, net art isn't an ism. You win - but I can do without the condescension. My point still stands that we could use a few more official names for what gets made.
- Paddy Johnson 6-14-2006 12:53 am

I could, but then you would have to hang out with them...
- tom moody 6-14-2006 12:54 am

It was my understanding that the person who made it has the initials JP. It was for a class or something. Cory played "Prof C Dirt" and contributed text and ideas. I saw the term Dirt Style in one of those Captivate elevator news readers, as "up and coming lingo." They got it from Wired, I think. That's another one for the list--viral/contagious media.
- tom moody 6-14-2006 12:58 am

That makes sense - I think he did say something about a class - I think he also had a class submit a design for "black people love us.com"...which subsequently won.
- Paddy Johnson 6-14-2006 1:33 am

Let the record reflect that Robert saw the installation shots of my show and my post on "digital non-sites" after he fired off the AK-47 in response to my "laundry list." His criticisms are good and appreciated nonetheless--although his comment to Paddy about the "isms" did sound condescending. We're all working on this together. Communicating in comments is hard.
- tom moody 6-14-2006 7:50 pm

My apologies all around.
- Robert Huffmann (guest) 6-14-2006 11:04 pm

If we could get back to those original questions Tom raised-(i) what is the hacker aesthetic?

This is tough for me. You draw a parallel to Minimalism. The works of artists like Paul B. Davis and Emma Davidson, see www.myspace.com/damyspacehustlerz for a current example, or Paper Rad for instance, seem packed full of extraneous code. They seem to revel in it. Am I wrong in thinking of these artists as utilizing a "hacker aesthetic"? Can anyone site a code based work that would more clearly illustrate this idea to me? (jimpunk, jodi.org?)
- Robert Huffmann (guest) 6-14-2006 11:51 pm

extraneous code = post minimal or process orientation?
- bill 6-15-2006 12:08 am

"Packed full of extraneous code" is not the same as "visually hyperactive."

Paul's and Cory's early writings were all about making art at the fundamental level rather than relying on proprietary software, which is usually full of DRM and useless manufacturer bells and whistles. Cory has since taken a softer line on Flash because so much good web trash (and art) is made with it.

MIT media lab dude John Maeda also talks about careful (i.e., I assume, not confusing, not wasteful) programming by artists, although I'm not wild about his "gallery art." I'm sure we could google around and find discussions equating good hacking with a reductive aesthetic.
- tom moody 6-15-2006 1:15 am

For purposes of illustrating my argument I would use "Nintendo Clouds" or John Simon's "Every Icon" as symbolic of a "hacker aesthetic." Or Michael Bell-Smith. His work is not messy or cluttered. Half the time that hyperactive stuff is just naive art without any self awareness of being naive. (Not talking about Paper Rad, who have art school backgrounds.)

jodi.org and jimpunk, definitely. They do everything for a reason, or at least aren't bamboozling us with the "high end" capabilities of commercial software like Photoshop. jodi's Max Payne Cheats Only doesn't involve coding, just Xtreme fucking around with the "cheats" that are already in the game.
- tom moody 6-15-2006 1:44 am

naive=unintentionally dirt style
- tom moody 6-15-2006 2:21 am

Intentional naivete=dirtstyle=paul's rubric "kitsch"?

"Packed full of extraneous code" is not the same as "visually hyperactive."
How is a viewer to understand this if it is only evident in the process and not necessarily the finished product?
- Robert Huffmann (guest) 6-15-2006 4:03 am

"Can anyone site a code based work that would more clearly illustrate this idea to me? (jimpunk, jodi.org?)"

Maybe Alex's stuff:



The issue of proprietary software is complicated. You can write straight 6502 assemgbly code, but you're still riding on top of the 6502 processor architecture and Nintendo's graphics chip. And the reason there are so few homebrew NES cartridges produced is because even as of now, nobody has fully been able to reverse engineer the NES lockout chip. Considering this, in some ways you're more "free" running the open source GCC compiler and Linux on a modern PC.
- paul (guest) 6-15-2006 7:27 am

Here is Every Icon. I mention this in the upcoming movie 8-Bit* as a link between Sol Lewitt and 8-Bit works such as Nintendo clouds. Because it gets the point across so nicely visually.

*directed by Marcin Ramocki and produced by Justin Strawhand

and "kitsch" was me--in the Net Aesthetics 2.0 definition. I was thinking more of "America We Stand As One" but enjoyably bad web pages would also be included.
- tom moody 6-15-2006 7:52 am

GCC Compiler.
- tom moody 6-15-2006 8:04 am

You see Nintendo clouds as an exercise in permutation? What would you guys make of Scott Blake, http://www.barcodeart.com/, who I have compared to Lewitt in a gallery bio?
- Robert Huffmann (guest) 6-15-2006 8:06 am

Those pieces Alex did that are like, four pixels changing, would also be good. Ah, I need to look up the specifics.
- tom moody 6-15-2006 8:08 am

Do you see Nintendo clouds as an exercise in permutation?

I saw the bar code pieces--they looked nice, but so many artists have done bar codes I'd stay away from them myself.
- tom moody 6-15-2006 8:13 am

^By that I mean would Blake fall into the hacker aesthetic?

Paul- I dig the RSG/PIXEL piece, but I can't make heads or tails of the other work you sited. Without being seriously program-savvy, how is a gallery goer to understand such work? What should or can be taken from it? Am I looking at some bastardized version of **aack* Concrete poetry?

Tom-Thanks for the background on the GCC compiler.

I am starting to think that everything I learned regarding theory, criticism, and history won't even scrap the tip of this iceberg.
- Robert Huffmann (guest) 6-15-2006 8:17 am

Have you seen this stuff yet - dvblogh4ck.blogspot.com/?
- Robert Huffmann (guest) 6-15-2006 8:28 am

Yes, jimpunk is great. I can't find any pics of that Galloway piece I was thinking of.
- tom moody 6-15-2006 8:36 am

Those two Galloway pieces Paul posted aren't meant for a gallery, so no point in worrying about them. Simon did do a gallery version of Every Icon, as I recall.
- tom moody 6-15-2006 8:45 am

I don't know that much about Alex's stuff there, except that it is definitely an example of very minimal code art. I'm not sure if it's successful or not, or how it would be displayed or interpreted. What it is, is a one line Perl script using randomization (so it's minimal and generative) and there are several more:

This stuff makes me think there probably should be more artistic exploration of automata theory, although again, few would understand it. But heck, isn't that just the reality of a lot of art stuff?
( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automata_theory )

oh yeah, also Peter Luining!!

Black is a 7am3r n00b, this is real deal:
- paul (guest) 6-15-2006 8:50 am

"every icon"....good stuff.. here is a pic of it

check out this show's images:
We put www.theyrule.com in the show on a laptop.
"every icon' was placed next to a sweet Howard Finnster.
Buzz Spector did a project using google, printing out the results onto printer paper; some of his searches he did on two days, noting the different number of hits as the web changed.

- clayton (guest) 6-15-2006 8:54 am

Well even so, I took it that they are meant to be artworks. Can they not be exhibited in a gallery, even on a laptop or something? But my question really is how can the first piece be comprehended by the layman?
- Robert Huffmann (guest) 6-15-2006 8:54 am

does the layman need to 'get it' on a level of comprehension?
- clayton (guest) 6-15-2006 8:57 am

OK Paul. Good point, that is the sad fact of most art stuff. I just get frustrated when I can't define something.

Clayton that show looks sweet!
- Robert Huffmann (guest) 6-15-2006 9:06 am

The pixel one is probably just as hard to explain to a layman actually (did you look at the source?) Obviously they'd require some explanation, but the museum plaque probably wouldn't have to be any bigger than the plaque for, say, a Carl Andre. :o)
- paul (guest) 6-15-2006 9:07 am

We should do a conference call, or a conference. Too much reading and typing. See ya'll tomorrow.
- paul (guest) 6-15-2006 9:08 am

I usually don't look at the source Paul. I'm a painter, I tend to only focus on the surface. For instance, I was reminded of your TV piece that blends the colors on the wall when I looked at Galloways RSG/PIXEL, simply focusing on the visual phenomena and shuffling it into an historical context. I think I do that reflexively.

Andre's practice is well established. Do museums still need plaques for guys like that? When I'm asking questions regarding how these things function, how to explain them, I'm searching for the similarities in the process that might allow us to classify and define them. Maybe the layman doesn't need to comprehend them, but I would like to. Peace in the middle east. I like that conference idea. Till then...(-.-)zzzzzzz
- Robert Huffmann (guest) 6-15-2006 9:28 am

Tom, I felt your CRT's and DVD players had content. It took a minute to figure out what was wrong, but you just don't see home made gif's on T.V. When I see a CRT I still think "T.V." - when I see a flat panel, I think monitor, be it video, computer or tv as its input. It made your show interestingly disquieting.

In a sense, the DVD froze the gif's in time. I liked the presentation of Michael's work but the fact that they were playing off of computers made me wish that some of the content was being dynamically created and not just loops. But I can understand his decision, it is "computer art" so why not have it play off of a computer? It keeps the work from being "just a video", and is way easier for a collector to get her/his head around.

When I saw your show I felt that the projection was in conversation with the Ecstasy show, (even though I'm pretty sure you didn't see it, it was up in LA).

I felt your piece was a deliberately low tech attempt at sensory overload. The big problem with Ecstasy was the fact that every piece was expensive, and expensive looking. What I enjoyed about both yours and Michael's show was the humor, something that's in short supply in a lot of digital media.

It's a great interview.
- joester 6-26-2006 8:39 pm

I have closed this comment thread--take that, spam motherfuckers. If anyone has any follow-up to this please email me and we'll start a new topic.
- tom moody 2-22-2007 11:35 pm